"Heaven Tonight... in Aurora IL" - Dec 1998 (A.M.CT Review)
1. Getting There
It was a last minute decision to fly in to Aurora, for the last of the album shows. Two weeks before, it seemed impossible, flights were expensive, and I'd had to replace my car. But a week before the first show, I found a flight deal with Air France knocking $80 off flights, plus I kindly had an offer of a bed in both Naperville and later in Madison. I managed to book vacation time at short notice too, got my air tickets with one day to spare, and on Tues 8 Dec, I set out in the rain at 5am, on my tortuous journey, via bus, train and plane to the suburbs of Chicago. I had a 4.5 hour layover at Paris Airport, during which time I listened to the Heaven Tonight Metro show and TF2 Accoustic show. Nothing like getting into the right mood ! Trick reference #1, the plane we parked next to on arrival at O'Hare was a Dutch KLM 747, registration PH-BUN..... weird, saw that one in Amsterdam in March 97 too, at the start of a trip when I saw CT in Las Vegas.
Arrived in Naperville around 8pm, and soon tracked down Wild Cheri Brian and Geek, and Brian proceeded to turn me green with jealousy by starting to show me items of his awesome CT collection. He also has amazing items from other bands such as Kiss too, and an enormous collection of CDs. Considering I spent the night on a waterbed in the same room as an iguana, I slept surprisingly well !
2. Cheap Trick - 9 Dec 98
After taking Brian and Cheri's yorkie, Oliver, to chase the ducks down by the Riverside, I spent some time at Wild Cheri Records. Definitely worth a visit if you are ANYWHERE near Illinois ! Buy it or order it from Brian. Really. Got a lift with Brians Dad to The Roxie. I was late, it was probably 3.30 ! But guess what ? I was first there. Got to speak to the owner, Jimmy, who was most impressed that I'd come all the way from England. He was terrific throughout to me, and I personally had no problems with the venue in any way. I wish him and the venue every success in the future. Amongst early arrivees were a non-NGer, Ray from Rockford, also Dayna E, bearing gifts of koala's from her recent trip Down Under, Mike, Jeff, Laurie and Heather. Also got to chat with John Candas, and discovered Anthrax would NOT be opening one night. We managed to get our 3 day passes early, and some of us proceeded to go wait at a door at the back of the building, at the parking lot. It was darned cold (brrrr), and the Budweiser lorry parked there for the entire 3 days only served to mock us. As time went on, others arrived, until 7am, when we were let in 15 mins earlier than single ticket holders. That allowed us all to secure prime spots, though to be truthful, there was really little need to line up.
The venue used to be a car dealership, converted into a nightclub, bar and concert venue. The three night run by Trick was their special opening attraction.
Night #1 was opened by the Wizenheimers from Madison WI, who I quite liked. I've seen a lot of worse openers for CT this year for sure. However, the sound seemed muddy, as it did for CT later. By this time, the NG contingent had grown, with Rusty and Connie having arrived, Rusty resplendent in black and white checkerboard, totally ! Others included Brian, Geek Craig S and Kurt. The place seemed only about half full though, perhaps 600 people.
The stage set up was standard, with Chairy and Tweetie Pie, though Rick had a wooden snowman behind him too. Cheap Trick took the stage at 9.20, to open up the CT77 show. Rick wore his black suit and black "Mysterious Rick" t-shirt, Robin wore the purple suit and bottle green shirt and was unshaven, Bun wore patterned blue shirt and black pants, and Tom wore a black rollneck shirt, black pants, and a pale green, heavy ribbed jacket. As always, a great show, and the band seemed determined to end the album show run on a high. After "TV Violence", Connie held up a sign saying "Happy Birthday Rusty", which both Robin and Tom looked at, before Rick wandered over to investigate. After establishing that Rusty WASN'T Connie, Rick said "Come onstage". Rusty seemed strangely slow (he must have been mildly sober), so Rick invited him up again. Rusty managed only to get to the front of the crowd and proceeded to wave to everyone from there. Hmmm. He really missed his chance of being ON stage with the band. But then again, I worried if he'd make it over the 4 ft gap between the barrier and stage. Anyway, Rick wished him a happy birthday which was cool. Before a storming "Stop this Game", Rick showed the audience in front of him his new signature guitar, which looked rather nice. During Surrender, Rusty waved his Kiss Visa card, which somehow got to Rick, and he actually played the 5 neck with it for about 30 seconds before flicking it back into the well (for Rusty to get back later). Early in the show, Rick flicked a pick at the lady next to me, Rhonda, which apperared to go down her low cut top. I took a look, sort of, looked back at Rick, who gestured that I should do the "gentlemanly" thing and help search for it ! Sadly I didn't do so, mainly because I didn't want to face a Federal charge of molestation. But tempting ....oh my, yes ! <LOL>
After the show was over, I got given a signed t-shirt from the NGers there. That was a great surprise (though I'd signed Rusty's earlier, so had an inkling). That was so cool, as Connie and Laurie, with the help of Carla, got it signed by the band too. Definitely the joint most special thing of the trip, and one of my most prized CT possessions, thanks guys <sniff>. I'll look to see if I can get it framed, with glass both sides... It was TOO GOOD to wear...
After picking up the very cool Aurora shows poster, we headed back to the party at the Comfort Inn. I travelled back with Rusty and Craig S10, en route we listened to Rusty's tape of "Reach Out" with him on backing vocals. Sounded cool, as we also had the real thing singing in the back of the car too !! He made us stay in the car, in the freezing hotel parking lot to listen to his next epic, "Garbage Dump". I can honestly say, I've never heard anything like it, yet it had a very cool quality all of its own ! Craig and I were ... um... entranced ! On getting to his room, it seemed like the hotel had finally been contacted by the GA State Police, as Rustys keycard for his room wouldn't work ! But finally it did, and for maybe the next 25 minutes, the party was me, Rusty and Craig. Even then, I think Reception phoned to tell Rusty to keep the noise down ! But soon enough we were joined by Brian, Connie, Andy, Kurt, Doug .. and others, and most importantly, beer. Connie managed to spill beer over herself, but chose to dry herself inside the bedcovers. She then proceeded to try to spill beer on me. Now Connie, if you were trying to engineer a situation, you could have just asked !! <LOL>. I got pictured with a beer, though I think the picture was a set up job. Rusty was getting somewhat out of hand, threatening to throw the TV, then himself out of the window. By this time it was about 1 am, and his next door neighbours were either having a GREAT time, or were banging on the walls trying to get Rusty to shut up ! On realising Jeff T wasn't around, Rusty tried to call him. No reply. So after managing to establish Connie's room number (somewhat against her better judgement), Rusty then proceeded to call the front Desk, and put on his best "Southern Belle" voice. "Ah'm trah'in to get hold o' mah good friend Mistah Talleh" he simpered, sounding even more like a sulty Connie than even SHE can manage. "We last saw each othah 10 yeahs ago, and ah so miss him. Ah just want to get in touch so we can get tugethah and talk about tha old tahmes".... well the dialog was pretty close to that. Unfortunately even the Front Desk couldn't raise Talley-san, though its not known if they believed a word of that romantic tale from the Deep South, but at least we got to hear a more feminine and sensitive side of out much loved friend from Atlanta. Definitely never a dull moment with him around. I got a lift back to Naperville with Craig around 2am, though you generally get places quicker in America by driving down the right, rather than the left hand lane Craig. Twice. Luckily the cop that pulled out of the gas station missed both occurances. As did the oncoming traffic. I want to ride with Laurie next time......
3. In Color - 10 Dec 98
I got up fairly early, tried to shake off the wicked hangover from my one beer the night before, and went in search of breakfast. Naperville was lovely, clean, and so typically middle America. Well, in my opinion anyway. I loved it. Like the rest of the trip, it was a beautiful bright sunny day, though cold. When he awoke, Brian warned me that Rusty might have spent the night in the local Police cells, he'd tried to trash his room after we'd left. See what happens when you lose the sober influence of Craig S10 ? Well, Jeff, Laurie and a very quiet Rusty turned up just as Brian was opening up the shop. We hung loose for a while, before heading back to the hotel (where, by some miracle, Rusty had neither lost his room, nor been warned by the Police, but HAD been rumoured to have been offered a part on the movie sequel to "Gone with the Wind". After picking up Connie (who didn't smell of spilled beer at all), we had a late lunch at the local Mall. They dropped me off at the Roxie at 4.45 pm, where, shock !! horror!!, I wasn't first in line. Beaten by Rockford Ray. Good to meet up again with Rhonda, Ray , Lorena from a local Aurora paper, and a few others, though very concerned that Dayna had a really bad migraine soon after arriving. She did perk up a little soon before we went in, partly thanks to phoning Maureen in sunny Oz. Great to speak to ya Maur ! God, it must have been warmer that end of the phone line, we felt every damn minute of the 5 minutes late that they let us in (not to mention the previous 2 hrs or more). Still, prime spots for all, as it was a little busier tonight. Shortly before the support band "The Hush Drops" came on, Carla came and got me to go interview Rick. On the way she said "Hey, its your birthday today...", "No, sorry, they got it wrong, its tomorrow". On entering the backstage reception room (the one with the window), Tom was there and said "Kim !! I hear its your birthday today...", "No, sorry, it's actually tomorrow...". Then Rick strolled out, and said "Hey Kim ! I hear it's your birthday today ...", "No, its actually tomorrow...". To which he replied to Carla " Tomorrows Heaven Tonight. He could do the DJ part in On the Radio ?", to which Carla looked at me and said "Are you up for it ?". Well, does the Pope s**t in the woods ? Of course I'll do it, what a birthday present! I then sat and started interviewing Rick, using the new recorder I bought in New York. Well, as he always has been to me, Rick was very open, serious and informative. After 25 mins, I needed to turn the tape over, at which point I discovered that it hadn't been recording D'OH !! I immediately said to Rick "I feel such a DICK". He, Carla and Tom all seemed to find it amusing. Sadly I don't have the photographic memory that Tom said I'd have to employ. We finished the last 5 mins ON TAPE, but I felt both gutted AND embarassed. I did hope Rick wouldn't feel it a waste of his time. I left for the public area, clutching my DJ script for the following night.
Cheap Trick came on again at 9.20, to perform the In Color album. Rick wore black t-shirt and grey striped suit, Bun wore blue patterned shirt and black pants, Robin wore purple velvet suit with 3/4 length jacket and a mauve shirt (though Connie thought Robin wore blue ?? - photographic evidence anyone ??) , and Tom wore a beige suit and dark brown suit. They seemed very relaxed as they launched into Hello There. Great set, the band were really playing well, despite the so-so turnout. The sound was better too this night.
Instead of partying back at Brians (best not risk holding the party in Rustys room in the Comfort Inn again !!), I hooked up with Jeff and Laurie, as I'd arranged to meet up with Samantha/Rhiazann who was travelling down that evening from Madison. Couldn't find her either outside the Roxie or at the hotel, so we headed out to eatt. Jeff was driving Laurie's van, and totally managed to miss the "On the Border" he was looking for. On swinging back round to it, we finally found it closed, and Jeff then had fun trying to find his way out of the parking lot. Too funny to see Smakutus almost losing his cool.... but only almost ! We ended up eating at that fine gourmet experience called "Steak'n'Shake". Actually the fries WERE good, even at 12.30 am. But don't ask Laurie about the $100 bill debacle, whilst we waited 10 minutes for change. On finally getting back to the Comfort Inn, we found Rhiazann slumped in a chair at reception. We chatted some, and I accepted the offer of sleeping in the spare bed in her room, as I was pretty bushed, as was she after a long work day and 3 hr drive.
4. Heaven Tonight - 11 Dec 98 (Its my birthday !)
Checked out Naperville in the morning, swinging by Wild Cheri, and also picking up my stuff from Brian's. Finally had some Chicago pizza for lunch, and took some back for Brian. We told him it was pepperoni, mushroom and onion, but it was actually sausage, which he warned us they used rats tails in ! Sorry Brian, my mistake <LOL>. I got to buy the ONXRT CD with the Metro version of On the Radio on it. Sam and I headed down the riverside at Naperville mid afternoon, where I managed to scare the ducks and passing old ladies with my efforts to do the DJ "motormouth". Aaarrrggghhh, tonight was going to be AWFUL ! But working in radio and media, Rhiazann coached me a while, before we headed off to the Roxie. I just hoped it would be enough. The usual suspects were in line early again after us, Ray, Lorena, Rhonda etc. You were all great... mad and cold... but great !! <LOL>
Two support acts tonight. First up were a 3 piece girl band called Joygirl, who were pretty good. Jeff was not the only one who'd like to talk technique with the bass player. Next up were the Wizenheimers again, maybe this was the night Anthrax pulled out of ? Well, I liked them again, they were fun. Next time I'm in Madison ... After their set I got pulled from the front by Carla (not physically you understand), to go view the show from side stage, and to do my walk on part. My friends, new and old, all thought it was a birthday treat from the band to let me see the show from side stage..... little did they know. Sadly Dayna didn't make it this night though, due to another migraine :-(((
Got teased by Trick crew members like Joe and Trace, as well as Carla. I did get warned to not let Rick put me off whilst I was doing the DJ piece. "He'll come right up to your shoulder and give you THAT look over his shades" they warned. Alrighty, thanks for the warning. The band came down to go on stage, Rick asked me "Are you nervous" to which I replied "F**king nervous" which raised a smile. Its all a bit of a blur, but either Robin or Tom teased that I'd better be good ... Thanks for not putting on the pressure guys ! And then the show started, as Bun E launched into the drum opening to Eau Claire. During Surrender Rick came over to my side of the stage (Toms side) and shouted "Are you STILL nervous ??" with a wicked grin on his face ! During California Man, Tom walked down sidestage and gave me a pick, how kind. "Go to Hell" it read, gee thanks Tom <LOL>. And then Takin' Me Back finished, and Rick (I think) said they'd flown a DJ all the way from England, from Liverpool and more lately London... Mr John Peel ! (a famous British rock DJ). He then corrected himself to say that it was Kim Gisborne, who'd come in from England especially for the shows, and who ran the Cheap Trick Fan Club in England. And the song started, and I recall thinking "Oh well, it'll be over in 4 minutes". The bridge approached, I walked up the stage steps, and got a push from Carla I think. Over to Robin's mic,and this was it. Clutching my amended script, I launched into it... "One minute the wrong side of midnight its me, Kim Gisborne from Cheap Trick Radio, Ready to roll, hot wax, anything you wanna hear, its a chilly 30 degrees in Aurora Illinois..." etc etc. I sensed Rick on my shoulder, so said something like "Hi Rick" without taking my eyes off the paper. Same with Tom. And then it came to the climax. Funny how it sounds AWFUL when you do it in an empty room, or in a park or wherever. But in that room, in front of 1,000 people, it felt just GREAT to shout "... In the meantime.... Go with it, go for it, go nuts.... GO COMPLETELY WILD !!!!". and then I walked off. To be honest, I didn't take in too much of the crowd, though I did see faces like Mary Gear, Sam, Rhonda, Lorena, Connie, Jeff and Laurie all smiling at me. I was glad to get through it without freezing or screwing it up. At the end of the song, Rick made me come back on stage, and said it was my birthday. He ushered me to the mic, I looked at him, and he said something like "go on, SAY something". So I think I said something lame, yet truly heartfelt like "Its an absolute honour to be on stage with the finest band in the world"... And it was. Unbelievable. I walked off stage, with a weight off my shoulders, having achieved an incredible, and seemingly impossible ambition.
The rest of the show flew by. It was cool, yet weird to watch and hear from sidestage, the sound was different, and I was much more aware of the crowd too, the cheers, the roar, the reactions, the smiling faces. Truly unforgettable. Terrific to get a Thanks during Fan Club too. After show, I went upstairs for a while, though came back down into the hall with a poster Carla asked me to give to somebody. The reaction from NG friends was wonderful, glad to have given most of you a big surprise. And it was cool to get congratulated by many strangers too.
On returning upstairs, got to speak briefly with the band, who were all terrific. Bun said he hadn't heard me, but said they'd had to play THREE verses as I spoke for so long !! Sorry Bun.
The evening drew to a close, by saying goodbye to most of the NGers and other friends. Sam and I headed back to Naperville for an hour and joined the party with Connie, Brian, Geek, Rusty etc. But we needed to head off on the 3 hr run up to cheese country, Madison.
5. The Rest
Had a great weekend up in Madison with Samantha, vegging out the following day after such a tiring Friday. We were more active on the Sunday, venturing into downtown Madison, visiting the State Capitol Building, as well as shopping and lunching down on State Street. I almost bought a foam "cheesehead" to bring home.... but only almost. I DID buy the Wizenheimers latest CD, Holsteins Nightmare, its good ! But couldn't find the new Sony CT compilation "Don't Be Cruel".. well, you know what us collectors are like, have to buy it, even if it WAS unauthorised by the band. Oh well, next trip. Went to Sams "office" Xmas party on Sunday evening, and like in Naperville, saw some of the incredible Christmas light decorations on/outside people's houses. Amazing. You people have just too much power ! Trick reference #2 - whilst driving around, drove across South Whitney Way, until recently the home of Trickstuff. All too soon the weekend was over, and come Monday lunchtime, I found myself on a coach down to O'Hare from Madison.
Trick reference #3. Just outside Madison, passed a sign for Cottage Grove - Bun wears a Cottage Grove Police Dept cap.
Trick reference #4 - Just through the Hampshire-Marengo toll soouth of Rockford, passed over Harmony Riley Road. Daxx and Miles' band, whose name I guess is taken from the nearby settlements of Harmony and Riley. Trick reference #5 - passed the Rosemont Horizon Theatre, near O'Hare, where Trick have played, most recently with Motley Crue I think. And finally, Trick reference #6 - At O'Hare, passed by the Ramada O'Hare Airport, venue of Trickfest 1.
So that was that. Faced a long journey home to near Leeds, England, via Paris. During my wait at O'Hare, had a Pizzeria Uno pizza - great pizza, bad service.
6. The THANKS
An unbelievable trip, for many reasons. Wonderful to run into old friends, Heather, Rusty, Connie, Jeff-san (Konnichi-wa), Laurie, Samantha, Geek, Mike, Dayna, Craig S10, Kurt, Mary and others. New friends like Rhonda (Mandocello), the Tall Guy (he was in NY too !), Ray from Rockford (is your e-mail address correct buddy ??), Andy, Doug, Lorena and the lady from San Diego.
Many thanks to Brian and Cheri for their hospitality in Naperville, and Sam for her hospitality in Madison. I couldn't have afforded to do it without you guys !
A big hug and kiss to Laurie and Connie for sorting out the signed t-shirt. Truly, one of my most treasured CT souvenirs...I'll be sure to spill beer on you next time !
HUGE thanks to Carla and Cheap Trick. It was fantastic to get the interview with Rick (then go screw it up - Cheryl, Mellster, does that make me a proper journo like you now ?? <LOL>). And bigger thanks for letting me go on stage with you, on my birthday. Awesome, and unlike Mr Nielsen, words fail me.
What an end to an unforgettable year, with so many CT highs (5 trips over), and many personal lows. Lets do it all over again in '99. I hope TF3 will happen in May, perhaps in Merrilville or Rockford(?). It will be great to see you all again, we need to party like its nineteen ninety nine! And I hope we can ALL make it, including great friends like Lynn/Sweethp who couldn't get to TF2. All of you, your attendance is compulsory !
7. Set Lists
Cheap Trick - 9 Dec 98
ELO, Daddy, Taxman, Cry Cry, Candy, Hot Love, Speak Now, Whore, Mandocello Speck (TV Viloence), Shelter, Can't Hold On, Stop this Game, Surrender, Voices, Dream, Goodnight.
(Additional note: RZ had lyrics for Mandocello and Daddy.)
In Color - 10 Dec 98
Hello, Eyes, Downed, IWYTWM, Talk, Caroline, Clock, Souther, C'mon, So Good, Ghost Berg, 8 Miles, Need Your Love, Goodnight, Can't Take It, Aufie
(Additional note: RZ had lyrics for So Good...)
Heaven Tonight - 11 Dec 98
Claire, Surrender, Top, Calman, Roller, Aufie, Takin' me Back, Radio, Heaven Tonight, Stiff, How Are You, Voices, Fan Club, I Know What I Want, Just Got Back, IYWML, Gonna Raise Hell.
(Additional note: I have NO IDEA what lyrics Robin had posted on stage, even though I probably stood on them !)
8. The End
Thank you Alt.Music.Cheap-Trick !! Kim Gisborne ... sez .... Good-night !!
(They persecute me right here in Leeds, England) 18/12/98
This Site and all material held within it are Copyright by Kim Gisborne