in a land "Down Under" - Australia, Nov 2008
Australia has long been one of those places I’ve wanted to visit, but never really got close to going to. For one thing, Cheap Trick hadn’t been there since 1996, and it looked as if they’d never return. Plus, it’s halfway around the world, and everyone told me that to do the place any kind of justice you needed to go for at least a month, minimum. So for many years Australia was on the very back burner (along with a few other places), that maybe one day I’d get to visit. Perhaps…
Well, back in the summer that one day came along. Cheap Trick was announced as touring Australia in November, supporting Def Leppard at a number of shows there. Well, my employment situation has been patchy since my redundancy, but this was an opportunity too good to miss. So I started looking into possibilities, girlfriend Patricia could join me from Chicago, and I’d be able to tag on a sort-of family related visit too to “nearby” New Zealand. More on that later.
So, things got booked, my travel folder gradually filled up with paper copies of air tickets, hotel reservations, rental car bookings, maps to get to hotels, venues and places of interest… and it was just a case of waiting for October 31 to roll around. Along with all the travel planning, I was still applying for jobs and getting the odd interview. In fact, one job would announce the successful applicant whilst I was away, whilst another possible temp job at my old office might arise during that time. I made arrangements with both, and hoped to have a job to start soon after returning home.
Anyway, to set the scene… it’s the end of October. The travel folder is bulging,
it’s chilly and wet in England, there’s a small election about to be held in the
USA… and I’m about to head off for the trip of a lifetime to Australia for 5 CT
shows, plus short visits to New Zealand and South Korea added on. Grab a drink,
get comfortable (it’s a long ride ahead, much like the flight down under), and
let’s get going… <cue some Men at Work…>!
Fri 31 Oct – Sun 2 Nov – Travelling to Sydney
It’s a long way to Australia. A very long way indeed. I’m used to 10-11 hour flights from Europe to the West Coast or Japan, but this was going to break my record by some margin. Two flights of that duration, with just a short break in between. As regular readers will know, I normally fly KLM, Air France or Northwest, because I have my frequent flyer status with them. However, they don’t fly to Australia, so I had to consider other airlines. With about 24,000 miles there and back, I definitely wanted to be earning points. Whilst KLM/Air France codeshared with Qantas and Malaysian Airlines, I eventually chose Korean Air via Seoul. Their fares were reasonable, they are a member of the Skyteam alliance with AF/KL etc so I’d earn points, I’d be able to upgrade into Business Class to make the distance easier to bear, and I’d be able to stopover on my way in Korea. I’d been to Seoul for a long weekend in early April this year, and liked it so much that I wanted to return.
When I fly to the States I’m usually up at 3am for a 6am flight to Amsterdam and so my travel day starts very early. Today was very different as my flight from London Heathrow wasn’t due to take off until 8 o’clock in the evening. So oddly, I had enough time in the morning to check my luggage, re-pack, re-check… you get the picture. It’s a 200 mile drive from Leeds to Heathrow so I left home at noon in order to give myself plenty of time for travel delays. The M1 motorway down to London and the M25 London Orbital motorway are both notorious for clogging up, particularly the latter on Friday afternoons. Anyway, I had a relatively smooth drive down to the off-airport parking place I was using, and I was checked-in at Heathrow with 3 hours to spare.
My Korean Air flight took off 30 minutes late, but that was no biggie for the 10 hr flight, plus I’d have a 3+ hour layover at Seoul. What can I say, it was a long flight. It was nice to be in the smaller cabin in the “lump” of the 747, and have a more comfortable seat. The in-flight entertainment system wasn’t great, even in Business, but I guess you get what you pay for. As usual I couldn’t sleep during the flight, so I whiled away the overnight hours listening to MP3’s of Special One, CT97, At Budokan….
The plane landed at Seoul at 6.20am UK time, though it was mid-afternoon Saturday in Seoul. I like Incheon Airport, its modern, clean and spacious. More importantly, it has showers in the Korean Air lounge, so it was nice to freshen up during my layover.
My onward flight to Sydney left Seoul at 8pm local time. By now my body was starting to protest from lack of sleep, too much food, and general confusion about being on another big metal tube so quickly! The Business Class service to Sydney was poor, there wasn’t much extra legroom when the seat in front was fully reclined, and there wasn’t even personal video or shared screen entertainment. If you wanted to watch a movie, they brought you an old personal DVD player, and the choice was of only 7-8 movies (mainly Korean). I know in economy on the likes of Singapore Airlines you get video on demand and tens of movies to choose from. You get what you pay for I guess. Anyway, can’t complain about the food or wine, and this time I got maybe 2 hrs dozing in during the 10 hour flight.
The plane landed in Sydney at 7.30am local time on Sunday morning. I left England on Friday, so somewhere I lost a couple of days! It was mild but overcast, and Australia was just coming into its summer. It didn’t take too long to get through immigration, customs and quarantine, and so I was out in the Australian air by 8.15am. Patricia emerged about an hour later, having flown in from Chicago via Los Angeles. She’d had a long journey too, I think the LAX-SYD flight was about 16 hours non-stop.
Cheap Trick was actually playing the second show of the tour
tonight, in Adelaide, South Australia. But we hadn’t planned on making it there,
nor had we chosen to travel for the opening show in Perth, Western Australia on
Fri 31st Oct. All we wanted to do was get to our hotel and crash for
awhile. The train doesn’t take long to get into the city from the airport, and
so we were at our hotel soon after 10am. Unfortunately we couldn’t check in
until 2pm :-( However, we could store our luggage, so we did that and went
out walking, naturally drawn towards the harbour. In the Royal Botanic Gardens
were saw a white cockatoo flying in loops and screeching. He eventually
settled on a tree near the water, where there were loads more just like him! We
finally saw the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, both major icons of Sydney and
Australia of course. We got back to the hotel at nearly 3pm, had a disagreement
with the clerk over storing our luggage tomorrow night (which I’d confirmed by
phone weeks ago), and when we got into our room we found we had two single beds,
not the double I’d booked and paid for 3 months ago. They couldn’t give us a
room with a double bed, despite the booking and our being amongst the first to
check-in today. That didn’t give me a good feeling about our second stay – we’d
be off to Melbourne for one night tomorrow and then back at this hotel for 6
nights (hence the prior agreement to store our suitcases whilst away the one
night). Anyway, we kept ourselves awake by watching TV until 7.30pm when sleep
was both inevitable and necessary. Hopefully we’d avoid jetlag, the last thing
we’d want to do was fall asleep during CT early tomorrow evening!
Mon 3 Nov – Cheap Trick in Melbourne
A new day, another flight and another city, but it was made easier with 10 hours of sleep. We stored our suitcases and just took carry-on to the airport. We caught a no-frills Virgin Blue flight to Melbourne, getting a wonderful view of Sydney Harbour soon after take off. We landed at cloudy Melbourne late morning, and met by Ctozfan (Mel), who we’d met late last Dec at the shows in California, and who had kindly offered us hospitality here in her home city.
She first kindly acceded to my request, and drove us north west away from the city. We were heading for a very short visit to the village/settlement of Gisborne, Victoria. There are only two places in the world (that my family knows of) called Gisborne, and this was one of them (I’d visit the other in a couple of weeks). The place was very small, sleepy, but pleasant, and nice to have visited.
Mel then drove us to Melbourne, on the way passing through Sunbury where the famous cricketing Ashes originated. OK, only the Brits and Aussies reading this will understand the importance of this sporting “trophy”. The suburbs of Melbourne sprawled, far more than I expected, but eventually we got to Mel’s house and met her very nice family.
After dinner we took a couple of Melbourne trams to the downtown venue for tonight’s show. The trams are a local institution so I gather, and caused the invention of the totally original “Melbourne hook” driving manouevre, where you go to the extreme LEFT to make a RIGHT turn. Honestly, it’s bizarre but it’s what they do! Like with yellow school buses in the US, you are also not supposed to pass a stationary tram, for fear of hitting an alighting passenger.
We got to the Rod Laver Arena just before 7pm and picked up our tickets at willcall. Then we joined the crowds entering the famous venue, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament. It’s also right next door to the even more famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – again, only the Brits & Aussies will have heard of it, but it’s renowned as one of the great sporting venues in the world, honest.
Anyway, inside the Rod Laver Arena, local band The Galvatrons had just started their 30 minute set. The Arena can hold a maximum of about 12,000 I believe, but for a concert layout it was about 8,000. The main floor had rows of flat seating, and to the sides and rear were large banks of seats, topped with hospitality boxes. The stage was large, with a catwalk/runway extending out into the main floor. For anyone who went to the Aerosmith/CT shows in 2004, it was something like that. High up to either side of the stage were video screens, with another behind the stage.
The lights went down for CT at 7.58pm, and we heard the “clean” Dave Rule introduction (“… please welcome to the stage, the best band this towns ever seen, CHEAP TRICK!”) Cool to see 6x logo’s projected to the two side stage screens, and a large 2x logo on the wide screen behind Bun.
black suit, white shirt, CT bowtie
Hello There, Big Eyes fakeout intro into… 70’s Song, California Man, Big Eyes, Oh Caroline, Clock Strikes Ten, I Want You to Want Me, TP solo intro into… I Know What I Want, Downed, The Flame, Surrender, Goodnight Now, Dream Police
The venue was about 2/3 full when CT took to the stage, but soon filled up during their set. Bun was playing a burnt orange kit with his CT “Sgt Pepper” style logo on it.
I don’t think most of the crowd would have noticed, but for those of us who see the band often, it was clear very early on the RZ wasn’t quite right, his voice was a little hoarse and he struggled to make some notes that he normally makes with ease. However, he performed manfully, aided by the rest of the band, and no one was let down in the least. The band got a good reaction from the large crowd throughout, and the sound was great where we were seated in the banked seating off to Rick’s side of the Arena.
The band stormed into the set with “Hello There”, “70’s Song” and “California Man” (with RN solo intro on the catwalk), before taking a short breather for Rick to address the crowd. “Yeah, thank you very much! We’re called Cheap Trick, and we’re proud to be in Australia for our first tour… except for the ones we did in 1979… 1980…! It’s great to be back in Melbourne with the Def Leppard guys <big crowd cheer>. Here’s a song we haven’t done since Tokyo”, and they went into “Big Eyes”. That had an interesting drum beat intro by Bun E. Afterwards, Rick changed his spiel a little, with “The next song has 3 chords – D minor, G minor and A minor…” (of course we normally hear that about “Best Friend” which has the chords, all join in now… E minor, C and A!) He continued “We know there are a lot of great musicians in Australia, so please play along!” The band went into a nice version of “Oh Caroline” though RZ was a tad croaky.
“IWYTWM” got the crowd going as always. During the song Rick zinged Robin accidentally with a pick, causing Robin to briefly look back quizically. After that, Rick namechecked Bun E, twice, then introduced Tom as “the inventor if the 12 string bass guitar and former resident of the great state of Victoria, no shit!” Tom played the “Midnight Lamp” solo before starting “IKWIW”. I ask again, is there nowhere in this big, wide world that Tom hasn’t lived? <LOL> Yeah, I can’t wait to hear what would be said at a show in Outer Mongolia!
After “IKWIW”, Rick announced that “… we’re from the States and we have an election coming up in 48 hours… f*** Palin…but not literally!” He then mentioned that he’d had a black guitar brought to him today by Jim Dyson from Melbourne, and wanted a crowd vote as to whether to keep it or not. The crowd reaction was pretty apathetic, causing Rick to say “Sounded like a McCain vote so we’ll get rid of it”.
It was nice to hear “Downed” again, and I noted a little extra glee in Rick when he sang backing for the line “… way down under in Australia!” Afterwards, Rick reminded the crowd “Did I mention we’re playing here with Def Leppard?” <big crowd cheer again> Rick knows how to work a crowd of course! He continued “Ladies and Gentlemen, my favourite lead singer in the whole wide world… no, not Joe Elliot, though I like him…Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Robin Zander”. Robin launched into “The Flame”, but didn’t attempt the big note at the end. The big, rear stage logo was turned off for this song.
After “Surrender”, Robin thanked the crowd, “Thank you thank you thank you very much, we’re Cheap Trick, goodnight everybody”. But as the main support act, no time to leave the stage, and the band quickly launched into “Goodnight Now” which had two endings. Rick had played a checkerboard guitar for “Surrender” and the “new” korina 5 neck for “Goodnight Now”. Right after “Goodnight”, Rick asked “Do you mind if we do another one?”. The band launched into “Dream Police”, and during the climactic ending RZ knelt down on the catwalk, removed his hat and freed his hair. At the end, Rick said “Thank you thank you thank you… we made it! We almost had to cancel but we wanted to play Melbourne”. The set ended at 8.52pm, a few minutes short of the allotted 60 minutes.
During Def Lepp’s set, Joe Elliot thanked the opening bands, saying that Robin had a sore throat. That explained a lot, though the band and Robin had put on a fine performance for the Melbourne crowd.
We stayed to watch Def Leppard, and like Journey back in the autumn, they used an AC/DC song (this time, “For Those About to Rock”) to help stir up the crowd before a short video montage and then their set starting at 9.25pm. It was a masterclass of arena rock, with the occasional use of video, liberal sprinklings of Joe Elliott working the crowd, guitar solo’s, sweaty bare chests and anthemic chant-a-longs like “Rocket”, “Animal” and “Let’s Get Rocked”. They do it well and the crowd weren’t disappointed. It was interesting to consider and contrast the styles of the two main bands. Without any disrespect to Def Lepp, their show owes a lot to the presentation, whilst for CT, aside from Rick’s antics, the focus is much more on the songs. Just an observation.
joined the crowds streaming away from the arena after the show, caught a couple
of trams back to Mel’s place, posted a quick show review and bed. One down, four
to go! Hopefully the time wouldn’t fly too quickly!
Tues 4 Nov
We had a lovely morning/lunchtime with Mel and her family at St Kilda, a Melbourne suburb on the beach. It was bright and sunny, though with quite a stiff sea breeze. Mel kindly drove us back to Melbourne Airport. We drove though the very quiet city centre, explained by the Melbourne Gold Cup horse race held this afternoon, for which the city stops and it’s a local holiday. Many American readers may not be aware, but this is one of the worlds premier horse races, along with the Kentucky Derby, the Grand National and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. We should have had a flutter, we saw the end of the race at the airport and the winner wore checkerboard!
Pat and I flew back to Sydney late afternoon, getting back to our first nights hotel and getting a more pleasant desk agent as well as a room with a queen bed.
We had much of the day free before tonight’s show, so we started off watching US election coverage on TV. Interesting to watch early results a projections, with things looking good for Obama. We did some sightseeing downtown, including at Harbourside. Back at the hotel in the afternoon we saw Obama had won the Presidency.
We left the hotel at 4.30pm in bright sunshine to take the train out to Sydney Olympic Park. Here’s an odd, trivia fact, in the first few days of this trip I’d visited 4 Olympic cities – London, Seoul, Melbourne and Sydney. Anyway, the Olympic Park was very quiet when we arrived, also very clean and spacious. It looked like it must have been a wonderful setting for the Games back in 2000. We walked to the Acer Arena, to find a few Def Lepp fans enjoying the sunshine whilst waiting to go in. The doors opened at 6pm though we couldn’t go into the actual arena right away. Through entry doors we could hear bits of “Downed” and the complete “Oh Caroline”. CT were soundchecking late, but Robin’s voice was sounding fine. We could finally go in at 6.30pm – like Melbourne it had a flat main floor with rows of seating, then two levels of banked seating up to a ring of private boxes. I guess the capacity for the gig was upwards of 8,000. As before, there were large video screens to side and rear stage, plus a burgundy pelmet arrangement for Def Lepp’s “Sparkle Lounge” theme.
As before, The Galvatrons were on from 7.00 to 7.35pm. The stage changeover was quick and the lights went down for Cheap Trick at 7.53pm. The venue was filling up, and was probably 2/3 full by the time CT started their set.
black suit, white shirt, CT bowtie
Hello There, Big Eyes fakeout intro into… 70’s Song, California Man, If You Want My Love, Come On Come On, TP solo intro into… I Know What I Want, IWYTWM, Voices, Downed, The Flame, Surrender, Goodnight Now, Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen
Interesting to see a few setlist changes from Melbourne, perhaps the set there had been tweaked to better suit Robin’s sore throat that evening? Tonight, in came “If You Want My Love”, “Come On Come On” and “Voices”, out went “Big Eyes”, “Oh Caroline” and “Clock Strikes Ten”. Regular set closer “Auf Wiedersehen” also came back in at Sydney tonight, and it looked like a late decision had been made at Melbourne to cut it because of Robin’s throat. Also cool to see that Rick was wearing a large “Obama” button on his suit jacket lapel, most appropriate for today and given to him shortly before the show I understand.
From the start we could hear that Robin’s throat was considerably better after a couple of days rest, as he sounded his normal, powerful self. Rick had to swap out his guitar mid-way through “70’s Song”, and like in Melbourne, Rick used the catwalk for his guitar solo intro to “California Man”. After that he addressed the crowd in his inimitable way, “Hello! Just in case you’re not sure, we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes, Cheap Trick!” He continued jokingly, “This is our first tour of Australia… well, except for 1978… 1993…” and tailed off! “We are the four original guys, we’ve never broken up and we’ve never quit touring… in other words, we’re too dumb to quit!” And in reference to the US election, he said “What about Obama?” He then asked “Does anyone feel like singing tonight? Please sing along”. The band went into the crowd pleasing “If You Want My Love” which I believe had been a #1 hit here in Australia.
After a great sounding “Come On Come On”, Rick again said a few words, “What a fine looking crowd we have here tonight”. He pointed out someone wearing a CT shirt “Lemmy? Is that you? Are you still drunk?” He continued “It’s a pleasure to be here with Def Leppard”, which oddly brought little crowd reaction. “Is this mic on?” he asked. “Normally I have the crowd in the palm of my hand” he joked. He tried again, “Cheap Trick and Def Leppard, how about that folks?” This time the crowd responded with a loud cheer. He continued “The Galvatrons… we saw them on TV, they were asked who did “Dream Police” – he said “f*cked if I know!” And if you don’t like the setlist tonight,. Rod Duckworth in the second row wrote it. And if you do like it, I wrote it! And now my favourite inventor, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Tom Petersson”. Tom went into the “Midnight Lamp” solo before starting up “I Know What I Want”. At the end, Rick gave his guitar to the aforementioned Rod Duckworth, the crowd booed when Rick’s tech went to retrieve it!
There was a big crowd cheer to Robin’s “I want you, to want, ME!” intro, and lots of crowd clapping towards the end. Afterwards, Rick continued “It’s good to be back in Australia, thank you very much. Did I mention we’re here with Def Leppard? <big crowd cheer> We’ve been to Europe and the USA with those guys, they called us up a few months ago when KISS couldn’t do it (!) and asked if we wanted to go to Australia. We said “Yes”! Ladies and Gentlemen, my favourite lead singer in the whole wide world, I’m not BS-ing for once, Mr Robin Zander”. The band then went into “Voices”. The crowd didn’t really do the “warm voices, cool voices” singalong, though Rick was rocking out nontheless.
“Downed” sounded terrific. We were treated to about two seconds of Led Zepp’s “Kashmir” riff before Rick introduced Robin for “The Flame”. Robin made the big note towards the end with ease, and the song got a big crowd reaction.
“Goodnight Now” saw 3 endings, with Rick asking at the end “Do you mind if we do one more?” Robin let his hair down on the catwalk during the mid-part of “Dream Police” and missed a line! However, nice use of the catwalk by both Rick and Robin, the latter throwing his towel into the crowd at the end of the catwalk. For the last lines of “Dream Police”, Robin faced Bun, and looked back teasingly over his shoulder after each line. The set closer, “Auf Wiedersehen” saw Rick skipping madly across the stage throughout, missing a couple of cues as a result.
The set ended at 8.53pm, and the band had been well received by the large crowd. Cool to have seen a few people dancing along near our seats high up on Tom’s side.
Def Leppard took to the stage at 9.20pm, playing to 10.55pm.
Afterwards we took two trains back into downtown Sydney, and cool that some Def
Lepp fans responded to seeing our CT shirts by saying that CT had been great.
Thurs 6 Nov – Cheap Trick in Newcastle
Another beautiful, sunny, early summer’s morning in Sydney. We took a mid-morning train back to the airport to pick up the rental car – oddly it was half the cost to collect/drop off at the airport than to collect at a rental office downtown, go figure. We ended up getting a GPS/satnav unit, which we christened “Janet” and which made life interesting later. I also had to make a couple of phone calls at the airport, as suburban Sydney has several toll roads, operated by different companies, so you need to register your car. Some of the toll roads have electronic tolling only, so you can’t pay in cash, and so you risk big fines if you don’t register and inadvertently don’t pay. Definitely a pitfall for the uninformed and unaware visitor.
We drove north, and once we got away from the congested streets near the airport, things got easier and quicker. The driving was pretty easy, as the car was an automatic and Australia drives on the left like the UK. We drove on a motorway through some pretty countryside before turning off just before Gosford where we visited the lovely “Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park”. When researching the trip, I’d wanted to see native species like kangaroos and koala’s, preferably in a natural habitat and not in a zoo or petting park. And this place was ideal, as the creatures were semi-wild and had plenty of acres of natural (but enclosed) bush to live in. Some of the kangaroos and wallabies were semi-tame, as they were used to seeing human visitors, and during one walk it was really cool to feed some. For the record, kangaroo and koala fur is beautifully soft, and it was wonderful to see them (also emu’s, dingo’s and a wombat) in a natural habitat. I can’t recommend this park highly enough, it’s only an hour north of Sydney. If you live nearby or visiting Sydney, go! You won’t be disappointed!
After a wonderful 4 hours at the Park, it was time to drive on up to Newcastle. We stopped at a roadside McDonalds en route, and two Def Lepp t-shirt wearing fans walked in just as we did. We talked with them briefly, and cool that they’d enjoyed seeing CT. Like us they were doing several shows, and we saw them again at Wollongong. We drove through some beautiful Aussie bush on the way up to Newcastle.
We reached the Entertainment Centre in Newcastle at 6.15pm, “Janet” having safely navigated us there. We went through about 10 roundabouts on the way into Newcastle from the motorway, it was like driving in England! At the venue we were directed to park in some sort of show ring for local fairs I guess, there was even a small ferris wheel nearby. The outside of the venue was like a large green & white barn, not quite an Olympic standard arena!
This venue was the smallest so far, with an arena layout. It had a general admission floor, then 15 rows of low, banked seating to the sides and rear. Again, The Galvatrons opened, playing from 7-7.30pm. We were able to stand near the stage on Rick’s side, and cool to meet several local fans proudly wearing various CT shirts.
Cheap Trick came on at 7.53pm, at which time most of the seating was occupied but the main floor was perhaps half full. However, it transpired that this wasn’t a snub of CT, as it was the same for Def Leppard. It just wasn’t a sellout show.
black suit, white shirt, CT bowtie
Hello There, Big Eyes fakeout intro into… 70’s Song, California Man, If You Want My Love, Come On Come On, TP solo intro into… I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, Voices, Downed, The Flame, Surrender, Goodnight Now, Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen
Again the band appeared in fine form, storming through the first three songs of the set and sounding as good as I’ve heard them. After “California Man”, Rick said “Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen, we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes Cheap Trick, right here in Newcastle! Does anyone feel like singing tonight? I was in downtown Sydney this morning and heard this in a sex shop, so it made me feel really good! Here we go” and the band went into “If You Want My Love”.
At the start of “Come On Come On” Rick held up the yellow plexi guitar to his face, and afterwards he asked “Did I say we’re called The Galvatrons? You know why I didn’t? Because we’re not! Did I say we’re proud to be here with Def Leppard? Cos its true!” He then introduced Tom, who went into the “Midnight Lamp” solo before starting up “I Know What I Want”.
“IWYTWM” was of course the perennial crowd pleaser, after which Rick said “Yeah! Mr Bun E Carlos on drums” which started a “Bun E” chant going in the crowd, to which the drummer himself responded with a quick “ELO Kiddies” beat. Rick ran with the chant… “Bun E, Bun E! Good idea… “He’s a Bun E”… “I Want You To Want Bun”… “If You Want My Bun”… “Surren-Bun.E”… “The Dream Bun E”… we’ve got ‘em all” he quipped. He continued “Did I mention we’re called Cheap Trick? Did I mention we’re playing with Def Leppard? Joe, I did it. He pays our cheque! We’ve toured with them all over the US, in Europe, now we’re here in Australia. And now, my favourite lead singer – Mr New South Wales himself, Mr Robin Zander!” That started up a short “Robin, Robin” chant, before Rick said a few more words, ending that they were proud to be Americans today. The band then went into “Voices”, and cool to see the Cheap Trick fans in the crowd really having a good time. One guy near us who looked like Derek Smalls from the “Spinal Tap” movie, was wearing a faded CT Australian shirt from the 80’s, and was just rocking out to every song! That was fun to see, and I’m glad he was making the most of this rare opportunity.
After “Downed”, Rick led some crowd cheering from the different sides, initially noting how quiet the right side of the crowd was. He got each side to cheer before introducing Robin again for “The Flame”.
During “Surrender” the album flat went up, hit the lighting rig and came down on the catwalk. Robin retrieved it without missing a beat and made a nice, clean throw out into the crowd! “Goodnight Now” saw 3 endings, and Robin had his hair down for “Dream Police”. After a storming “Auf Wiedersehen” to finish the set, Rick leaned his guitar against his steps. He thanked the crowd, “…hope to see you next year”, and as he left the stage he knocked over his mic stand!
show ended at 8.53pm, and it was nice to chat to several of the CT fans (both
local and some who’d travelled from Melbourne) between then and the start of Def
Lepp’s set. They came on at 9.25pm, and whilst it was nice this time to be so
close to the stage and the action, the sound was too loud for the modest size of
this venue. We left at 10pm, ears ringing, and chatted some more outside the
venue with other CT fans who’d left early too. We drove away from the venue 15
minutes later, and I expected we’d be back at our hotel in Sydney by about
midnight. Hmmm, Janet had other ideas. We had a short McDonalds stop on the way
back, but before we reached the north Sydney suburbs Janet directed us off the
motorway. “Hmmm, I thought, this is odd”. However, the GPS has to know what its
doing (right?), maybe this is a quicker way back into the city. So we followed
the directions, down dark roads and then into quiet and almost deserted suburbs
until Janet presented us at Wentworth St… except this was a dark, sleepy
suburban street and not a well lit and busy city centre road not two miles from
Sydney Harbour. Huh, wrong address. So we tried again, this time inputting
another street near our hotel. We continued through the suburbs, then got onto
some motorway, went under Sydney Harbour twice, and finally over the Sydney
Harbour Bridge from north to south! At this point I roughly knew where we were,
so rather than let the GPS unit take us on a continuing, nightmarish late-night
magical mystery tour, I switched it off and found my own way back to the hotel.
The parking garage was by now locked up (it was 1.15am at this point and I’d
driven for 3 hours for a 90 mile journey), so I parked on a nearby street. I had
to set my alarm to be up before 8am to move the car. Bed was very welcome, after
I’d posted a quick show review to ct.com.
Fri 7 - Sun 9 Nov
I would have liked a lay-in, but I was up at 7am to move the car. Good job too - although the parking restrictions seemed to suggest free street parking until 8am, when I reached the car soon after 7am I saw a car a few behind mine getting towed! Yikes! Anyway, I quickly drove mine into the by-now open parking garage, went back to the hotel and back to bed.
Cheap Trick were playing in Brisbane on Sat 8th, but we chose to forgo that show in order to have some sightseeing time in/around Sydney. Otherwise we’d have travelled 12,000 miles and just seen concert venues and hotels! Much like the band I guess.
Friday 7th saw us drive inland to the pretty Blue Mountains of New South Wales, about an hour and a half drive from downtown Sydney. There were some very pretty views, of the “Three Sisters” rocks and of vast expanses of lush, blue tinged forest (the colour coming from the haze of eucalyptus oil given off by the forests). That evening we walked down to the harbour in light rain to see the lit-up Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.
Saturday 8th saw pleasant weather and we took the 30 minute ferry ride to Manly, meeting up with a couple of ex-colleagues of mine from England who were out here at the same time. The ferry ride offers great views of the harbour, and I’d recommend it. Manly was pleasant, with plenty of restaurants, and a wide, sweeping sandy beach. The only annoying thing was all the flies that bug you as you walk. Oh to have been able to buy one of those stereotypical Aussie hats with corks all around!
Sunday 9th saw us wandering downtown as it was nice, warm day. We
went to the giant, indoor “Paddy’s Markets”, with a huge number of stalls, most
of which seemed to be manned by Chinese people. We walked down to the harbour
again and explored around The Rocks area, including the interesting weekend
market there, in the shadow of one end of the Harbour Bridge. Got to love Aussie
TV showing so much British sport – late in the afternoon back at the hotel, I
accidentally (but happily) caught a re-run of a live TV game back home involving
my team, Bristol City! So it was fun to watch most of that game that had been
played a few hours ago, and to see a 1-0 against Southampton!
Mon 10 Nov – Cheap Trick in Wollongong (aka… “The ‘Gong”!)
Time to move on and leave Sydney. The day started off warm but overcast, and late in the morning Mel arrived from Melbourne. We left the hotel at 11.30am to drive the 60 miles or so down the coast to Wollongong. Once out of Sydney we passed some nice, thick forest, and on the steep hill down towards the city we got some tantalising glimpses of the coast and Wollongong itself. By now it was sunny and getting hot. We easily found our hotel, checked in, then walked out to get some lunch.
Later we walked the half mile or so to the WIN Entertainment Centre. It seemed very quiet out front, and as it was still fairly early we went on down to the beach that was just behind the venue. The beach was sandy and very pretty, with a small headland and lighthouse off to our left. Best not look right though, as beyond the beach in that direction was the large steelworks in the distance! Met up with those two Def Lepp fans nearby, they were amongst several people milling around between the beach and the rear of the venue. Apparently members of both bands had spent time on the beach during the afternoon. That was nice to hear that they actually got to see a bit more than just airports, hotels and venues.
Like Newcastle, this was a smaller arena-style venue, with a main GA floor, then banked seating of around about 20 rows to the side and rear. The ceiling was high, the seats dark blue and there was wooden flooring to the lower seating level. Again, the Galvatrons opened the show, from 7-7.30pm., sadly playing to a very sparse crowd. The venue was a bit bigger and nicer than Newcastle, but less of a crowd. We were again lucky tonight to get onto the GA floor and snag spots off on Tom’s side, at least for CT’s set. After The Galvatrons had finished, Mel spotted the rock historian Glenn A Baker coming back into the crowd from backstage. She briefly spoke to him, and he was overheard to say that he’d “had the privilege of meeting Cheap Trick”. The band took to the stage at 7.53pm, at which time the venue was about half full. It later reached about 2/3 full for the latter part of CT’s set and for Def Leppard.
black suit, white shirt, CT bowtie
Hello There, Big Eyes fakeout intro into… 70’s Song, California Man, If You Want My Love, Oh Candy, TP solo intro into… I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, Voices, Downed, The Flame, Surrender, Goodnight Now, Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen
Again, a quality performance from the band, despite the far from full venue. After “California Man” Rick told the crowd “By God, we made it back! The ‘gong! What a fine name for a town. I live in Rockford, Illinois… if it was called “’gong” we’d be famous” he joked. He spotted a guy standing near us wearing a skulls sweater, “That’s my sweater, did you steal it?” he asked. The band then went into “If You Want My Love”. Afterwards, Rick noted “Boy, did you guys sing that good!” Robin added “It’s first album time”, and it was a nice surprise to hear the band go into “Oh Candy”.
After “Oh Candy”, Rick endeared himself to the crowd by asking “Did I mention we’re playing here with Def Leppard?” that of course brought a big cheer. He continued “It’s an honour they’ve chosen us as their second best new group of the year! They didn’t say which year…! We’ve toured with them in the US and Europe… we still owe them money so here we are!” He then introduced Tom, who played a “Within You Without You” solo before starting up “I Know What I Want”. At the end of that, Rick stood his guitar up on its end to make his tech run!
After “IWYTWM” Rick announced “The Galvatrons invited us to show up at their between shows gig… but we couldn’t get in! Their bouncer guy <Rick pointed him out!> wouldn’t let me and Tom in… we were too old to get in! I love being in Australia, and I love the ‘gong!” The band went into “Voices”, then “Downed”.
After “Downed”, Rick asked “Did I mention that we’re called Cheap Trick? A special shout out to Glenn A Baker, a f*cking living legend… I’m surprised he’s still living! Now we’ve met him, we’ll finally get a good review!”
Rick broke a string during “Surrender” but played on to the end of the song. “Goodnight Now” saw 3 endings.
show ended at 8.55pm and had been a nice one despite it not being a full house.
As we didn’t have to drive anywhere, we stayed on for the whole of Def Leppard’s
set, though we moved back to our seats way off to Tom’s side, as standing by the
speakers would have been way too loud. When Joe Elliott thanked the opening
bands, it was cool to hear him say that “Cheap Trick, our favourite band,
really”. As traditional it seems, we ended up getting a post-show McDonalds
nearby, luckily getting there just before the main rush.
Tues 11 Nov – Cheap Trick in Canberra
I didn’t sleep great, although the room was fine I kept being half woken by the AC clunking on and off. Then we were conclusively woken up at 7.25am by a loud garbage/bottle collection truck right outside our room. <sigh>
We left the hotel at 9.15am, though we found that Janet, the GPS wouldn’t switch on. Maybe she was fed up of the CT CD’s we’d been playing, or bored of our discussions on the relative merits of CT and DL? Luckily I’d noticed an Avis agency only a mile away from the hotel, so I drove there, and we eventually got the GPS swapped for another, who we christened “Kylie”. It was another beautiful and sunny morning as we pulled out of Avis at 9.35am. Kylie directed us, and we left “the ‘gong” and headed inland towards Canberra and the last show of the tour.
We drove inland on the sharply winding, steeply climbing but beautiful Macquarie Pass through thick forest, which eventually gave spectacular views to the east. Then we were into the beautiful green rolling hills of the Southern Highlands, which had quite a Scottish feel with place names and the like. We later joined up with the main roads heading south west towards the capital, spotting a couple of wild roos in the shade of a tree. We also saw road signs to be aware of roos and wombats crossing. Just in case you’re not sure, this is Australia! Nearer Canberra, just into the ACT we sadly had about a two mile stretch of road where we saw several dead roo bodies by the side of the road. :-(
We reached Canberra at 1pm, it seemed very clean, spacious, yet oddly somewhat soulless. Anyway, we found our hotel, checked in, then had a quick drive around. We went to the Australian War Memorial, which was all the more poignant as it had hosted a Nov 11th Remembrance Day service a little earlier in the day. I gathered from Mel that ANZAC Day is actually regarded as more significant in Australia, but it was still somewhat poignant to see wreaths of poppies and other flowers here today. We also saw other War Memorials all the way down the wide ANZAC Parade, and in the distance over the lake, the Parliament buildings.
We were at the venue later in the afternoon, the AIS Arena at the Australian Institute of Sport. The Institute is where many of Australia’s top sporting stars are developed and trained, and the complex included several different sporting venues. All, including the AIS Arena looked pretty new, clean and impressive. Inside, the Arena was a good size, perhaps with a capacity 2/3 of that at Sydney or Melbourne. The set up was a GA floor, then 18 rows of banked seating, very nice and very modern. Unusually, the banked seating was numbered downwards not upwards, so row A wasn’t nearest the floor but 18 floors up! That didn’t matter much to us, we were pretty much in a middle row anyway.
The Galvatrons played from 7-7.30pm, and their lead singer said how much they’d enjoyed their touring stint with Def Leppard and Cheap Trick. After a quick stage changeover, the lights went down at 7.53pm for Cheap Trick. The size of the crowd was better here than at both Newcastle and Wollongong, with lots in at the start of CT’s set.
black suit, white shirt, CT bowtie
Hello There, Big Eyes fakeout intro into… 70’s Song, California Man, If You Want My Love, Come On Come On, TP solo intro into… I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, Voices, Downed, The Flame, Surrender, Goodnight Now, Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen
The band stormed into a wonderfully performed set, playing “Hello There”, “70’s Song” and “California Man” to an appreciative audience. After that Rick told the crowd “Aw shucks, what a treat it is to be back in Australia! Just in case, we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes Cheap Trick! We came here when we were still in grade school in 1978 (!)… its great to be back! Does everyone feel like singing tonight? This is from one of the best movies of the last 25 years. It should have won an Academy Award… Joe Dirt”. The band of course went into “If You Want My Love”. Robin then briefly introduced “Oh Candy” by saying “Here’s one from our first record”.
After “Oh Candy”, Rick announced “I’ve got good news and bad news… the bad news is that it’s the last night for us on the tour, bad for us as we’ve really enjoyed being in Australia. The good news is that we’re playing with Def Leppard and the one and only Galvatrons! I saw their singer on TV… did he say that Cheap Trick was awful or awesome? I thought they said awful! And now, the inventor of the 12 string bass guitar, “Bass Player” guitar magazines Bass Player of the Year… Mr Tom Petersson!” Tom played some solo “Within You Without You” before leading the band into a spirited “I Know What I Want”.
As ever, the crowd went wild for “IWYTWM”. Afterwards, Rick said “Yeah! On the drums Mr Bun E Carlos” which brought a brief “ELO Kiddies” beat from Bun in reply. Rick continued “Did I mention we’re playing here with Def Leppard? <big crowd cheer> God they’re good! And they practiced all day so tonight they’ll be better! The next song features my favourite lead singer in the whole wide world, Mr Robin Zander!” The band went into “Voices”, and interesting to see a Def Lepp (?) tech briefly join Rick for a line or two of backing vocals.
After “Downed”, Rick mentioned that “hot on the heels of the tour here, on January 11th “Live at Budokan” is coming out.” I was a little confused about that as it was being released today back in the States – perhaps Jan 11 is the Australian release date? Anyway, he continued with “We have a video single out here called “Light”… Robin corrected him, saying “Lights”… Rick went on “it’s only available on Australian iTunes. You’ll have to wait a few months to get it on a record.” The band then went into “The Flame”, and “Surrender” saw Rick announce “Canberra’s alright!”
The final “Goodnight Now” of the tour was a frenzied and energised affair, with a long, long first ending, followed by two more. Afterwards Rick said “How about that shit? Would you like some more?” The band went into “Dream Police”, during which Def Lepp’s drummer Rick Allen briefly watched from rear side stage, and even took a picture of some of the crowd. And during this, as well as much of the second half of CT’s set, one of Def Lepp’s tech’s kept flicking guitar picks at Rick from side stage. Near the end of “Auf Wiedersehen” Rick spilt water on his steps. His tech had to run on quickly to wipe off the water. And RN offered him his rear end to wipe too! Rick’s parting line was “Hope to see you next year… January 11th, Budokan DVD”.
The show ended at 8.54pm, and a finely performed and well received set it had been. The band had finished the tour on a high, and they certainly got a great reaction throughout from the Canberra crowd. The only thing I was mildly surprised at was that none of Def Lepp joined CT during the set. I remember reading that at an Albuquerque show at the end of a short tour together 4-5 years ago, two or three of Def Lepp had joined CT on stage. Anyway, tonight’s show didn’t suffer in any way from that not happening.
stayed on for about half an hour of Def Leppard before leaving during their
acoustic section. It was 10pm, and we had to be up in 6 hours time. The roads
leading away from the AIS Arena were quiet, though at a crossroads we nearly got
hit by a fast speeding car that jumped the red light without slowing at all.
Luckily I’d been slow to pull away when my light turned green, else we might
have had a terrible end to the tour. We drove back into almost deserted downtown
Canberra, stopping at a McDonalds. It was one of the dirtiest and worst I’ve
ever been to anywhere in the world, and they got our orders totally wrong and
the food was barely lukewarm. It just didn’t seem worth bothering to complain. I
posted a quick review to ct.com, then we said our goodbyes to Mel in the hotel
lobby at midnight. It had been fun to spend time with her (and her family)
during this whirlwind tour, and she’d helped make it a lot of fun.
Weds 12 – Fri 21 Nov - Travelling home, the long way round (with a little CT content)
Everyone was flying home… even me. Though whilst everyone else was pretty much heading back to the States straight away, I was going to have a longer and more leisurely journey home. Instead of 24 hours, my trip home was going to take 10 days! Mind you, I was going to stop off twice en-route.
Wednesday morning (12th) saw me flying from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand. There’s a small city on the east coast of NZ called Gisborne (in Poverty Bay no less, how ironic!), and since I was so “close” by in Sydney (in relative terms), it seemed silly not to try for a quick flying visit there. Patricia and I were up at a stupid time, 4am, having had only 4 hours sleep in Canberra. We left a little after 5am, as we had a 170 mile drive to Sydney Airport. My flight to Auckland was scheduled to leave at 10.45am, whilst Pat’s flight to LAX was departing around noon. In the pre-dawn darkness we caught a glimpse of a wild roo bouncing across the road ahead of us, very cool.
We made it to the airport OK despite hitting the Sydney rush hour traffic, and I was ready to check in around 9am. Unfortunately I had to pay an excess baggage charge… too much shopping had been done! I flew to New Zealand on a LAN Chile flight, a new airline for me. Not much to add, economy on a Chilean plane is much like economy on most other average airlines.
New Zealand was stunning, mostly. After landing at Auckland at 4.10pm, I was quickly out and got my rental car (no GPS/satnav though). That late afternoon/early evening I drove to the small town of Tauranga on the north coast/Bay of Plenty. After leaving Auckland behind and getting onto route 2, the countryside became magnificent. Lush fields, and green rolling hills and hillocks with mist capped hills/mountains in the distance. So many times I expected to see hobbits appear on the hills! There was little traffic, though I did hit several patches of road resurfacing (which happened every day until I got back to Auckland). In many fields there were contented looking cows munching away happily at the emerald green grass. Strangely I saw more cows than sheep on my visit, though I did only visit a small fraction of NZ. The villages and small towns I passed through looked quaint and to a degree a throwback to a byegone age. It’s hard to fully describe, but I can understand why many people describe parts of New Zealand as being like Britain in about the 1930's’. The pace of life just felt slower and less rushed. And the rolling hillsides reminded me of rural parts of Britain, only better.
After a night in a pleasant little motel in Tauranga, I drove east, past the Kiwi360 experience at Te Puke which some American readers may have seen featured in the “Amazing Race” TV show. I saw some spectacular and deserted coastline towards Opotiki. I then drove towards Gisborne, passing through the spectacular Waioeka Gorge for some 30 miles. The steep sides of the gorge were thick green forest including those cool tree ferns that are so typically New Zealand. On the other side of the gorge, the scenery became hilly again, but less rolling and more sharp, with deep valleys. As I approached Gisborne, I started passing vineyards, which is one of the things the area is famed for. The other is that Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the dawn each day.
Gisborne itself was very small as cities go (more of a small, low-rise town really), but it was pleasant, and again had that somewhat colonial/byegone age feel to its architecture. It is the place where Captain James Cook first landed in New Zealand, and a couple of statues and monuments commemorate the fact. It also has a large, curving beach that’s popular with surfers. Rick Nielsen once said “The first thing I did when I got to Japan was buy a Japanese guitar”. Well, the first thing I did when I got to Gisborne was to buy a new Japanese camera. Upon getting to my hotel room I found the digital screen on my existing one had broken :-( I could still take pictures, but could barely see what I was trying to shoot. I quickly had to find a camera shop on the main street so I could continue capturing my travels, and I ended up buying a Canon. The people I met over the next 20 hours were very nice, some were even vaguely impressed at a Gisborne visiting Gisborne, as if I was accidentally passing through rather than having planned this short visit from 12,000 miles away! I visited the tiny Sunshine Brewery that brews “Gisborne Gold” beer, which, impartially of course, I highly recommend! <LOL> One bugbear, in NZ they pronounce the city name as “Gisburn”… that’s just not right!
The following day (14th) I drove back through the Waioeka Gorge, the weather was again beautifully sunny and warm (away from the coast). I drove through more beautiful scenery and past magnificent blue lakes with black swans on them, to the town of Rotorua, which is apparently the North Islands most visited tourist spot. As I drove into the town I thought I’d had a sudden, nasty intestinal incident, before remembering that this town is famous for its sulphurous springs. After reaching my motel (the very nice Best Western Braeside), I drove back into town and saw clouds of steam coming from behind thick bushes. I found somewhere to park, and explored Kuira Park, which has lots of small and large sulphurous springs bubbling out the foul smelling steam, as well as some small bubbling mud pools. Pretty amazing, but smelled pretty disgusting when the wind blew the wrong way!
Rotorua is a centre of all sorts of outdoor pursuits, which unsurprisingly includes sailing etc (seeing as its built on the shores of a large lake). I must apologise but I didn’t have time to partake in any pursuits or sports, but I’m sure this is a top place to come to do outdoor stuff in clean, fresh air (unless the wind is blowing the wrong way that is!)
Before leaving Rotorua the next afternoon, I spent the morning at the terrific living (and thermal) Maori village of Whakarewarewa. The cool thing is that 26 families still live here, living normal lives whilst being visited by tourists every day. The village is also built around many thermal springs, with bubbling water as hot as 150 degrees. The sulphurous smell takes some getting used to, but it was really cool to see how the villagers use the thermal springs to cook and bathe in (not in the same places of course), and also to see two nearby geysers erupt into the air. Again, pretty amazing.
I then drove back to Auckland where I stayed two nights. What can I say? It’s a modern, western city, built around a wide harbour, and where boating and sailing are major business and recreation. I disliked driving in the city centre, not easy to get on/off the motorway where you wanted to go. I have to say, I’d return and visit and explore the other 95% of NZ in a heartbeat, but Auckland I could honestly take or leave. Oh, mild Cheap Trick reference. On the main Queen Street I walked by the Town Hall, where the band played in 1979 and where for all I know, they may still hold the record as the loudest band to ever play at that venue!
The morning of Mon 17th was dull and damp, the first rain I think I’d seen in over two weeks. But no worries, the temperature was still in the 70’s, and I was leaving today anyway to fly north to Seoul, South Korea. The flight with Korean Air took 12 hours, which is quite a long time. Luckily the plane was far from full and I was back in a Business Class seat. And quel surprise, I maybe dozed for 2 hours. Arriving at Seoul was something of a shock. Not only was it mid-evening, but it was FREEZING! Brrrr! The temperature was a biting 2C, 33F. Bit of a change from the 70’s and 80’s and sunshine I’d had for the past two weeks “down under”. I was very happy to reach my city centre hotel late in the evening and find my room heated to 80F… except I couldn’t adjust it! I slept on top of the bed covers each night!
I spent 3 full days at Seoul, and I like it there. OK, it’s a busy, bustling city, but like those in Japan it’s a mix of the very modern and the traditional. It also feels somewhat smaller and more roomy than Tokyo, though in places it’s very crowded and driving must be a nightmare. I visited here back in April for a long weekend using airline points, so I’d already seen some of the main sightseeing places. This time I tried to visit places I hadn’t seen before. The first two days were bitterly cold but sunny, and I walked up a pretty steep hill to a Shamanist village and temple, also seeing a part of the old city wall. I also visited the World Cup (soccer) Stadium which has a shopping mall built beneath it (though why does the stadium shop sell Chelsea and Man Utd shirts?), the Dongdaemun (East Gate), revisited the Gwanghwamun Gate entrance to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, and generally walked around a lot. Cool to discover lots of interesting little streets, also to reacquaint myself with the huge amount of underground shopping mall space with small shops and stores. When the streets above get too hot or cold or crowded, it’s amazing to think of almost another city just under the pavements. You can walk between quite a few places underground without seeing the sunlight (or feeling the freezing temperatures!) And one other thing that I was reminded of from my first visit was that, despite South Korea being very high tech and modern with all the sorts of high end stores you’d expect, there are a huge number of streetside stalls selling anything and everything, as well as food. There must be thousands of the stalls just in the city centre alone. God knows how many of the people scrape a living, but they must do. The stalls and street markets seem to stay open until midnight or later, even on these freezing nights. This really is a city and culture that rarely sleeps.
OK, another CT reference. The Hard Rock Café in Seoul has re-opened since I was last here 7 months ago, and it now boasts some Cheap Trick items on display in its spacious basement restaurant. A Les Paul guitar with an ever-so-faint Rick signature, signed “Don’t Be Cruel” 7” sleeve, a picture of Rick and Robin from the mid-90’s, an unsigned “Busted” group photo and an unsigned “One on One” LP cover. Photo’s will be found on my HRC/CT page in a day or two.
On my last day in Seoul I did the DMZ tour to near the North Korean border. Unfortunately there wasn’t a tour available to the very border during my visit. The DMZ area is controlled by the United Nations so it isn’t always possible to go to the Panmunjom border village. But as I did back in April, I got to go down into the “3rd Tunnel” (built for North Korea to use to invade the south), the Dora Observatory and the modern but barely used Dorasan railway station. Interesting stuff, though the bizarrest place is Panmunjom and I hope one day to finally get there.
I flew back to England all day on Fri 21st Nov, with the flight from Seoul to London taking almost 12 hours. Although the other flights had been nearly as long, this felt by far the longest. Maybe it was the overly warm temperature in the cabin, or perhaps it was because it was the final flight home, and the very end of a memorable 3 weeks away. I reached Heathrow at 4.20pm, but with immigration, customs, getting to the parking place to retrieve my car, and then hitting the static rush hour traffic on the M4, M25 and M1 motorways, I didn’t make it home to Leeds until after 10.30pm. It had been 23 hours since leaving my hotel in Seoul, and I was absolutely ready to be home!
And so ended the tour. The main focus had of course been the shows in Australia, and it had been wonderful to be able to go and see Cheap Trick play there. The Australian fans and people I met were fantastic, and it’s a wonderful country. Definitely a place I want to go back to. Going on to New Zealand too had been an amazing experience, and that’s also a beautiful country that I want to spend far more time in. And going back to Seoul had been like returning to see an old, busy friend.
Fingers crossed that there’ll be another opportunity to visit Australia in
conjunction with a Cheap Trick tour there!
As always, several people to thank for all their help, support and company during the trip. Particular thanks to Patricia for being wonderful company in Australia, and for stopping me for smashing Janet when she delivered us to the darkest suburbs of Sydney at midnight! Many thanks also to CT fan Mel for her company, kindness and hospitality. Thanks to all the cool CT fans we met at the shows. And last but definitely not least, BIG thanks as always to Cheap Trick, to Carla, Todd, Jon and the techs.
Gisborne – They persecute me right here in Leeds, England – 26 Nov 2008
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