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This was the last (and longest) trip of a run of shows in August and September for me. The California trip has become something of an annual event for both myself and several others, with Cheap Trick usually having several shows and many fans having the chance to meet up. This year was no different, with the run of shows being scheduled in late September for the third year running. However, the weather should still be good, the shows should be great and the company fun! This run of shows was a little different than previous years, in that two venues were hosting the band for two consecutive nights, so it looked like we'd be guaranteed two different setlists at those. Anyway, sit down and make yourself comfortable with the drink of your choice, as there's a long story to tell! Let's start at the beginning, in a small northern English city far, far away…

Weds 22 Sept

An early start, as always, for a long travelling day. I had a convoluted Northwest Airlines & KLM itinerary, so I was up at 5am, on a train before 7am from Leeds and taking off from Manchester Airport before 11am. I flew to Amsterdam, and connected to a Northwest flight to Memphis. The transatlantic flight was long and tedious, with my second (or third?) viewing of Shrek 2 in just a couple of months. Memphis was sunny though I was surprised at how small the airport was considering it was a Northwest hub. I had plenty of time to clear immigration and get my connection to LA, and I was upgraded on that so I got fed during the 4 hour flight to LAX. My regular travelling companion on the West Coast, Victoria, arrived shortly after I did, and we headed down to Anaheim for the first of many hotel nights! The LA evening was dry, warm and balmy… a far cry from chilly and damp England in late September!

Thurs 23 Sept – Cheap Trick in El Cajon

A warm and dry morning saw us head down I-5 to San Diego. We first went downtown for a walk around the Horton Plaza area, before then heading the few blocks down to Petco Park at the end of the historic Gaslamp District. Baseball's newest stadium has been open since April this year, and though the local Padres team had a big game today against the local enemies (the LA Dodgers), I had a date with Cheap Trick tonight instead. But I was delighted to find that there is landscaped parkland beyond the outfield which you can walk through (unless a game is on), so I was able to get excellent views into the stadium and infield, as well as easily get to the club store! One day I'll be back for a game!

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Victoria and I then found and checked into our hotel before heading east towards El Cajon and the Sycuan Casino that was hosting tonight's show. We were fine on I-8 but then came off at El Cajon and drove for mile after mile through hilly, rock-strewn countryside. We finally reached the Casino in the middle of nowhere, and others later that evening (who'd driven in the twilight) were heard to say that it felt like they'd driven so far they'd wondered if they'd accidentally crossed into Mexico!

The Casino was surprisingly large, and the entrance to the theatre venue was upstairs. After a quick (but good) Chinese meal, I went upstairs and helped set up the merchandise table. It never amazes me to see the odd places that Jon, Brian or whoever has to set up in. This time it was outside the theatre entrance, but literally just feet from row after row of slot machines with people sitting at them, chain smoking and feeding in coin after coin. It was noisy and smoky, and I've no idea how people who work in casino's can live with that, day after day. Like anything I guess they just tune it all out.

The Showcase Theatre was a nice, comfortable, intimate 600 seat casino venue, with the plush seats nicely banked. There were also video screens to both sides of the large stage though neither was on during the show. The band were due on at 8pm though they were a little late, possibly to make sure everyone could be in the theatre in time.

Cheap Trick came onto the stage at 8.11pm.

RN – Black suit, black t-shirt

RZ – Black pinstripe suit, white pinstripe shirt, dark tie, black hat

TP – Black suit, white shirt

BC – Black t-shirt, blue jeans

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, My Obsession, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, Day Tripper, Tonight Its You, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, The Flame, 70’ Song, Surrender // Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Goodnight Now

Surprisingly for a casino crowd, they stood from the moment the band came on. At the end of "Big Eyes" someone seemingly threw a few dollar bills onto the stage at Rick, who picked them up and walked around the stage giving one to each of the other band members! He then went on to announce that "we are the one, the only, the original Cheap Trick". At the end of "My Obsession", Rick gave his guitar to someone at the front, making his tech run to get it back after he'd given Rick his guitar for the next song. Something I noticed at every show that "Best Friend" was played at was how much this song is becoming the bands chance to just rock-out. It's already an intense song with Robin screaming his lungs out, but everyone just seems to let go in the big, climactic 2-3 minute ending. Robin in particularly was really into the song, even hitting his whammy bar several times late on. Rick too was very animated during this, with Tom and Bun keeping that heavy rhythm going. For me this song has become the highlight of the "regular" set. After "I Want You to Want Me" someone shouted for "Woke Up With a Monster" which prompted Rick to play just a quick bar of that. During "Day Tripper" Rick walked along the walkway off to Tom's side and to the side of the theatre where he mock-strangled the security guard there before getting back to the stage! After "Tonight Its You" Rick pointed out a heckler, or rather, someone who just kept shouting out between every song. He was close to the front on Tom's side, and Rick ended up going to talk to him and even briefly gave him the mic in exasperation! During this long pause, Bun came out from behind his drumkit, got some picks from Rick's tech and flicked them into the crowd. After "Lot to Lose" the guy was shouting again, this time it was Tom who went to talk to him… it was all a little odd. After "The Flame" Rick mentioned merchandise on sale, including "womens luscious pink t-shirts… hopefully they'll be taking them off later!" After "Dream Police", something new again… well, something I haven't seen Rick do for quite a while. Rick played solo guitar for about a minute or so before launching into the intro for "Scent of a Woman".

The show ended at 9.27pm and there was the usual post-show demand for t-shirts and CD's. After that was all done it was nice to get to chat a little with good friend Elliot from Scotland and his girlfriend, also with the two women from Phoenix that had been at the memorable Nampa meet'n'greet back in May. The drive back through the dark wilderness seemed endless until we got into El Cajon and back along I-8 to our hotel. One show down, four to go!

Fri 24 Sept – Cheap Trick in Long Beach (night #1)

Another bright day and another show to look forward to. We drove back up to Anaheim from San Diego and checked into our hotel - Long Beach looked pretty pricey to stay at so we'd booked a decent hotel some 20 minutes away instead. We drove to Long Beach, passing a giant pink ring donut atop a small coffee shop en-route (got to love such Americana!) and spent ten minutes trying to find somewhere close to the venue to park. We eventually parked Victoria's Trickmobile in a metered parking spot, where she'd need to watch out for where her time expired. Downtown Long Beach may have seemed sleepy enough but we later saw a parking meter attendant driving around in a small buggy, so it was wise to not risk a hefty parking fine.

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It was mid-afternoon and we found a few fans already waiting outside the venue, Vault 350. As well as Shoandra, Rick, Candice and Chris from near San Francisco, Adam K had arrived from New York, so it was good to see him and catch up on things. Later, other friends arrived, including Randy and Dia (now in Texas), Allie from New Jersey who was looking great after a difficult year health-wise, Steve and Lisa from the East Coast, Laurie from Chicago, and many friends from California such as Daria, Clare, Lisa, Elsa, Felicity and many others.

Inside, the venue was a large club with a medium sized stage but literally no sidestage at all. To front stage centre was a dance floor and to the sides were numerous tall bar tables and stools. There was a large bar along most of the rear wall and upstairs was a balcony to three sides with dinner table/booth's. The merchandise table was this time set up over to Rick's side of the room.

Doors opened at 7pm and the opening band came on at 8.15pm. They were a local punk-rock band called Channel 3. There were screens to both sides of the stage which projected the show, and the stage was curtained off until each band was due to start. By the time Cheap Trick came on at 9.32pm there was a large crowd ready and waiting, and nice to see several children in the crowd. The band got an enthusiastic welcome as they started the show.

RN – Black patterned suit, black t-shirt

RZ – Black pinstripe suit, white shirt, dark tie, black hat

TP – Black suit, white shirt

BC – Black t-shirt, blue jeans

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, My Obsession, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, She’s Tight, Tonight Its You, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, The Flame, 70’ Song, Surrender // Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Goodnight Now

After "Big Eyes" Rick announced "We're Cheap Trick" and playfully followed up to say "… this is our first tour of the US and we're glad to be in California! We're from Illinois". After "If You Want My Love" Rick pointed out Shoandra and her family right at front, calling them "Cheap Trick's answer to "The Osbourne's"! I think that tag will stay with them for awhile! Again the band were very involved and animated during "Best Friend", and at the end Rick handed his guitar to a fan at the front. He did that throughout this run of shows, which must have frustrated his tech no end! After "I Want You to Want Me" Rick thanked his daughter for his being here. He was supposed to be at her schools "Father/Daughter Dance" back in Rockford today <crowd boos!> Tom chimed in that it was OK that Rick wasn't there as he'd set her up with R Kelly! Rick replied that he chose to be with us in Long Beach tonight <crowd cheers!> He then added that his daughter was here in LA and he'd taken her shopping this afternoon by way of consolation… "next year I'm going to the Father/Daughter Dance!" With the family story complete, the band went into "She's Tight". After "Tonight Its You" Rick looked out into the crowd for actress Jeri Ryan, and also pointed out several people such as artist Shannon and also local fan Danny Saint, "I hear you're sober this evening… oh, my mistake!" After "Lot to Lose" Rick pointed out the Swedish fans Nilsson and Peterssen, turning to his left and said "They're married… whaddya think (about us) Tom? Hmmm… only if it’s a New Jersey thing (referencing the NJ Governor who recently admitted being gay)", and then in typical Nielsen comedic fashion, he added "Missouri is the Show Me State, New Jersey is the Blow Me State!" He then asked Robin if he wanted to say anything, and he stepped up to the mic to say (in a reversal of the normal patter) that Rick was his favourite guitar player. A very cool moment. Before coming back on for the encore Rick walked incognito (at least to start with) into the crowd with a towel over his head, to personally greet one of the bands longest serving fans who'd come down from San Francisco. Again Rick played a minute's solo before the band started "Scent of a Woman" and for "Goodnight Now" he played a new black and white halved Explorer with orange edging.

The show ended at 10.50pm, and some of the fans milled around outside the front of the venue before dispersing (to either party or go to bed!) I was very tired so my choice was the latter!

Sat 25 Sept – Cheap Trick in Long Beach (night #2)

Another sunny and hot day with the temperature nudging 85 degrees. I should probably stop mentioning the weather as pretty much every day was sunny and warm!

All was quiet at the venue when I got there mid afternoon, other than some fans already out in line as usual. Doors opened at 7pm again, and this Saturday night show was a sellout. As the evening went on it did feel a little more crowded than last night. The opening band came on at 8.45pm, and had a Cheap Trick connection. Kay Hanley had previously been the lead singer in "Letters to Cleo", who had covered "I Want You to Want Me" for the movie "Ten Things I Hate About You". Although I was busy helping out with t-shirts etc, I thought Kay and her band played a nice 45 minute set from what I was able to watch/hear. Highlight for me was a terrific version of Nick Lowe's "Cruel to be Kind", though out of deference to the headliners Kay didn't play "IWYTWM". However, she was standing near me during CT's show and I did see her singing along to that which was pretty cool! Cheap Trick came on at 10.02pm to another enthusiastic welcome.

RN – Black suit, white t-shirt

RZ – Brown striped suit, white pinstripe shirt, dark tie, black hat

TP – Plum jacket, black shirt, black pants

BC – Black t-shirt, blue jeans

On Top of the World, He’s a Whore, I Can’t Take It, Taxman Mr Thief, Pop Drone, I Want You to Want Me, Day Tripper, Tonight Its You, Fan Club, California Man, The Flame, 70’s Song, Surrender // Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Auf Wiedersehen

As the show developed, I wasn't surprised to realise that the band were playing what has become known as "the London setlist" (this set, with one or two differences, had been first played at the London show a couple of months ago, and more recently at Chicago and Milwaukee). It's a particular pleasure for me to hear some of my personal favourites such as "Taxman" and "Fan Club". Now if we could only get "Invaders of the Heart" added… :-)

After "I Can't Take It" Rick greeted the crowd and reminded them that "We are the one, the only, accept no substitutes… Cheap Trick!" After "Taxman" Rick greeted various areas of the venue and then a fan got a gift bag onto stage for him which included a small framed picture of himself wearing a special t-shirt. After checking the contents and a few words, he humourously commented "Don't worry, we're not going to shorten the show for this bullshit!" Another gift bag made the stage which included a Cheap Chick shirt, which prompted Rick to jokingly announce "Cheap Chick, they're a fantastic band… we've slept with most of them and they're excellent!" Gift giving over with, the band continued with an excellent version of "Pop Drone", and "I Want You to Want Me" was the crowd pleaser it always is. After "Fan Club" Rick gave greetings to various people in the crowd, including fans from Sweden, Australia, Chicago and San Francisco. After "California Man" Robin changed to wearing a black cowboy hat. After "The Flame" Bun's drumkit needed some adjustment so Rick filled in the pause with a few more hello's, including to a young girl in the balcony wearing a Cheap Trick shirt. He added with a smile "We like big girls in little Cheap Trick shirts too!" When coming back on for the encore, Rick had changed into a black Beatles t-shirt whilst Robin was now shirtless under his jacket which I don't think went unnoticed by some of his women fans in the crowd! After "Dream Police" Rick again went into his little guitar solo piece, this time including a couple of bars of "Stiff Competition" and also a little of the "California Man" intro.

The excellent show ended at 11.27pm and before leaving the stage Bun made a surprise walk to Robin's mic to thank the crowd and announce that Cheap Trick was 30 years old tonight! Unbeknown to anyone in the crowd and kept quiet by the band during the show, Cheap Trick had played their first show 30 years ago today… Happy Birthday to our favourite band!

After helping pack away the remaining merchandise, I joined the die hard fans who were still chatting in the venue. As we were finally leaving, the front fans were told something by security on the door and rushed back to the upstairs bar/lounge area -they'd been told something was happening up there! Well, like sheep we all followed the flock… to find nothing going on! We milled about for awhile and a few bought drinks, and it was later decided that this had been a way to try to get people to go buy more drinks before leaving. Hmmm, a decidedly cheap trick. When we finally left the venue, some of the fans went back to their hotel to continue the party, but again I opted out as it had been another tiring evening. I was glad to get to bed a little after 2am, and happy to look forward to a few non-show days.

Sun 26 Sept – Tues 28 Sept

Three "off" days, at least for the fans. The band were working on new material in LA but we had free time. Unfortunately a planned Cheap Chick & Petty Theft show couldn’t be arranged (a real shame as I’d heard both bands rock), so Victoria and I had decided to head to Las Vegas rather than stay in LA where I think we’d both exhausted the sights on previous trips. However, before setting off inland, we drove back to Long Beach to join a few friends (Steve, Lisa, Lars, Rosie, Laurie) for a Mexican lunch. Victoria and I later drove across the desert to Las Vegas though the journey was somewhat spoiled for me by about 20 miles of ugly road construction between Victorville and Barstow. However, small consolation was from discovering "Coldstone Ices" at Victorville, where the staff concoct wonderful combinations of ice creams and sweet add-ins! Yum! Vegas was much as it ever is – crowded, hot, glitzy and quite unlike anywhere else on Earth! And I saw Elvis! Well, a "young" looking Elvis anyway…

Weds 29 Sept – Cheap Trick in Agoura Hills (night #1)

A bright start as we left Las Vegas mid morning but decidedly cooler (mid 70's) and overcast in the LA area when we got there. We took time to stop off at Ontario Music in greater LA, where Ludwig West Coast rep and long time CT friend Todd Trent works. The busy instrument store boasts some wonderful signed drumheads from various Ludwig artists that Todd has worked with, including CT and Ringo Starr.

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We then drove on to our booked hotel in the Simi Valley, the Ramada at Canoga Park. Without going into details, not recommended if you're looking for somewhere to stay in that area.

We got to the Canyon Club at Agoura Hills at 4.45pm to find many people already in line. As well as many friends that I'd already seen at earlier shows, it was very cool to see good friends Junko, Hiromi and Mutsumi who'd arrived from Japan earlier in the day. It was also a nice surprise to see Lisa J from Texas, who had previously thought she couldn't make these shows due to family reasons. Great to see them and many other friends! Another surprise awaited me as Tony H, who together with wife Robyn had kindly provided me with a bed on my first three summer trips to LA, produced an amazing t-shirt for me! Again, thanks to Tony and Robyn for their wonderful generosity and creativity! It was so good I had to wear it immediately!

The inside of the Canyon Club (which was set in a small strip mall beside highway 101) was as I recalled from my first visit here in 2001. A large dinner club with patchwork carpeting and dinner tables surrounding the dancefloor in front of the smallish stage. Doors opened at 6pm for dinner ticket holders, and the young opening band "On the Speakers" played a 30 minute set from 7.45pm.

Cheap Trick came on at 8.45pm to an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd, which included a number of celebrities.

RN – Black suit, black t-shirt

RZ – Black pinstripe suit, white pinstripe shirt, dark tie, lack hat

TP – Black suit, green shirt

BC – Black t-shirt, black jeans

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, My Obsession, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Tonight Its You, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, The Flame, 70’ Song, Surrender // Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Goodnight Now

As well as the usual announcement that "we are the one, the only…" after "Big Eyes", Rick also announced that "We're recording tonight so you'd better sing damn good!" After "If You Want My Love" Rick said hello to fan and Olympic gold medal winning skater Scott Hamilton, and also wished Junko from Japan a happy birthday. He also gave birthday greetings to a couple of other people and announced that "In Germany, on your birthday you buy everyone a drink!" After "My Obsession" Rick noted that "Since we're in the LA area there are several actors and musicians here" and added with black humour "… good to see you're not working this evening!" Again the band really let rip during "Best Friend". After "I Want You to Want Me" Rick announced that "We're 4 great guys with 3 great chords… and a million fans around the world. Thank you very much". Someone then passed forward a full set of the large cardboard Dream Police standups from 1979, prompting Rick to look at them, hold them up and remark " Amazing, we haven't changed one bit… except I don't have the Scotch tape across my neck anymore! Hello Ebay!" To round off this brief pause, he then introduced the next song as being one they hadn't done in a couple of years "… but we've had a request". I believe the song ("I Know What I Want") was a special addition for Junko's birthday. Indeed I haven't heard it in a long time and it was nice to hear Tom sing again. After "Tonight Its You" Rick handed his guitar to someone at the front, then got a young boy onto the stage. Max had his face painted checkerboard, but sadly failed the audition when asked by Rick "What's your favourite group?"… "All of them" wasn't the required answer! Rick jokingly asked Max if he wanted to get off the stage in one piece before helping him back to his Dad at stage front. After "Lot to Lose" Rick again got Max back on stage, this time he came up with the correct answer!

Rick returned to the stage for the encore and bowed to all four corners of the stage. Tom now had a red flower attached to his lapel and Robin was again shirtless under his jacket. Rick's short guitar solo after "Dream Police" included the opening bars of "California Man" and during "Goodnight Now" he held up a checkerboard V-neck with "Cheap Chick" on the edging that a woman had brought along to the show (though I gather she wasn't one of the Cheap Chick band members)..

The set ended at 10.05pm and as usual it was busy on merchandise for the next half hour or so. About a dozen fans later headed back along 101 to the Valley and had a late supper at "Jerrys Deli" at Ventura/Topanga Canyon. The large menu was amazing and had as many words as "War and Peace" I think! It was so hard to make a choice that I just ended up with decaf coffee! It was good to finally get to bed around 1am.

Thurs 30 Sept – Cheap Trick in Agoura Hills (night #2)

A cool and cloudy start to the day, and it was only this morning that I was able to change my flight home. I was due to leave Los Angeles for Europe tomorrow, but since last weekend I'd been trying KLM to see if I could defer my return by two days so that I could go to the show in Tacoma on Saturday. For a fee I could, but I had to keep the same routing i.e. Los Angeles to Amsterdam to Manchester, and it wasn't until today that space became available on Sundays flight out of LAX to Amsterdam. Anyway, I changed that and booked a connecting flight down from Seattle to LAX for Sunday morning.

We got out to the Canyon Club by 4pm, I helped inside and doors again opened a little before 6pm. First on tonight were "Trash Daddy", an LA band which included the aforementioned Todd Trent on drums. They went on at 7.43pm and though I was again busy off and on during their set, I enjoyed what I was able to see/hear. They finished at 8.25pm, and Cheap Trick took to the stage somewhat later than expected at 9.15pm.

RN – Black suit, black t-shirt

RZ – White suit, white shirt, black tie, black hat,

TP – Black pants, purple/blue cowboy shirt with rhinestones

BC – Black t-shirt, blue jeans

On Top of the World, Big Eyes, I Can’t Take It, Taxman Mr Thief, Pop Drone, I Want You to Want Me, Day Tripper, Tonight Its You, Fan Club, California Man, The Flame, 70’s Song, Surrender // Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Auf Wiedersehen

Like at Long Beach, the second nights set here was pretty much the London setlist. "On Top of the World" is a great opener, and interesting to hear Rick play a slightly different, brief guitar break before the big ending. Which reminds me of something else I've forgotten to mention but which I noticed at several of the shows. I recall perhaps a couple of years ago Bun saying that he occasionally slightly changes some of the fills etc during songs just to shake things up a bit, and I noticed at these shows that some of the fills during various songs were indeed a little different. No biggie, but just a trivial observation. After "Big Eyes" Rick apologised for the late start, "… but after all, it's Cheap Trick!" After "Taxman" Rick had the first of a number of guitar techs, with skater Scott Hamilton taking on his guitar. Rick announced "This is my new guitar tech, I'm not sure I can afford him but he's good looking!" Tom added something prompting Rick to say that if this was the Scott Hamilton he'd come on and do a flip! Rick then showed the crowd what he said was the "LA version" of the flip! Uh… I think that one works everywhere Rick! He then mentioned the "From Tokyo to You" DVD on sale, "our version of "Behind the Music!" After "Pop Drone" there was a brief pause whilst guitars were switched and iced water drunk, and during this and later pauses, Bun did a few quiet little drum routines to either fill in time or just keep himself warmed up. This was the only show of this run that I noticed him doing this. During the first verse of "I Want You to Want Me" Rick took a brief walk sidestage and through the surprised crowd to the merchandise set up off to his right, and at the end of the song he gave his guitar to Chris of Cheap Trick's "Osbourne family"! After "Tonight Its You" Rick pointed out a number of fans, including those from Japan, the "Osbournes", from Texas, Danny Saint ("are you sober yet?"), also celebs such as Eric Singer and Jeri Ryan. He established that young Max from last night was now in bed, and his guitar change was made by Todd Trent. After a wonderful version of "Fan Club", Rick's next tech was Frankie Banali, Quiet Riot's drummer who watched most of the show from sidestage. After "California Man" Rick again apologised for their being late but said they'd been delayed by a traffic accident which had closed 101 for a while. He then introduced Robin and during the brief, following pause, Robin and Bun together played a brief bar of "Play by the Rules". During "Surrender" Rick tossed out the signed album flat as usual… which got stuck in the lighting rig! For all I know it might still be there! Robin came on for the encore shirtless again under his jacket, and after "Dream Police" Rick was handed a guitar by a friend of his that I didn't recognise. And after "Scent of a Woman" Rick's final guitar change was to take Uncle Dick from me! That was a nice buzz, and I'm glad I didn't drop one of his trademark guitars!

The show ended at 10.40pm and after the usual post-show stuff, another group of us again returned to Jerry's Deli where we kept our wonderful (and patient) waitress busy until closing time at 1am. She deserved her tip. It was good to sink into bed around 1.45am, less good to get woken up by a prank call at 4.09am… the hotel getting even for our complaints perhaps?

Fri 1 Oct – Driving north

I would have been flying home this afternoon out of LAX, but instead I joined Victoria in the long drive north. Before leaving north LA we took some warm Krispy Kreme donuts round to Tony H where we also saw the latest (sleepy) addition to his and Robyns family! The morning cloud was breaking up as we left LA at 11.15am, and I later realised that in the past 8-9 days we hadn't sampled that other culinary legend of the LA area, Tommy's burgers (where everything comes with chilli!) Oh well, definitely next time! It was a long days drive before we reached Chico in northern California (home of guitar makers "Chandler") for a welcome meal at the busy Sierra Nevada Brewery. And as an extremely light drinker, many readers may be surprised to hear that I tried the 20 beer sampler! I got a 2 oz glass of each beer brewed there… but I'm sorry to report that I didn't finish them all! And this was my first beer since landing in California!

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Sat 2 Oct – Cheap Trick in Tacoma WA

Another long travelling day and with a show tonight too. We left Red Bluff in northern California before 9am in sunny, mid-70's sunshine, and drove through some wonderful, mountainous scenery in the Shasta Forest and past Lake Shasta. The lower part of Oregon too was beautiful, with the non-evergreen trees changing colour to autumnal golds and reds as we zig-zagged through mountains. We also had hazy views of Mts Hood and St Helens in the Portland area, with the latter having had a minor "burp" a day or so ago but no smoke to be seen today. We had a phone call around 5pm and discovered that the show at Tacoma was starting at 7.30pm and not 8.30pm as shown on Victoria's ticket. Yikes! We were still 50 miles from the venue at this point but we were making good time until some 4 miles from the our exit off I-5 when we ran into a slow moving traffic jam. Damn! We finally managed to get off at the next exit and get ourselves to the Emerald Queen (I-5) Casino using backstreets. We got there just after 6.20pm and the parking lot and nearby streets were already busy with Saturday evening gambling traffic.

The venue was a large room/bingo hall with a high black roof and rows of flat seating. The stage was wide and despite the early show start the place was nearly full by show time. Before the show it was a nice surprise to see several friends such as Lori, Charli, Dawn and Kathy from Texas, most of whom didn't know I'd be here! Well, until a couple of days ago neither did I! Cheap Trick were due to start at 7.30pm but the Casino entertainment manager first came on to give a long introduction and list all the coming attractions, and it was 7.45pm before Cheap Trick finally took to the stage. They were given a very noisy and enthusiastic welcome from the crowd, and this was certainly one of the loudest casino audiences that I can remember experiencing. And nice that they were on their feet from the start!

RN – Black suit, black t-shirt

RZ – Black pinstripe suit, white pinstripe shirt, dark tie, black hat

TP – Black suit, white shirt

BC – Black t-shirt, blue jeans

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, My Obsession, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, Day Tripper, Tonight Its You, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, The Flame, 70’ Song, Surrender // Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Goodnight Now

Maybe it was because it was the last night of this mini tour or perhaps it was the sheer energy of the crowd, but the band seemed very energised during this show. After "Big Eyes" Rick reminded the crowd that "We are the original, accept no substitutes Cheap Trick!", and after "If You Want My Love" he mentioned that "This is a casino so I know you're all winners!" After "My Obsession" Rick gave his guitar to a fan in front of Tom, and then he mentioned local Mariners hero Ichiro breaking the baseball hitting record today. "I liked him before he was famous" Rick remarked, "I think he was a Cheap Trick fan!" "Best Friend" really rocked as usual and "I Want You to Want Me" had the crowd cheering as always. After "I Want You to Want Me" Rick introduced the other band members, noting that Robin has a new 12 string guitar. He then introduced "Day Tripper" as "one we've never done in the State of Washington". It certainly went down well with the crowd. After "Tonight Its You" Rick pointed out long time fan Charli who was sitting in the front row, and after "Voices" he pointed out a guy about halfway back and asked him "If you're Tom's brother-in-law how come they gave you such a shitty seat?" For "Lot to Lose" Rick played the new black/white Explorer and at the end he gave it to a fan in the front row. He then mentioned that they've recently been recording some new material whilst in LA. When back on stage for the encore, Rick's guitar was taken on for him by a vertically challenged lady, and he took his time straightening up his suit and cap before taking the guitar from her. The guitar was almost bigger than she was, but she did a fine job getting it to him. During Rick's solo after "Dream Police" he played some bars of both "California Man" and "Stop This Game".

The very nice show ended at 9.01pm and I think the band members all headed straight off to the airport to catch late flights home. I helped pack up the t-shirts, and then a small group of us went to a nearby club to have a drink and a bite to eat. Victoria and I then drove to the Best Western Executel a little north at Federal Way, and this time it was actually nice to use the room! For those of you with a longish memory, you may recall that we got the car locked in a downtown parking garage in Seattle after the Showbox show back in May, and consequently didn't get to use our room here that night.

Sun 3 Oct/Mon 4 Oct – Flying home

This may have been the end of a long 11 day road trip but it was only the start of a long, long day travelling home. I was up before 6.30am to shower and repack, and I was checked onto my Alaska Airlines flight to LA by 8.30am. It was very misty on the ground at Seatac but after a late take off at 10.15am it didn’t take long to burst through the low cloud cover into sunshine. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the plane to see Mt Rainier though I got a glimpse of the majestic snow capped peak as we passed close by through the window across the aisle. But luckily I was on the right side as we passed close by both Mt St Helens (all quiet after its little burp a couple of days earlier) and Mt Hood, and the cloud had been localised to just Seattle and Tacoma so my mountain views were clear. I like seeing mountains!

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I had over 3 hours to kill at LAX but eventually got onto my KLM flight to Amsterdam mid afternoon. The 10 hour flight was crowded, long and very tedious. I chose to skip the movie as I wanted to try to sleep, though I do want to watch Tom Hanks in "The Terminal" sometime soon. I might just as well have watched the movie as I got no sleep. Amsterdam was overcast and cool as we landed mid morning, and I had to kill another 3 hours before my flight to Manchester. That actually took off 45 minutes late so after arriving at Manchester and finally getting my suitcase I'd long missed the Leeds-bound train I'd hoped for. I caught the next one, which then got held up behind a slow moving train ahead. And finally, the Travel Gods continued to give me a hard time by making me wait over 30 minutes for a bus that didn't come! I had to take another bus which dropped me off 1/2 mile from my house instead. I was definitely tired and weary as I got into my house at around 6.30pm, some 28 hours after getting up in Seattle. But as always, the exhaustion was more than worthwhile after another memorable trip full of excellent shows and wonderful people!


As ever, thanks are due to a number of people. First and foremost, to Victoria for her usual wonderful generosity throughout the trip (and sorry I didn’t finish all the Starbucks pastry leftovers, darn it!) Its always a pleasure to travel with you :-) Thanks to the band, Carla and crew as ever for putting up with my being around, Jon for putting up with my sales technique and to Dean for letting me briefly "tech" at two of the shows… for a few seconds at each anyway! And last but by no means least, many thanks to so many old and new friends that I saw at the shows. There are too many people to list (though I named some of them during the review) and I’m reluctant to try as I’m sure to inadvertently miss someone off which I’d hate to do! But to everyone I met, for whatever length of time and from wherever (including Sweden, Scotland, Japan, and from all corners of the USA) it was my pleasure to see you all :-)

Kim Gisborne - Leeds, England, 9 October 2004


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