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I’m a California Man …..for 7 days – California shows June 99

Yet another trip to see Cheap Trick, and a challenging one at that. I managed to get a great fly/drive deal with British Airways into LA, and a week off from work. The challenge was 5 shows in 6 days, and some 1500 miles solo driving, including in busy LA and San Francisco. I *knew* I was going to be tired by the end of this one ! But despite my apprehension at all the, I hoped this was going to be fun.

My flights from Manchester to London, then London to LA were uneventful. The Heathrow to LAX was 10 ½ hours, all in daylight, and a real long haul. Ouch ! I was ready to scream by the time landed in a warm but overcast LA, having had the seat in front of me in my face almost all the way.

I got my luggage and hire car and arrived at friends some 40 miles north of LA Airport at 8.28pm, just in time for Rockline. (Rockline is a nationally syndicated live radio phone-in show). Cheap Trick were in a radio studio in San Francisco taking questions. I managed to get on too, and asked about tribute nbands and cover versions of CT songs. As well as answering questions, the band also played 4 or 5 songs accoustically during the show, which sounded very cool. These included Surrender, Oh Caroline and It All Comes Back to You. It was the early hours before I got to bed, and the CT odyssey started early next morning…..

Thursday 10 June – LA to Roseville; Big Shots, Roseville

I got away from north LA just before 9am, heading the 400 miles to Roseville, 20 miles north east of Sacramento. A real long haul. The first hour out of LA was interesting, climbing and driving through spectacular mountains and lakes on I-5N. Then it dropped and flattened out, and apart from miles of orange groves and distant mountains, the landscape was pretty barren.

Got to Roseville mid afternoon after a 6 hour drive, checked into my hotel, took a shower, and took a wander down to the nearby MacDonalds to get my main meal of the day. And who should I meet walking back towards the hotel but Bun E ! He kindly gave me directions to the venue. The venue was weird, a Pool bar right in the middle of a small, concrete strip mall. I had to double check to see I was in the right place. It was fairly small, with the stage area to the right of the door, a bar area to the left, and a Pool room further left. Very intimate. Before the show, it was nice to meet a few local fans.

Openers were Dovetail Joint from Chicago. They were very loud (darn ! Where did I put my earplugs ?), and didn’t do much for me. CT took to the (small) stage at 10.15, and Bun E had a new, yellow drumkit, the bass drumhead saying "Cheap

Music for Hangovers"

RN – dark grey striped suit, new Music For Hangovers t-shirt

BEC – dark pants, grey flowered shirt

TP – long maroon velvet jacket, black short sleeve turtle neck shirt, black pants

RZ – gold flowered suit, white/gold t-shirt/vest, shades.

IWYTWM, Come On, Hot Love, Anytime, Shame, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, If You Want My Love, Hard to Tell, Voices, Heaven Tonight (in place of Need Your Love), Southern, Surrender, Ghost, Dream, Gonna Raise Hell.

The crowd were enthusiastic, and the band were in both fine mood and form. Rick used a small red Hamer for Anytime, instead of his regular "Anytime" guitar. After Wrong, RN said it was "So good to see you" to the crowd, and played a few bars of that for 2 small girls in the front row next to me ! Robin had the lyrics of Hard pasted on stage, which I think were there all 5 shows. Heaven Tonight had an extended Bun E ending. The drum king was on fine form….. The intro to Southern Girls became "Its…time… for Californian… girls", again for the two girls in front. It was cool, all the band played up to the 10 and 7 yr olds (?) during the show. If there are youngsters up front, they always seem to do that, which is so nice. Surrender saw a Doctor flat thrown out. Gonna Raise Hell was incredible, really well done, and included an awesome 6-7 minute Bun E drum workout. Boy, that was something out of a masterclass. The crowd was extremely boisterous, and I had at least one woman clamouring all over my back during the second half of the show, trying to reach Robin ! Her hands were all over my hair and shoulders, and if I wasn’t concentrating so much on the show, I might have enjoyed her pressing herself all over my back !

About 25 minutes after the show, the band got away in a minivan, but not before being mobbed off the tour bus they’d first gotten into. A real scrum. They headed back into San Francisco, where RN had a radio show interview lined up for 10 am ! Ouch !

Friday 11 June – Roseville to San Francisco ; Warfield Theatre, S F

I left Roseville at 8am for the 100 mile drive into San Francisco. It was bright and sunny until maybe 25 miles from the coast, when it just clouded over. Typical bay weather I think ! Hit the traffic big time around Oakland and onto the Oakland Bridge. By that time I decided not to drive around to see the sights, but to park near the venue and work from there. I managed to find a parking lot about a block from the Warfield which was good. However, as I walked to get to Market Street, I passed liquor stores and various rough looking types, I got a little worried if the car would still be there after midnight. After finding the Warfield, I walked up past City Hall, and up to Alamo Square. Caught the famous view of the old Victorian houses, framed in the background by the financial district skyline. Then I headed my way, uphill and downhill, towards Lombard Street. Ouch, that was hard work, even for a seasoned walker like me. I finally reached it, climbing the long hill on the other side first. Then walked down the famous zig-zag part, and up the other side. Headed down a little way to get a view of the Bay, Fishermans Wharf, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate. Sadly the mist obscured most of the Golden Gate Bridge L I decided not to bother with Fishermans Wharf, but to head back to Chinatown. On the way I got a can of Sprite which I gratefully chugged down in one go. Phew ! Walked a lot of Nob Hill, then down on Bush Street. Saw the Chinatown arch, walked a bit in Chinatown, but it was very touristy, so headed back down to Market to get a Wendys and start my vigil at the theatre (2pm). I needed the rest after 4 hours nonstop hill walking !

The band arrived for soundcheck around 3.40. The inside of the theatre was very impressive, ornate and gilded. And lots of pictures and posters covered the lobby walls, many from the sister theatre, the Phillmore. Inside, there was a floor area in front of the stage, another slightly higher standing area behind, then another couple of raised levels with bar seating. Above was a seated balcony. The soundcheck was Oh Caroline but minus vocal, then Never Had a Lot to Lose, but backing vocals were turned down/off. Rick and Bun E left, but Robin then sang most of the Flame, with only Tom’s bass for accompaniment. Hearing Robin like that was awesome, and his voice sounded incredible.

Back outside in line, I chatted to a number of friends, old and new. The streetlife was, um, interesting, and this was definitely the seedy end of Market St. The homeless man who offered a tour of the Ghetto got no takers, and the guy who parked in a no parking zone for about four minutes, and came out to find his car towed away was interesting entertainment. Take heed, don’t park illegally in SF !

Dovetail Joint opened again, but I had earplugs this time, and I found them more bearable this time, But they still didn’t do much for me. CT took to the stage at 9.15.

RN – Black suit, Wisconsin shows shirt

RZ – Black suit, white/gold t-shirt/vest

TP – Green suit, orange shirt

BC – Black pants, grey shirt.

Whilst Bun started to get ready to begin the show, some jerk pointed a laser pointer right at him, and in his eyes. He pointed the person out up in the balcony, and I gather afterwards the culprit was thrown out straight away. Unfortunately a taste of things to come though.

IWYTWM, Come On, Hot Love, Anytime, Shame, IKWIW, Wrong, IYWML, Hard, Voices, Need, Southern, Surrender, Ghost, Dream.

I had the 10 year old (from Roseville) next to me, in front of Rick. Rick used the regular "Be bop a lula" guitar for Anytime. After Hard, Rick teased the crowd with a baseball cap, one half had an "A" on it, the other "SF". He played up the rivalry of Oakland and San Francisco – SF won out ! After Voices, RN passed his clear yellow guitar, via me, to the 10 year old. No mean feat given the 5-6 ft gap from the stage to the crowd. It had gotten pretty rowdy at floor level, with some 6ft 6, 300 lb oaf pushing his way through and occasionally crushing people at the front. Yeah, it was just drunken enthusiasm, but one feared for the safety of the young girl on her fathers shoulders down in front of Robin. She *needed* to be on his shoulders, as the stage barrier was pretty high. The kid next to me could barely see over it. Surrender saw a KISS flat thrown out. Two of the guys from local band MIRV (who opened one of the SF album shows last year I believe were sidestage on Toms side, and they were just going nuts during Surrender, totally into it ! That was really cool to see. Before Ghost Town, Rick did something they "don’t normally do", and asked for fans Jay and Jen to come on stage, as Jay had something to ask Jen. He proposed marriage, and it was a wonderful scene, with handshakes and hugs all round ! Jen looked absolutely stunned with shock, but not enough to stop her enjoying the hug and kiss from Z-Man !

Towards the end of Dream Police (during the climactic part), something got thrown on stage. From where I was in front, it looked like a large cup of beer, though others later said it was a bottle. Whatever, it cartwheeled on stage, spilling beer all over. Robin came over to Ricks side of stage, knelt down and just stared in the direction it had come from. Tom came over and looked too. I later talked to Security who said they’d got the guy and ejected him. I guess Robin and Tom were watching that. Ever professional, the band finished the song as normal, and if anyone missed seeing the bottle/cup hit the stage, they’d not have even noticed anything different. But the band left the stage on Tom’s side immediately after that song ended and were gone without a word. And who could blame them ? I later found out from Ricks tech that TV Violence and Goodnight were the songs lost as a resultL

I was staying with friends some 40 miles south of San Francisco and after getting back, we went to a Dennys to eat. It was about 12.20 am, and it was packed ! Gee, this is the best nightlife south of SF after midnight on a Friday night ?

Saturday 12 June – San Francisco to Ventura; Ventura Theatre, Ventura

After a breakfast of waffles, bacon and sausage, I hit the road just after 10 am for Ventura. Headed down on I-101S before cutting across on 152 to join I-5. Passed through Gilroy, "Garlic Capital of the World". Hmmm, I sniffed the air on my way through. Yep, they were right ! 126W into Ventura was real pretty, with ripe orange groves along the road, and beautiful mountains on either side. Wonderful scenery, and Ventura was small and pretty too. I arrived at 3.10, to be first in line. Again, good to meet up with fans from the LA area. The theatre was pretty inside, with ornate gilded décor. There was a balcony and several levels of the stepped main floor. The two lowest levels nearest the stage were reserved for those who’d bought a "dinner" ticket. The rear couple of levels had tables too, with the bar at the rear. It was weird to be sitting sideways on to the stage. We got a table right in front of Rick, as the centre 3 tables were all reserved and got our buffet before the show started. Well, it was OK, but in food terms, not worth the cost. But worth it of course to be front stage.

Support was a local 17 year old guitar virtuoso, Corby Yates. Introduced as being the "new" Jimi Hendrix, he was a very competent guitarist, playing fast riffs etc. I noticed RN watched a little from side stage. The seating arrangements allowed me to pop to the upstairs backstage towards the end of Corby’s set, to wish Cheap Trick good luck. They all seemed in good spirits, and none the worse for the bottle/cup incident in SF the previous night.

Shortly before CT took the stage, some jerk shone another laser pointer on stage. One of CTs crew took the mic and asked for the offender to stop, otherwise they’d be thrown out. The strong words worked, and we didn’t see that red light again. The band took to the stage at 9.30 to a warm welcome.

RN – black suit, black t-shirt (RN on scooter from the In Color sleeve)

TP- Green suit, brown shirt

RZ – Silver shirt, black suit

BC – black pants, flowered blue suit.

IWYTWM, Come On, Hot Love, Anytime, Shame, IKWIW, Wrong All Along, IYWML, Hard, Voices, Heaven, Southern, Surrender, Ghost, Dream, Hell.

After Wrong All Along, Rick announced it was Buns birthday, and presented him with an envelope. Bun opened one corner, peeked in, laughed, and said thanks ! I’ve no idea what the gift was ! The LA fans gave him the giant birthday card from the crowd, which Bun seemed very appreciative of, and Rick led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to Bun E. During this break, either RN or Bun flicked a pick at a voluptuous woman on Toms side of the stage, who wore a low cut top. The distance must have been 20-30 feet, and it just sailed right down her front. Amazing shot, a real 2 pointer ! During IYWML, Ricks mic fell off, and dangled down. He kept on playing and craned down to sing his backing vocals, before his tech came on the set it right. During Surrender, a Doctor flat sailed out, and by this time, even the folks in the front centre 3 tables were up on their feet and enjoying the show ! Rick came on before Ghost, and bantered for a couple of minutes with various people in the front before continuing the show. One weird thing though, Tom didn’t have a spotlight on his side of the stage for the whole show, so most of the time he was in the shade. Strange.

It was a terrific show, and despite the weird dining table arrangement at the front, both the crowd and band seemed to enjoy the show a lot. As usual, Rick got away straight from the stage, and Robin and Tom followed 5-10 mins later. Bun E stayed a while to relax backstage, and left the theatre some 30 mins after the show.

Sunday 13 June – No show ! (LA to San Diego)

It was nice to actually have a day off, after all the travelling and late nights ! The band probably felt that too ! My day was mostly spent relaxing with friends in LA, who comprise ¾ of the fan tribute band "Speck" (In case you didn’t know, the Ballad of TV Violence was originally titled The Ballad of Richard Speck….). It was fun to watch them get together and "jam" for awhile, playing CT songs. Late afternoon I headed down the 120 miles to San Diego, a 3 hr journey thanks to bumper to bumper traffic on I-405S all the way down from north LA to Irvine. I got to downtown San Diego around 7pm, and its always a pleasure to be back in a beautiful city that I have a lot of feelings for.

Monday 14 June – San Diego ; Cane’s Bar & Grill

Showtime again ! Well, I had the morning and early afternoon free, so I took in some shopping. I managed to buy a 3 ft Star Wars light wand for a kid I know….. well, a 35 year old co-worker actually ! But the lady in FAO Schwartz in Horton Plaza said they’d sold a lot of them, and it was only adults who wanted them ! Or "big kids" !! Also visited the San Diego Padres baseball shop at the impressive Qualcomm Stadium. Puts most of our sports stadia here in Britain to shame !

I got down to Mission Beach around 2.15 pm, and easily found Cane’s Bar and Grill on the beachfront, right behind the Belmont Park rollercoaster. A small venue, it was strangely open to the public, as the crew were setting up. One entrance was no more than 10 yards from the beach. The music "hall" was tiny - tiny stage, the walls were blue and painted with ocean designs, had 3 glitter balls, and metal stairs and a walkway at the rear (like, only 30 or 40 feet from the stage), leading up to the outside balcony eating area. Nice to meet a number of old and new friends again, some local (LA and San Diego area), but also from San Francisco, Oregon, and a couple from London who flew in for the Ventura thru LA shows ! More long distance travelling fans, and a reminder of the loyalty generated by this band we all love so much. After a few of us had waited outside a while, we discovered that if you eat in the next door Cane’s Grill, you got let in 15 minutes before the crowd at the main door. So in we went around 5.30, a whole bunch of us took up the two tables nearest the door into the venue and had food ! Bun E was eating out in the seafront terrace. We got in OK, and there were 4 monitors in front of the stage. To give a scale of how small the place was, only myself and a friend (Susan) could fit in between the two monitors in front of Rick

First up were Dovetail Joint, and maybe it was familiarity, but I was starting to get to enjoy their set. Both Susan and I had to duck or lean back several times, to avoid getting hit by the head of the bass guitar !

CT took to the stage just after 10.20pm, and yet again played a terrific show.

RN – dark pinstripe suit, black t-shirt

TP – glasses, black trousers, black turtle neck (Danelectro) t-shirt

RZ – silver shirt, black suit, shades

BC – black pants, blue flowered shirt

The band played a very lively show, and the crowd were very lively and enthusiastic too. Maybe it was the fact that it was such an intimate venue, with no-one being more than 40 feet or so from the stage. And the stage was so tiny that the band had little room to move around in.

IWYTWM, C’mon, Hot Love, Anytime, Shame, IKWIW, Wrong, IYWML, Hard, Voices, Need, Southern, Surrender, Ghost, Dream, TV, Goodnight.

There was so much stuff going on that night, maybe because the band were so close to the audience. And the stage was probably not more than 3 ft off the ground. Literally as the show started, Rick walked up his steps, and the ceiling was maybe no more than 18 inches above his head. It was like the old bar days in the Midwest in the mid 70’s, as he punched a hole in one ceiling tile ! Though back then he did it with the head of a guitar I believe ! He also held up a fans CHPTRK1 licence plate for the first time. Rick played the regular guitar for Anytime, and "almost" gave it to Susan at the end. But then snatched it away. After Shame, Rick held up the licence plate again, saying it was better than being #2 ! He introduced Tom with the customary spiel as being " the inventor of the 12 string bass guitar". Unfortunately, Tom was still wearing a regular bass, and quickly had to change to a 12 string before coming to sing ! During Wrong, Rick finished busting the ceiling tile ! During Need, I made the mistake of mimicking something that Rick sometimes does, namely collecting sweat from the brow and flicking it. Well, I *didn’t* flick sweat at Rick, merely pretended to. Bad move. At a range of about 2 ft, Rick doesn’t miss. He looked right at me, passed his fingers over his brow, and flicked a stream of sweat into my face. Literally. During this song he also strummed his guitar with the licence plate again. During Surrender, it was another Doctor flat, which couldn’t have gone far (prior to the show, we thought it might sail right out of a rear door or window !

It was a fantastic show, high energy, a very enthusiastic crowd, and a very intimate setting. Certainly the smallest I’ve ever seen them in. Wonderful, but only one show to go.

Tuesday 15 June – San Diego to LA; The Palace, Los Angeles

Had to be up early and get checked out of my San Diego hotel before 8am as I was parked in a restricted parking zone. No tow away for me thanks ! So I had breakfast in Dennys on Pacific Highway, where I’d had brunch with the LA Trick fans the morning after the San Diego Streetscene show last Sept. Made good time up to LA and parked opposite the Pantages Theatre at Hollywood/Vine. Took a wander round, before settling myself in the shade of the outer foyer of the Palace Theatre around 2.15 pm. That was very cool, it was directly opposite the wonderful Capitol Records Building. The outside architecture of the theatre was impressive, with gargoyles and cherubs on the walls.

The band arrived at the side entrance around 4.15. I went just to say hello, and Tom invited me in. The Palace was nice inside, with ornate ceilings and walls done in tasteful grey and purple. There was a large floor area, two small side balconies, and a large rear balcony. Also a blue neon sign "The Palace" high above the stage.

The band were being filmed for the John Bryan Show on VH1, to be broadcast late in the year in the US. So before and after the actual soundcheck, the band members were interviewed individually. Robin warmed up before the band soundcheck, they then did ELO Kiddies and Candy. Some kids sized instruments were than put on stage (drums, keyboards), and along with John Bryan, the band played a little of Blackberry Way (The Move) to warm up, before complete versions of Candy and California Man, all using the small kit. A lot of filming was done, so I’m sure this will be worth watching when broadcast. The band also did a photoshoot too in front of the stage.

I headed out and rejoined the line, which was now pretty long. Again good to meet a number of fans, including one who’d flown in from Houston, Texas just for this one show. Getting in was a mess, as many CT fans were "guests" of Trick International for the show, but the theatre weren’t organised to get us in as fast as ticket holders, even though many of us had been very early.

The show was opened at 9 by Dovetail Joint, who I was starting to like, after seeing them 3 times already. Though I never got to buy their CD. Cheap Trick came on stage at 10.15. There was a new checkerboard Stetson hat on RNs amps, as well as the grapes and satanic Tweety.

RN – Black suit, black t-shirt (In Color Rick)

TP – White jacket, light pants, light grey shirt

RZ – Gold patterned suit, white/gold t-shirt

BC – Black pants, blue shirt.

The show was tremendous, though it was a bit of a surprise to hear a regular set. This was the release date of MFH on general release in stores etc (as opposed to just through, and I wasn’t the only one to have expected a MFH set like at CBGBs in New York two months ago.

IWYTWM. Come On, Hot, Anytime, Shame, IKWIW, Wrong, IYWML, Hard, Voices, HT, Southern, Surrender, Ghost, Dream, TV, Goodnight.

During Heaven Tonight, Rick picked up and wore the stetson briefly. The flat thrown out during Surrender was Kiss’s Love Gun. Before Ghost Town, Rick came on holding up an airbrushed t-shirt showing a 1978 image of him, with the words "Still Raising Hell". A one off ? Very cool. It was another terrific show, the band looked and sounded excellent, and like fine wine, they *do* seem to get better as time goes on. Yes, I know I’ve said that before, but it seems true.

Good to meet one or two "old" friends after the show, including an American journo friend, Chris, who used to live in London. Our first meet up in over 2 years or so ! I gather she was reviewing the show for UK magazine "Classic Rock".

Wednesday 16 June - LA and home

A late morning start, around 9.30, after getting to bed after 2am. A friend and I headed back to Sunset Blvd, where we drove in past the Hollywood Bowl, and visited the Hollywood Rockwalk music store. Like at Manns Chinese Theatre, it has handprints in the foyer outside its main doors, but of musicians. Very cool indeed. Had a wall of fame too for deceased stars such as Lennon and Hendrix. Saw the CT "plaque", to the left, directly in front of the door to the gift shop. I discovered I have similar sized hands to Tom and Robin ! Jeez, if only I had 1/100th of their musical talent ! Ricks hand is surrounded by about 6 or 7 of the cool silver pick pins, that used to be/still are (?) available from Trickstuff. Inside the gift shop they have glass displays with guitars and other musical memoribilia from various greats, including several Kiss and Van Halen items, and BB Kings Lucille (#13 or something). And if you look carefully towards the ceiling, you’ll spot two autographed CT album covers, for CT 77, and the inner foldout of In Color. The music store itself was very cool indeed, with all sorts in instruments. I’m no musician and never been instrument shoopping, but they had EVERYTHING !! I’m told the band have shopped there in the past. Had lunch at the next door Sunset Grill.

Mid afternoon I drove my hire car for the last time, down to LAX. Had fun checking in with BA, and had to get both a Padres baseball bat and the boxed Star Wars light wand "boxed" to be checked luggage, not cabin baggage L . The flight itself was long, nearly 10 hours, the movie was Shakespeare in Love, but luckily I got a few hours of broken sleep instead. We left LA at 9pm local, and got into London at 3pm local next day. Ouch ! Got safely onto the Manchester shuttle a couple of hours later, and big surprise, all my bags/packages arrived in Manchester when I did ! Well done British Airways ! Took a train back to Leeds, cab home, getting in very tired at 8pm. Bed, and up at 6am next morning for work. After such a tiring trip, the jetlag was doubly bad and lasted a week, but worthwhile.

It was a very intensive, tiring, but wonderful trip. Everything went so well, many things far better than I could have hoped. Since several of my previous trips this 15 months have been for album shows (Chicago Metro, NYC, Aurora, Austin) in one location, it was really interesting this time to follow a number of shows in different places (a "regular" tour), appreciate the bands travelling schedule, and the interesting range of venues. As you’ve read, they ranged from large and ornate theatres at SF, LA and Ventura, to the tiny intimate bars of Roseville and San Diego. From large stages with a 6ft gaps between the band and crowd, to the 3 ft high stage with the band right "on top" of the fans. And to appreciate the tour/promo schedule eg at Roseville. To travel up from SF in the day, play the show from 10.15pm to almost midnight. To then get away well after midnight for the 2 hr drive back to SF. And to be up early to be at a radio station for a 10 o’clock interview. As always on these trips, I learned new things.

Huge thanks as always to Cheap Trick and Carla, and to the friends I stayed with in LA and San Francisco. And to all the terrific people I met, old friends and new friends. As always, they help make these trips memorable. Next stop, Trickfest 3. I look forward to meeting up with so many old and new friends there  :-)

Kim Gisborne, Leeds, England - June 1999

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