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Cheap Trick - 2010 Sgt Pepper shows at the Paris Casino Theatre, Las Vegas


Since the first triumphant shows at the Hollywood Bowl in 2007 for the 40th Anniversary of the album release, the Sgt Pepper shows have become an annual fixture in Cheap Trick’s calendar. 2008 saw another show at the Hollywood Bowl as well as in New York and Florida. The show was taken to Las Vegas in 2009 by Bill Graham, with a short residency at The Hilton, and 2010 sees the show move onto the Las Vegas Strip at the Paris Casino Theatre for a run of shows there.

 Due to very busy work commitments, I’d originally (and reluctantly) planned to miss the 2010 shows. However, having contributed visual material to a promotional video collage for the Pepper shows made me think again, and I decided to try and make a show or two. No time was good work-wise, but I realistically had two possible weekends that I could negotiate to get away for. So in mid-June I started looking at flights. The end of July was a no-go, way too expensive. But after much searching, I stumbled across a lone, just-about-affordable fare with Delta via Atlanta at the end of June (less than 2 weeks away) and so I jumped at that. I sold my soul at work to get two days off and that was that. 

Thursday 24 June

Air travel is getting worse. It’s the way of the world. Today turned out to be much longer than I’d hoped, and I ended up thankful I hadn’t flown in on the day of the first of the two shows I was going to (Friday, Saturday).

Let’s try to keep this brief. I got to Manchester Airport at about 7.40am (left home early to beat the morning rush hour on the motorways) for my 10.30am Delta flight to Atlanta. Upon checking in I was told that the flight was delayed due to the late inbound plane. Luckily I had the Air France lounge to kill the extra time in. The flight ended up taking off over two hours late, which meant that I already knew I’d miss my connection in Atlanta.  8hrs 20mins later the plane landed at Atlanta, where it was a hot and sunny mid-afternoon. I ended up in transit there for over 4 hours, as the Las Vegas flight that Delta had rebooked me on ended up leaving well over an hour late.  The flight took 3.5 hours, and I finally got into my hotel well away from the Las Vegas Strip after 10pm, nearly 5 hrs later than scheduled. My day since leaving home had lasted over 25 hours, and I just can’t sleep on planes, so my body was ready for much needed sleep.

Friday 25 June - Cheap Trick, Sgt Pepper

I awoke early to a sunny and hot Las Vegas morning, with temperatures forecast for over 100F. Viva Las Vegas… but don’t forget the sunscreen! I’ve been to Vegas many times, so there was nothing I really wanted to go see on the Strip. I was happy to be in a quiet, non-casino hotel with not a slot machine or crowd in sight. I had a quiet day, watching live World Cup football on TV (thanks ESPN2 and ABC!) also doing a little local shopping, and enjoying the small swimming pool.

The Sgt Pepper shows were taking place at the Paris Casino Hotel on the strip, with doors opening at 7pm for the 8pm show. The theatre was nice, with burgundy being the colour scheme. The walls were burgundy with wall mounted chandeliers, and the banked seats were burgundy too. Hard to guess how many seats there were, I guess 1,000 or thereabouts. The stage was large, with a large, circular Sgt Pepper drum logo suspended  in front of the curtain. In the cup holder of every seat was curled a “programme for the show, giving the setlist. The lights went down at 8.05pm, and a short video montage was played. This was a montage of concert and interview footage, and featuring clips of various songs. This was NOT the same promotional montage that can be seen on the front page of


The show started with the orchestra, backing singers, drummer Daxx Nielsen, keyboardist Magic Christian and guitarist Bill Lloyd performing “I Am the Walrus”. The stage setup was similar to last year at The Hilton, with the orchestra and backing singers to the rear and above the main stage floor. The stage again featured three panels, though none revolved like at the Hilton. Cheap Trick came on at 8.14pm to a warm welcome from the large but not sold-out crowd.

RN – Black suit, black/colour Beatles shirt, black sparkly bow tie
RZ – White pants, white shoes, silver shirt, white jacket with sparkly red trimmings, white cap
TP – Purple jacket, black pants, salmon shirt, tie
DN – Green jacket, black shirt, white tie
MC – Black suit and shirt, red tie

Introduction - I Am The Walrus - Sgt Pepper Symphony feat Daxx, Magic, Bill Lloyd, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, With a Little Help From My Friends, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Getting Better, Fixing a Hole, She’s Leaving Home, Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite, Within You Without You - Ensemble feat Tom, When I’m 64, Lovely Rita, Good Morning! Good Morning!, Sgt Pepper reprise, A Day in the Life, The Flame - Sgt Pepper Symphony, Dream Police, I Want You to Want Me, Smile, Surrender, Worlds Greatest Lover, Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End, All You Need is Love

Cheap Trick came on and, in a change from previous year’s shows, went straight into the Sgt Pepper album. What can I say? They played it flawlessly, very ably backed by the orchestra, keyboards and extra guitar. “Sgt Pepper” is a lively start, running straight into “With a Little Help from my Friends”, and followed up by “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.  In the course of just those first three songs you can hear how comfortable Robin is with this material, and how well he can sing the range of songs. The rest of the band looked and sounded equally comfortable. Rick was all over the stage, playing, goofing at times and just having fun. As ever, Tom pretty much stayed on his side of the stage and was musically “in the zone”, whilst Daxx did a fine job on the drums. Quite a busy few months for him, taking over the drumming duties in Cheap Trick and thus needing to learn much of the “Latest” CD, as well as having to learn “Sgt Pepper” for these shows.

After “Lucy…”, Rick welcomed the audience “Yeah! Just in case you’re not sure, we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes Cheap Trick! Welcome to Vegas, enjoy the show”. After “Fixing a Hole”, Robin stayed on stage as the rest of the band left the stage, and he announced “Ladies & Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Sgt Pepper Orchestra, conducted by Edwin Outwater”. Robin performed what is probably his highlight of the Pepper set, “She’s Leaving Home”. His vocal is magnificently clear and poignant, particularly with orchestral strings backing him. Rick summed it up nicely when he returned to the stage, saying “Damned good isn’t he?”


“Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite” was a fun ditty, and when the lights went down at the end, the 6 piece Indian Ensemble were quickly wheeled onto the stage, they were already seated on a small, low wheeled platform. “Within You Without You” had previously been vocalled by Rob Laufer, but this year Tom took over vocal duties and he did a wonderful job. Cheap Trick fans are used to hearing Tom sing with an edge to his voice, think “I Know What I Want” or “Waiting for the Man”. However, his tone was softer for this George Harrison song, and as always, seeing and hearing the Indian ensemble perform was very cool. This song was another highlight for me. I’ve always liked it, but Tom singing added another dimension.

Afterwards Rick returned to the stage and introduced Tom, Robin, Daxx, Magic, Bill Lloyd, thanked promoter Bill Edwards and pointed out legendary sound engineer Geoff Emerick. Robin had now changed into black shirt and black pants.

Next up was the jaunty “When I’m 64”, followed by “Lovely Rita” and “Good Morning Good Morning”. No time for any more Rick witticisms, the show continued with “Sgt Pepper reprise” and the immense “A Day in the Life”. There’s no argument that “Sgt Pepper” is a hugely respected and  regarded, legendary album, and all of the musicians on stage did it full justice. For the fourth summer in a row, Cheap Trick and the orchestra had proved John wrong by proving it *can* be performed live.


What followed was a real bonus for those Cheap Trick fans in the crowd. The band left the stage whilst the orchestra played a 3 minute instrumental version of “The Flame”, and I could hear one woman behind me singing along. The band returned to the stage, with Robin back in white but now sporting a sparkly white jacket, whilst Rick now wore a black, white and red striped jacket. The band played a mini-set of 5 Cheap Trick songs, starting with “Dream Police”. And much as the crowd had enjoyed the “Sgt Pepper” portion of the set, many really came to life when “Dream Police” started. This was particularly nice to hear, with orchestral backing as on the original LP. Two Vegas showgirls, complete with large feathers came out and flanked Rick as he did his mid-song spiel, and there were the customary pick showers to left, right and centre.

The band continued with “I Want You to Want Me”, another crowd pleaser. It wasn’t until late in the song that I noticed Robin singing the “bummer” style version of his chorus lines, and cool to also hear the clarinet which Rick pointed out near the end.  After that, Rick thanked the crowd, adding “… in case you like some, all or none of what you’ve heard, we’ve got a CD and DVD of the show…” at which point I heard a couple of groans from behind me. The groans quickly turned to hearty applause when Rick continued “… all the money goes to cancer research.” He added “The next tune is from our new CD… DVD… 8-track – the #1 selling 8-track in the world for the 8th straight month in a row! It breaks in all the wrong spots and everything! The next song is from “The Latest” and features my favourite lead singer in the whole wide world, Mr Robin Zander.”

That song was “Smile”, and it was perfect given the orchestra to add to it, though it did slow the set down after two rocking songs. Next up was “Surrender”, which is of course perfect Cheap Trick, strings or no strings. No album flat thrown out though, probably for fear of litigation if some unsuspecting punter got hit. The orchestra was a perfect accompaniment for the next song. At the start a piano was wheeled onto stage left (as the audience looks at it), and Rick joked “I get to sit down!” He continued by mentioning famed producer and long-time friend Jack Douglas in the crowd – “He’s just finished remastering the Double Fantasy album. He’s got a pocketful of money so after the show he’s buying cocktails for everybody!” Those unfamiliar with Rick’s wit cheered at the thought of free drinks! Don’t believe everything you hear… Rick continued “A few years ago we worked with George Martin and Geoff Emerick, here’s a song from the “All Shook Up” album.  Rick sang the first verse of “Worlds Greatest Lover”, with Robin taking over from the second verse. This is one of those songs that should only be heard with backing strings, and I closed my eyes to listen to Rick’s guitar solo backed by lush strings… wonderful.



Back to the Beatles for the finale of the show, with the Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End medley. The last song was “All You Need is Love”, which finally got the whole audience up on their feet. As the Indian ensemble walked on to join in at the end, air cannons at either side of front stage blew thousands of pink confetti paper hearts huh up into the air, to create a thick, pink paper-storm as they came down for the last 2 minutes of the song. That’s always been a nice way to end this show in Vegas, whether at the Hilton or here at the Paris. I *still* feel sorry for the people who have to sweep this all up after every show!

The show ended around 9.40pm, and a very nice show it had been. The members of Cheap Trick look very comfortable playing Sgt Pepper, but I did like the mini-set of Cheap Trick songs. I guess this version of the show is my second favourite, after the original two nights of “Sgt Pepper at 40” at the Hollywood Bowl in 2007.

Jack Douglas & Rick  / Who gets to clean this mess up?  /  Magic Christian

Many of the audience went out to gamble or else walk on the Strip in late evening 90F temperatures. Being boring, I drove back to my hotel, cranked up the AC and went to bed!

 Saturday 26 June - Cheap Trick, Sgt Pepper

Saturday in Las Vegas was much like Friday. Overwhelmingly hot and over 100 degrees, clear blue skies, and no doubt noisy, crowded casino’s and Strip sidewalks. I had another quiet day, watching live World Cup football (sorry, USA went out to Ghana 1-2) and trying to stay in the shade by the pool.

I won’t give a blow-by-blow account of this evenings show, as the setlist was the same as last night. Cool to see TV food expert Rachael Ray and some of her friends in the audience for tonight’s show. Lights went down at 8.07pm, with Rick, Robin and Tom coming on at 8.15pm.


RN – Black suit, black/black & white Beatles shirt, Beatles bow tie
RZ – White pants, white shoes, silver shirt, white jacket with sparkly red trimmings, white cap, shades
TP – Purple jacket, black pants, salmon shirt, tie
DN – Green jacket, black shirt, white tie
MC – Black suit and shirt, red tie

Introduction - I Am The Walrus - Sgt Pepper Symphony feat Daxx, Magic, Bill Lloyd, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, With a Little Help From My Friends, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Getting Better, Fixing a Hole, She’s Leaving Home, Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite, Within You Without You - Ensemble feat Tom, When I’m 64, Lovely Rita, Good Morning! Good Morning!, Sgt Pepper reprise, A Day in the Life, The Flame - Sgt Pepper Symphony, Dream Police, I Want You to Want Me, Smile, Surrender, Worlds Greatest Lover, Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End, All You Need is Love


Confetti, & can you spot Rachael Ray?  / Advertising flyer & show programme

The show ended at 9.38pm, with the theatre carpet covered in pink paper hearts! It had been another very nice show, though I think Robin had been particularly impressive this evening. I had a quick drink in a nearby bar with friends Laurie, Mike, Aussie Steve & Lisa before taking my leave of them. I had an early morning flight to get ready for, so the prospect of no more than 3-4 hours of sleep. Ouch.

Sunday 27 June

As it was I slept no more than 3 hours. Despite being very tired. I think that *knowing* you have to be awake dead early means you just don’t get to sleep deeply because sub-consciously your body is listening out for the alarm. I was out of the hotel by 4.10am, it was still dark outside but probably still over 80F. I dropped off the rental car and was at McCarran Airport by 4.45am. My flight was due to leave at 7.10am, but I allowed plenty of time as I know check-in and security at this airport can be very busy, even at this hour. And so it proved, with the Delta area being a zoo with a long, snaking line for economy check-in for several early morning flights. Luckily my frequent flyer status allowed me to use the priority check-in desks so that saved me at least 45 minutes I’d guess. Security wasn’t too bad, there were more staff than when I was here last autumn, so that didn’t take as long as I expected. I was at the D gates just after 5am.

As had become the norm on this trip, my flight left late. Unlike the Boeing 767 which got me here on Thursday evening, this 757 didn’t have personal, satellite TV. So I couldn’t watch any of the live World Cup match going on as I flew, a “minor” match involving England and Germany. I had to wait until my mid-afternoon arrival in Atlanta three and a half hours later to discover that Germany had emphatically beaten England’s overpaid, celebrity stars by 4-1. In addition, Argentina was already leading Mexico by the time I got off the plane. Anyway, soon after getting into the terminal I phoned a good friend in Atlanta, as we’d arranged to try to meet up during my layover. He gave me the address of a nearby Irish bar, so I caught a cab and was soon there. Cool to see John M, a good CT & football buddy since Trickfest days waiting outside. It was nice to finally meet his wife too, and a very cool surprise to see another old CT friend, Rusty sitting at the bar table indoors!  That was a really nice couple of hours, catching up with friends I’d not seen in about 6 years , talking Trick, talking football, watching the remainder of the Argentina game, watching re-runs of the Germany v England goals… It was particularly nice that they’d come from the other side of Atlanta to this near-airport bar just to see me, thanks guys, I really appreciated that :-)

They got me back to the airport in good time to get through security and to my gate. My plane took off only 20 minutes late, and after the usual “square” airline economy meal, I shut my eyes and tried to sleep or doze for the remainder of the 7.5 hr flight. I failed, I don’t sleep on planes.

Monday 28 June

Not much to finish up with. I got back to Manchester at 8.25am, surprisingly it was dry and bright. Who says it rains non-stop during British summers? I got the shuttle to my car, drove back to Leeds, straight to work and into a 5 hour meeting. Luckily I didn’t doze off, though I wanted to! I was happy to go home after that to unpack and sleep, after what had been, despite various flight delays, another memorable CT weekend.


 As always, it was great to see friends at the shows. Particular thanks though to John, Lynn and Bert in Atlanta for going out of their way to catch up with me in Atlanta – just let me know next time Yngwie’s in town, OK?!! And particular thanks also to Cheap Trick, Carla, Larry, Patrick, Todd and crew. The pleasure is always 100% mine.

 Kim Gisborne – Leeds, England   4 July 2010

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