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Nick Perri and the Underground Thieves Are Ready for Rock’s Return

By Guy D’Astolfo
WARREN, Ohio – The “back to normal” concert era will begin June 18 in the Mahoning Valley when The Nielsen Trust comes to the Warren Community Amphitheatre.

It will mark the first visit by a national act since the lifting of statewide pandemic regulations that reduced capacity at venues.

The Nielsen Trust is a side project of Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. Nielsen is joined by his sons Daxx, who is also the drummer for Cheap Trick; and Miles, who leads his own band, the Rusted Hearts. Miles handles vocals for the Nielsen Trust. His wife, Kelly Steward, is also in the band.

Rick Nielsen, of course, is the ballcap-wearing guitarist and songwriter for Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick. He penned just about all of the act’s many hits, including “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me,” and those who attend the Warren Amp concert will hear those and more in some form or other.

Taking the stage first that night will be Nick Perri and the Underground Thieves, a rising Philadelphia band with LA style and some classic rock swagger.

In a recent phone interview, Perri said he’s raring to get back in front of full-sized audiences and is especially pleased to be among the vanguard of touring shows.

Perri returned to his hometown a few years ago after living and performing in Los Angeles for years. While live shows were out of the question for the past 15 months, he didn’t spend his downtime eating cheese steaks.

“We kept our chops up,” Perri said, by playing a series of socially distanced shows at drive-ins and other venues, as well as at least one virtual concert.

Most importantly, the band recorded its debut album, “Sun Via,” which was released in August. Now, it finally gets the chance to play the new songs for live audiences.

“The debut [record] was a big deal,” Perri said, explaining it was two and a half years in the making. “I took all the time I needed to make it the best I could.”

While Perri has also been writing new music in recent months, he said “I’m not ready to think about album two yet.”

Some of those new songs will make the set list at the Warren show. Perri wants to see how they land with both the audience and himself. “I’m going to test a couple of them,” Perri said. “I respect the voices around me but I have to respect the song in my gut to be true to myself. It’s nice to test a song, though, not so much for the fan reaction, but for how we feel about it and to see how we might change it.”

While Philadelphia has an indie and punk rock scene that is almost Brooklyn-esque, Perri & Co. are cut from a different cloth.

“I’m in it, but I’m out of it,” he said, referring to the prevailing Philly scene. “I married a girl from California and just moved back from there. I’m getting back into the Philly scene. But the Southern California desert vibe creeps into our music.”

The frontman’s musical roots also account for his flashier, more visual, direction.

“I grew up on old records,” he said. “I was a teen in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Grunge was happening, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana, but I gravitated toward old records, bluesy rock, The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Johnny Winter, the three king [of blues guitar, Albert, Freddie and B.B. King], and then Clapton and Hendrix and The Doors. I was getting turned on to that at the right age. It spoke to my soul. I was the outcast in school. Everyone else was listening to Limp Bizkit and Britney Spears.”

Perri, who bears a resemblance to the late Jim Morrison, isn’t stuck in the past; he counts acts such as The War on Drugs and Radiohead among his influences. It’s really the songwriting and artistry of a song – aspects that were once more prevalent, he says – that intrigue him.

“We have replaced true artistry with some sort of weird commercialism,” he said.

Perri formed The Underground Thieves in 2018, and altered the name the following year. “I put my name on it and took ownership and went with it,” he said.

The guitarist-singer has been performing since he was young. In fact, his tour with The Nielsen Trust has a precedent.

“I opened for Cheap Trick as a teen with my band Silvertide,” he said.

Live theater was another pursuit of Perris’ as he was growing up and he puts that experience to work during concerts.

“I’m interested in putting on a show, a big production,” he said. “People can just stay home and listen to the music, so I don’t want to just play. I want to give them something that is visual and exciting. It’s my job to put on a show.”

Tickets to The Nielsen Trust-Nick Perri and the Underground Thieves concert are $25 (general admission) and available at RiverRockAtTheAmp.com. The all-ages concert will start at 8 p.m.

Pictured: Nick Perri and The Underground Thieves. Perri is fourth from right.

Copyright 2021, AfterHoursYoungstown.com, Youngstown, Ohio.

Posted June 10, 2021.

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