CHEAP TRICK IN FLORIDA -
Two months after playing New Years Eve at Orlando and a couple of subsequent dates, Cheap Trick were back in Florida to play two weekend shows. Having been unable to go to those end of year shows, I decided to make up by getting over for these two dates. An added bonus was that the weather in Florida should be far better than the cold and damp mid-February weather in north England!
Wednesday 11 Feb
Instead of my usual transatlantic flights via Amsterdam (necessitating an extremely early start), I was flying from Manchester via Washington DC, and my departure time of 12.25pm was far more comfortable. So I found myself stopping in at the office at 7am for an hour and a half of work before carrying my bag over to Leeds railway station to get a train to Manchester Airport. Check-in was quiet and I was quickly through security with plenty of time to spare. The BMI flight to Dulles was long and uneventful, and the 25 minutes to clear US Immigration was far less of a delay than I'd expected.
The early evening United flight down to Miami was overbooked, and because I was being met there by Trickfan Victoria (whod driven all the way across country from California!), I didnt answer the call for volunteers to bump off and catch a later flight to Ft Lauderdale. It was already a long day without adding extra complications. I arrived at Miami Airport at 8.30pm and was met by Victoria whod arrived only 10 minutes earlier after her marathon 6 day drive. Talk about great timing! We managed to find our way from Miami Intl, which is still my least favourite airport for driving to/from, since the roads (and signs) immediately around the airport are so confusing. We headed north on I-95, and stopped for a mid-evening meal at the deathly quiet Hard Rock Café at Ft Lauderdale. Along the way we again saw that Florida phenomenon of abandoned cars by the roadside, a sight repeated often over the next few days too! It was good to finally sink into bed after 11pm at the decidedly downmarket (but cheap-ish!) Super 8 motel wed booked near West Palm Beach.
Thursday 12 Feb Cheap Trick at Sanford FL
A leisurely 10am departure and a comfortable 3 hour drive up to Sanford (north of Orlando), punctuated by a brief Dunkin' Donuts/coffee/gas stop en route. The weather was dry, sunny and pleasantly warm (mid 70s), and since we arrived at the hotel early I decided to have a quick swim before getting to the show venue. The Best Western Marina was right on the lake, and future visitors there should note that the outdoor pool is ICY cold! Brrrrrrr! Mid afternoon saw a few dark clouds pass over, but happily no real sign of any rain that might put the evenings show at risk.
We walked to the nearby Fort Mellon Park, eventually finding the entrance. The outdoor show was to be on a large, covered stage facing a grassy area that would apparently hold up to 3,000. The crowd area was flanked to the sides and rear by the usual food, drink and other stalls.
The crowd were allowed in at 6pm and the front stage area was filled up fairly quickly as usual, though a lot of folks had brought comfortable garden chairs and settled down further back until the crowd got too large. Whilst helping out on the merchandise booth, it was good to briefly say hello to a number of friends who stopped by, including Kai and his girlfriend from Germany and Laurie from Chicago. The show was billed as "RocknRacing" to tie in with the big motor racing week going on at nearby Daytona Beach. Opening this evening's show was Foghat, who took to the stage at 8am to play for just over an hour. Interesting to see both Rick and Tom arrive shortly before 9pm and go straight to side stage to see the last 5-10 minutes of Foghats set.
Cheap Trick came on at 9.45pm to a good reception from the crowd of around 1500-2000.
RN Cream jacket, black pants, Uncle Dick t-shirt
RZ Brown/black striped suit, white shirt, black hat
TP Black suit, white shirt with blue pinstripes
BC Black t-shirt, black jeans
Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, Pop Drone, My Obsession, I Want You To Want Me, Shes Tight, I Know What I Want, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, The Flame, 70s Song, Surrender / Scent Of A Woman, Dream Police, Goodnight Now
The show was fun and the crowd seemed to be enjoying it. Rick kept teasing Dean (his new tech) during the first half of the show, and trashed his mic stand during "Never Had a Lot to Lose". After that song he spotted a woman and her baby near the front and mentioned Linda from Humpin' Hannah's in 77. Maybe this was Linda's daughter? I didn't really hear everything Rick said. He also then mentioned that the band would be in Europe in July, playing in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and added that Cheap Trick were "huge in Liechtenstein!" Considering that tiny European Principality is only 61 square miles in size and has only 30,000 people, even Foghat could be huge there I think! Rick played a Gibson for "Surrender" instead of the usual 5-neck, which was a mild surprise. However, minimal kit would have been brought for just two shows so the 5-neck was obviously left at home. The album flat was sent high into the air and back into the security space at the front of the stage. I gather there was the usual wild clamour to try to reach it, with a security guard eventually giving it to a fan in front. When the band came back on for the encore, Rick asked if the crowd wanted to hear more, which brought a very loud "Yeah!" in reply! If the place had had a roof, the "Yeah!" would have taken it off!
The show ended at 11pm, which was the local curfew time. After the post-show rush for t-shirts, the merchandise was packed up, and then Victoria, Kai and his girlfriend and I all walked back in the balmy night air to our nearby hotel. It was around midnight or so, and whilst enquiring about breakfast at the night desk window, we saw around 30-40 ducks in the hotel swimming pool and surrounding area. Certainly an unusual sight!
Friday 13 Feb
Good job there wasnt a show today, with it being Friday the 13th! Instead, it was a free day which would allow a "leisurely" drive back to Miami. I went to take an early swim before breakfast - the ducks had gone, but the evidence that they'd been around still remained including in the pool. Eeeuuwww! I decided to skip the swim.
We left Sanford mid morning, passing picturesque backstreets with colonial style houses and large trees covered with hanging Spanish Moss. The nearby freeway took us south through Orlando, and the day was overcast and cooler though by no means uncomfortable. We headed south on 27 down the middle of southern Florida, and mid afternoon we stopped at Gatorama proving that large roadside advertising does work! Despite my dislike of reptiles, it was interesting to see alligators and crocodiles of various sizes fairly close up. Scary yet fascinating but I passed up the chance to hold a one foot long baby croc! Thanks but no thanks! By now it was brighter and warmer, and we headed down 29 towards the Everglades. Along the way we stopped briefly a few times by the side of the road, to take a closer look at the nearby waterways and swamp foliage. We saw some waterbirds (black Anhingas with wings spread to catch the sunshine, Egrets and Herons) and were lucky to also see a handful of small alligators sunning themselves in the late afternoon sunshine! Cool to actually see some in the wild! We headed on south and briefly stopped to take a look at Everglades City the "City" part of the name being somewhat misleading. But it was pleasant and right on the southern Gulf coast, and I did notice many of the houses were built on legs, presumably for added protection against tropical storm flooding. It was almost dark as we started east on 41 towards Miami, so it was a shame to drive through the Everglades National Park and not be able to see anything. But it soon started raining, getting heavier and heavier, and making driving both slow and difficult. The storm kept up until we neared Miami, though we were soon driving on dry, city roads towards our hotel around 4 miles from the airport. We eventually got a room I'd booked a couple of months ago, though not without some argument. If you ever go to Miami, I won't recommend the Days Inn at Hialeah though it was my third stay there.
Saturday 14 Feb Cheap Trick at Hallandale FL
The morning was sunny and warm, though very humid. We had breakfast at nearby Denny's before getting back to the hotel and trying to change the room, but no dice. Anyway, we soon headed out mid-morning for the racetrack at Hallandale, where the afternoon's show was to take place. We got there around 11.50am, ten minutes before doors opened. The concert venue was in the grounds behind the main grandstand, with a good sized covered stage, reserved seating in front and then large areas for general admission further back and to the sides. With the sun shining and a nice breeze, it was very pleasant, and many of the early arrivals set themselves up in their garden chairs in prime GA spots. A lot of the people coming into the racecourse early on were somewhat older and obviously here for the horses, and several came over to the merchandise table to ask what "Cheap Trick" was and whether we were giving away anything for free! One old chap even asked if we had a CD by Duke Ellington we had to sadly send him away empty handed! I didn't have the heart to recommend "Music for Hangovers" to him! :-)
Nice to see Kai and his girlfriend again, also Lynne and one or two other friends. And a particular pleasure to again run into good Florida CT friend, Kenny he's the dude wearing the checkerboard shirt in the "Silver" CD centrefold.
The band went on stage at almost 2.40pm, to a warm reception from the large crowd. The reserved seating area was full, and there were large numbers in the GA areas too, as well as watching from the windows and balconies on the rear of the grandstand!
RN Cream jacket, black pants, Uncle Dick t-shirt
RZ Brown/black striped suit, white shirt
TP Olive patterned shirt, black pants
BC White Wilco t-shirt, black jeans
Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, Pop Drone, My Obsession, I Want You To Want Me, Shes Tight, I Know What I Want, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, The Flame, 70s Song, Surrender / Dream Police, Goodnight Now
After "If You Want My Love", Rick mentioned the upcoming tour with Aerosmith. After "Pop Drone" someone in the front of the crowd shouted out "California Man" and quick as a flash Rick lightly played the familiar opening bars of that song before leading the band into "My Obsession". After "I Want You to Want Me" Rick pointed out a sign which said "Will you be my Valentine Robin". He teased why someone didnt want him to be their Valentine! But the young girl holding the sign was invited down to stage front and given a pick to warm applause. After "Shes Tight", Rick pointed out Dick Kulpa, editor of "Cracked" magazine who was watching from the guests area. After "Never Had a Lot to Lose" Rick gave his yellow guitar to a fan at the front, which caused some consternation amongst the stage tech's until Colin raced down to retrieve it! And freshly armed with his next guitar Rick softly played a few bars of "Play By the Rules" before the band started into "The Flame". The set list had "Scent of a Woman" shown as the first song of the encore, but with the show running a bit late and some band members having flights home to catch, it was cut from the set. The show ended at 3.50pm.
Although some of the band literally left the stage and into a car, Florida resident Robin had more time and delighted a large crowd whod stayed on by signing autographs for quite a while.
One very odd thing for me was just as we finished boxing up the merchandise, I noticed some of the people leaving the racecourse (mostly people whod been here for CT of course) and one guy looked exactly like Keith Richards! Absolutely true! I cant imagine it really was Keef was it??
Victoria and I left the racetrack around 4.30pm and the roads around the racetrack were clogged. But we finally managed to drive to downtown Miami in busy traffic and find a parking space at Bayside. The lively outdoor complex of shops and restaurants around a marina was very busy and after a wander around we had to wait for an hour and a half to get a table at the Bubba Gumps restaurant. However, it wasnt unpleasant to kill time in the warm evening, and when we finally got to eat it was worthwhile good fried shrimp! I was hungry!
Sunday 15 Feb
I awoke early to find it grey and raining outside (though still warm and very humid), so it was a good job the Hallandale show was yesterday and not today. We had breakfast nearby before I packed my bags and Victoria kindly dropped me at nearby Miami Airport for my trip home. But I had it easy - I had only two flights and about 15 hours travelling back to Leeds. She was looking at several more days driving right across country again back to California!
The two hour flight to Washington Dulles was uneventful, though in that distance the ground temperature dropped from 75 degrees in Miami to a very frozen 30 degrees in Virginia. I had nearly 3 hours to kill at Dulles before my flight back to Manchester took off, and some of that was taken up by my being chosen for a full security check at the gate. Great. Everything unpacked, every electrical item switched on all fun stuff. But very necessary and no complaints about it.
The 6 hour flight back to Manchester was busy and I got no sleep. That wasnt helped by the fact that BMI didnt dim the cabin lights in the economy cabin (though I could see that they did up front in Business and New Economy). Grrrrr! So even with thick eyeshades I was still aware of the light. We had dinner about an hour after take off, and just 3 hours later they served a very early breakfast. The seats felt narrower than I remembered too, so it was hard to settle comfortably and get any rest.
Manchester Airport was dark and chilly at 5.30 in the morning, but I was glad of the fresh (and not humid!) air as I stood at the railway station waiting to get a train back to Leeds. I got back to my office before 8am, and managed to last until nearly noon before I had to go home and sleep! And so ended another interesting and fun trip, with two nice shows.
First and foremost, huge thanks to Victoria for allowing me to tag along on her marathon road trip for a few days! I much appreciated the kind offer of a seat in her temporary Trickmobile whilst in Florida, and Im glad she did the driving in Miami and not me! Thanks also to the band, Carla and the crew as always. And it was a pleasure, as ever, to meet a number of friends at the shows!
Kim Gisborne (Leeds, England) - 18 Feb 2004
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