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Music-Theater-Dance

PEACH WEEKENDER | COVER STORY

Cheap Trick, Warrant head retro rock concert at Savage Arena

Rock The Arena II starts at 11 a.m. Saturday

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    Peach Weekender March 23, 2017 edition cover.

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    Warrant is part of the lineup for Rock the Arena II at UT.

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    Rick Nielsen, from left, Robin Zander and Tom Petersson of the band Cheap Trick perform at Live Nation's National Concert Day at the Irving Plaza.

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It’s time to dust off those old bottles of hair spray and stock up on eyeliner because the ’70s and ’80s are coming back to Toledo — at least for one day this weekend.

Seminal rockers Cheap Trick will headline the 10-act roster, which includes original Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm, Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, Quiet Riot, and Warrant as part of Savage Live Concert Series’ Rock the Arena II on Saturday on the campus of the University of Toledo.

“I’m a desert rat now,” jokes Warrant bassist Jerry Dixon during a recent phone call with The Blade from his home in Las Vegas. He’s referring to living in Nevada after moving out of California several years ago, the home state of his band known for its smash hits such as “Cherry Pie,” “Heaven,” and “Sometimes She Cries” during the late ’80s and early ’90s.

In the band’s career, Warrant has seen its fair share of ups and downs, from selling millions of albums and becoming famous to filing bankruptcy, which Dixon refers to as the “dark years.”

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Dixon referred to the early to mid-’90s grunge movement as another factor leading to a shift in “hair band” appeal.

“I loved grunge, I loved Nirvana, I loved all those bands,” the bassist said. “I think the ’80s music was oversaturated, and it was time for change.”

Thirty years later, Warrant keeps its music alive on the road and in the studio, as the act prepares to release its ninth full-length album, Louder Harder Faster, in May.

Dixon referred to music as something that “chose me” and “if it picks you, it owns you.”

“I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been all fun,” Dixon said. “There’s been a lot of destruction and death, loss of money and headaches and pain. At the end of the day, you have to remove yourself for a minute and say, ‘This is not a big deal. There’s bigger problems in the world.’ This is what I love to do, and just take the good and the bad as it comes.

“You have to be careful to not get too involved in the being famous part because that can come and go,” he continued. “Just realizing at certain points it’s going to suck, and you’re not going to make any money, and you’re going to eat macaroni and cheese. Every once in a while, you might get a break and sell some records. You have to keep an open mind to it and be willing to have an unstable life.”

Melissa Somers, president of Cleveland-based independent promotion company Rise Above Media Solutions, said UT hired her company as a middle agent and event coordinator for the Savage Live Concert Series in 2015. Former member of Poison Bret Michaels headlined the series’ first event last year.

“I just believe [in] that era and generation; there’s some great music that came out of that, and when they’re gone they’re gone,” Somers said, adding last year’s event sold out the 5,000-seat arena. “I don’t see the stars of today having the long-lasting career that these guys do.”

While 2016’s Rock the Arena event featured eight bands, this year’s show welcomes 10 acts sharing one stage.

Somers said although the event is at a university, Rock the Arena II is meant to attract the general public and not specifically college students. She said fans as far as California and New York have bought tickets.

“It’s always been community driven,” Somers said. “To bring something of this magnitude to Toledo is a big deal. The talent that is going to be on the stage is pretty incredible.”

Rock The Arena II starts at 11 a.m. Saturday at UT’s Savage Arena. Tickets are $39 to $125 and can be purchased at utsavagelive.com. Also included in the lineup are Stephen Pearcy, Jack Russell’s Great White, Vixen, Autograph, and Trixter.

“The last four years rock ‘n’ roll has been getting bigger and bigger,” Dixon said. “We’re playing bigger venues and selling more records, and it’s come all the way back around. I’m so glad we hung in there.”

Contact Geoff Burns at: gburns@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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