Cheap Trick in England - July 1998
After 10 years away, Cheap Trick finally returned to Europe, to play four dates on a short, self funded tour. Flying into Europe fresh from a charity show with The Smashing Pumpkins in Chicago, the tour started with an outdoor show in a wet Ghent, Belgium on Sat 11 July. The band spent a free day in Amsterdam the following day (World Cup Final day), before playing to an enthusiastic Dutch crowd at the city's Melweg club on the Monday night, 13 July. They travelled to London during the next day........
London, England - 14 July
I got to The Astoria just before noon, after driving the 200 miles down from Leeds that morning. I was sort of in "Metro" queuing mood (where the queue rapidly built up several hours before each show), but it transpired that I probably needn't have worried. Although people came and went during the afternoon, the line remained very short until maybe 45 mins before the doors opened at 7pm. But it was nice to talk to different people during the long afternoon wait
Mike Hayes, author of the acclaimed biography "Reputation is a Fragile Thing" arrived soon after me. Like at The Metro shows in Chicago, it was a real buzz to meet people as they arrived, they stayed a while to chat, then went off to eat or check into a hotel. Both whilst waiting, and inside, I met quite a number of the people who get my newsletter, which was really nice. Many people were seeing the band for the first time ever (remember, this was the first British gig in 10 years, and that last one was just a single date in London). I also met a number of new friends, so it was very useful being around so long.
It was very cool that people came from far and wide, from Milwaukee and Chicago, as well as from France, Holland, Sweden, Scotland and Wales, and all parts of England. Most people seemed to have covered many miles for this, and there seemed great anticipation.
The band flew in from Amsterdam late morning, so didn't do a soundcheck. We had two opening bands, The Hormones, and Rachel Stamp, a 4 piece "glam rock" band. They had a few of their fans in, but not too many; the Astoria was full of people in to see Rockford's finest.
The Astoria took a while to fill, but it had a good crowd in by the time the band came on stage. It got warmer and warmer, and the crowd was impatient as we awaited Cheap Trick. They finally took the stage at 9.45pm, and performed a tremendous 80 minute set. They really seemed "up" for this British show, though I thought the sound didn't seem right, with Robins vocals not loud enough. But maybe I wasn't in the best position to hear, at front just left of centre. The set was the same or very similar to Amsterdam the night before I gather. The set was :
I Want You to Want Me, Come On Come On, She's Tight, Anytime, Ain't That a Shame, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, If You Want My Love (no extra bridge ...), Voices, a thunderous Need Your Love, Southern Girls, Surrender --- Ghost Town, Dream Police, Gonna Raise Hell - awesome.
Of course the band's equipment was limited, with Rick down to only about 5-6 guitars. The Gonna Raise Hell one came out 4-5 times. But we did have the 5 neck for Surrender.
It was a great show, and I know many of the first timers were blown away by the show.The band really seemed to enjoy it too. For the fashion conscious, Rick wore his black checked suit, with a Roy Wood "Woody" t-shirt (no, there were no special guests tonight...), Robin wore the purple velvet suit, and bottle green shirt, changing the shirt for a black American Custom Cycles t-shirt for the encore. Bun wore his regular flowery shirt, and white cap. Tom had a black shirt and trousers and long red jacket. Rick had his customary "tag" on the end of of his beard. On it was written
It was a long drive back to Leeds that night, but I didn't notice the miles too much, being on such a "high" after the show. Off to bed at 5am, to catch some sleep before the Nottingham show next day.
Nottingham, England - 15 July
Well, if the previous nights London show rocked, then Nottingham DOUBLE rocked !!
It was an awesome show !
I got some 6 hours sleep after driving back from the London show, drove to Nottingham (only 65 miles this time), arriving at 2pm. Like London, no queue formed until maybe 7pm, 30 mins before doors opened. However, a few people did come and go during the afternoon. Several took in the Sports Bar next door, off and on during the afternoon, and Mike Hayes, his son Daniel and I spent some time in there.
The band arrived from London around 6pm, signing some autographs before heading into the club venue, Rock City. Doors didn't open until around 7.50. CT did not do a soundcheck, but the support bands soundcheck over-ran. Support again was from Rachel Stamp.
Our boys took to the stage at 9.20, and proceeded to perform a 90 minute set for a very enthusiastic audience. The special guest was Roy Wood, who confirmed the day before that he'd be at Nottingham. The set list was:
IWYTWM, Come On Come On, He's a Whore, Carnival Game, Stop This Game, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, If You Want My Love (no extra bridge), Voices, California Man (with Roy Wood on lead vocals), Need Your Love, Surrender ---- Shelter, Dream Police, Day Tripper (with Roy), Goodnight Now (with Roy) ---- Auf Wiedersehen (with Roy)
An incredible set. The set list was obviously changed during the show to reflect the mood and enthusiasm of the crowd. It looks like Roy was originally only going to play on Cal Man, as the original set list ended with Shelter, Dream, Aufie and Goodnight. I guess the band decided during those few minutes off stage after Surrender to change things.
Rick was concerned about the sound during the show, and he had bad feedback during Voices. He felt it sounded "flat". Robin also expressed that opinion after the show. I couldn't tell, though like at London, I didn't think Robins vocal was up enough, though my perception was obviously influenced by being centre front again, not the best place accoustically. I did say to Robin that the sound was excellent at stage front at The Metro shows in Chicago, to which he said that the Metro had a new sound system, the same as The Rolling Stones use on tour. However, the Nottingham crowd seemed to have no concerns over the sound, as they were enthusiastic throughout.
The crowd were obviously excited about the show, and again the crowd included many first timers, as had London. Everyone went wild when Roy came on and did California Man, taking lead vocals. He played Robins cream Fender guitar for this and the other songs later. Surrender was the usual wild affair, and it was so nice of Rick to give me his 5-neck at the end, much to the concern of his guitar tech ! But he got it safely a few seconds later. It wouldn't have fitted in my car anyway !! The band encored with Shelter and Dream Police, then called Roy back on stage, for Day Tripper, another high energy affair. Roy stayed on for Goodnight Now. The band left the stage again, but the enthusiastic crowd bayed for more. After a couple of minutes, they returned to play Auf
Wiedersehen (with Roy), originally dropped off the set in favour of Day Tripper. They ended after that, despite crowd calls for more. I have to go back to 1983 to recall the last time that I know the band played two or more encores.
I think this show surpassed London, particularly because things just seemed to go up another notch (if that was possible) after Roy first joined them. Both the band and Roy seemed delighted to be in each others company, and I'm not sure who worshipped who the most on stage ! But they all seemed to feed on each others delight of being there on stage together. It was a wonderful experience to see Cheap Trick and one of their inspirations on stage together, certainly a special event that will stay in my memory for a long time to come.
Fashion report. Rick wore black t-shirt (with a single small skull and crossbones on the chest), black trousers and purple jacket. I believe his beard tag had "ROY WOOD" on it this night. Robin wore a plain black t-shirt, black trousers and the leopardskin jacket. Tom had a black/white polka dot shirt, and black jacket and trousers. The jacket soon came off. Bun wore a predominently white shirt with black trousers. Roy wore all black, jacket, shirt, trousers and boots.
It was a wonderful show to end the short European jaunt with, and again I met a number of new people, as well as old friends. It was a real pleasure !
The band headed back to London around midnight, to snatch a few hours sleep before flying back to the States the next day. Despite the rushed nature of the tour, they all seemed to have enjoyed playing back in Europe after so long. They hoped that these few dates would help re-establish their profile, and that they'd be able to return for a longer and more widespread European tour in 1999. Hopefully this will happen, though is dependent on business factors such as their next recording deal etc.
Kim Gisborne 17 July 1998.
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