"4 Night Stand - The Metro Shows" - 30 Apr - 3 May 1998
"Just got back, been asleep too long...." - sadly not quite the case as I write this directly after getting back from Chicago, and getting NO sleep on the flights !
The buzz started in Merrillville at the end of February, when it was revealed that the band would be playing a special series of shows in Chicago in late April/early May. As well as playing the "Complete Budokan" show, which the band are taking on tour in the US from April through to September, they were going to do shows playing each of the first 3 albums on consecutive nights. This would be the first time that the band had done this, so a memorable time was assured. Tickets went on sale some 6 weeks before the event, and the shows at the 1,100 capacity theatre quickly sold out. Some 500 sets of tickets for all 4 shows sold out within hours.
I flew into O'Hare from Manchester (via London Heathrow) on Weds 29th, arriving late afternoon. I eventually managed to find the CTA metro train into Chicago centre, after riding between the O'Hare airport terminals about 5 times. After a walk out to Michigan Avenue, went to have some famous Chicago pizza. It WAS good, but although I was eating at only 9pm local, my body was at 3am London time, so sadly I don't think I appreciated it as much as I should have.
After a walk out on Thursday morning, I finally caught up with several other fans from across America who'd got in late morning/early afternoon, and ended up down at The Metro theatre mid afternoon and joined the (then) short queue. The line included many friends from Trickfest 2, including 4 of the Japanese women. The line steadily grew, and unfortunately with the exception of those under the front entrance, everyone got wet as we got some typical Chicago spring weather ie rain. Supposed to get let in at 6pm, but doors didn't open until after 7.15. There was soon a buzz around the packed theatre (all standing downstairs, with the balcony reserved for guests and video recording each night) as the opening night was almost upon us. The support act was the Smoking Popes, who were joined by Rick to do Voices at the end of their set. That really warmed the crowd up, and we were ready as the band took the stage some 50 minutes later. With the balcony packed with local celebs including Billy Corgan, Robin, resplendent in purple suit and green suit welcomed us all with "Hello There", and the band cranked out a classic Budokan set (set lists at end). The band were in fine form, and seemed really "up" for this unique set of shows. For the fashion record, Bun had on a light blue and white flowered shirt, Rick wore a black check suit with red t-shirt, and Tom had on an orange top with black trousers. The band then held an after show "reception" for those people who'd bought the 4 show package, which turned out to be somewhat chaotic due to the larger than expected numbers. It turned into an impromptu Q & A session with the band seated on stage, then a melee for autographs. The local Gingermans and Wrigleyville bars did great business afterwards with excited fans discussing the show, and speculating about the "extra" songs for the following night.
Friday dawned grey but mild and dry, and the queue started again before noon (doors opened around 6.45). Many fans went to nearby Wrigley Field (the Chicago Cubs baseball team were at home to the St Louis Cardinals all 4 days of the Metro shows), as Trick were due to do the "7th Inning stretch". For non American readers, this is the ritual of singing "Take me down to the ball park" after the 7th innings, sort of like half time in football. The band did that in the press box, and soon after wandered down the road to The Metro theatre to soundcheck. There was even more of a buzz tonight, as the show was being video recorded for the HBO channel (and live video/audio feed was available on the internet too every night). Two support bands played this night. First, The Smoking Popes again, with Rick again joining them for Voices. Then a very loud Triplefastaction played, ending with Tom guesting on vocals for "I Know What I want". Soon after, Cheap Trick delivered a fantastic show of their first album, and appeared to be both relaxed and enjoying themselves hugely. Tom paraded a new (cream ?) Metropolitan bass guitar and looked stylish in a rust coloured jacket and shirt, with striped trousers. For the record, Rick wore a blue jacket and black trousers, Robin looked immaculate as always in a green shirt, dark jacket, and green/bronze striped trousers, and Bun wore ... something else ! (sorry, I failed you here ! Though he DID wear his "Cottage Grove Police" cap each night). Additional goodies after the CT 77 set included Borderline and Hard to Tell.
The queue started mid morning on the Saturday (doors opened at 6pm), as Chicago's worst kept "secret" was known. The Smashing Pumpkins were to open for CT ! The Pumpkins arrived early to soundcheck, and the general feeling was that this would be an extraordinary night. Cheap Trick arrived mid afternoon, to have a photoshoot done with renowned photographer, Paul Natkin. He took a whole load of pictures of the band standing on top of roof of the entrance to the theatre, in front of the sign showing "Cheap Trick - Sold Out - 4/30 At Budokan, 5/1 Cheap Trick, 5/2 In Color, 5/3 Heaven Tonight. He also took some photo's inside directly after. One of the roof shots is to apparently be used as an album sleeve for a new album (of material from these shows ?). The Pumpkins played just over an hour, playing new songs from their upcoming album, and were warmly recieved. Billy Corgan was imposing as always, and D'Arcy guaranteed the attention of the male members of the crowd with her see through shirt. Cheap Trick came on to a rapturous welcome, playing the In Color songs. Pumpkins new drummer, Kenny Aronoff joined the band (playing maraccas) for You're all Talk. The band were in blistering form, for surely one of their finest shows ever. Tom wore a sky blue shirt with striped trousers, Rick had on a red jacket and had the word "pumpkins" written on his beard tag, Robin sported a leopard print jacket, with Bun in a classic white shirt and red tie. The band were so hot they burnt, Rick broke a string during "Oh Carloine" and had to replace his guitar during the song. "Taxman Mr Thief" was incredible, and a huge roar went out as Billy Corgan joined the band on stage for "Mandocello" and "Just Got Back". But he'd been jokingly introduced by Rick as his "bastard son", and Rick was reduced to fits of laughter as Corgan appeared as a "young Rick" ! He came on in with black trousers, a Rick "skulls" sweater, and black (Metro) cap, and sporting a classic RN Hamer checkerboard guitar. Rick had NOT been in on this, and for once was speechless ! That was a real highlight, and hopefully one that will get some airplay on MTV one day soon. For the encore, D'Arcy joined the band to provide extra vocals for "If You Want My Love" (and at least we HEARD her vocals this time, unlike during the SP set), and Rick had earier led a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for her as she sat at the back of the hall. The Flame was performed semi accoustically which sounded really good, and then came a blistering finale of "Gonna Raise Hell" which mere words cannot begin to describe. Rick was asked by a fan next day (when he came out around 5pm to chat with the queue) "Are you gonna play <Gonna Raise Hell> tonight ?" to which Rick replied "No, we're afraid to". Yes, it really WAS that good. And only just captured on official video too for posterity. The recording tape ran out around 3 seconds after the last note. Many people were heard to remark afterwards that this was the finest Trick show they'd ever seen. Personally, my overwhelming thought immediately after the show was "WHY aren't these guys f***ing HUGE ????".
The queue for the last night started at around 9am, and although it was a dry though overcast day, there was a chilling wind blowing, which really made it a long day in line. People spent even MORE time popping into the bars and the Hot Dog parlour opposite, just to stay warm. Whilst the theatre doors were open, we got to hear "You're all talk" and "On the radio" during the soundcheck. The fans who'd bought the 4 show ticket package were also able to pick up their autographed Complete Budokan CDs during the evening. I claim a record for getting from the front doors, searched, ticket checked, CD voucher checked and CD collected, and getting to the stage in around 19 seconds flat ! The support band were Local H, an interesting two piece band (yes, guitar/vocalist and drummer). But they played with high energy, causing an amp to blow early on. In keeping with what was now tradition, Rick and Bun came out and played "He's a Whore" with them at the end of their set, and it sounded great. And despite such a high the previous night, the "Heaven Tonight" night didn't disappoint. Rick was the man in black, wearing a black suit and t-shirt. Bun wore his light blue shirt, Robin had on the purple suit and green shirt, and Tim looked striking in a red shirt and black suit. The band opened with "Oh Claire", and proceeded to crank out yet another powerful set, enjoyed again by Billy Corgan (amongst others) up in the balcony. A local DJ came out and did the patter during "On the Radio". Robin had a number of lyric sheets stuck to his monitors, but he visibly couldn't find "How are you", not that anyone would have noticed from his singing. Borderline was scrubbed from the planned set, but Tom delighted fans with "I Know what I Want". The guitarist from Local H came on and joined them for that, with Robin passing over HIS guitar and just doing backing vocals. Unfortunately Rick broke a string during this song, so I suspect it didn't turn out quite as well (recording wise) as hoped. And throughout, there was a little 5-6 year old girl next to me who'd been brought by her parents to experience her first Trick show, just left of front stage centre, and they were delighted that all of the band acknowledged her presence in various way, with smiles from Robin and Tom, and faces from Rick. Rick even tried to get her to strum his Uncle Dick guitar during a song early on, but sadly shyness got the better of her. She DID get a Bun E drumstick, and several Rick picks. It was great to see them make the night particularly special for her. All too soon the show was over, and the 4 night run ended. The band seemed tired yet delighted with how it went, and again the local bars saw plenty of business afterwards.
Like Trickfest, the shows were made even more special by the range of fans there. They came again from far and wide, Japan, Sweden and England, not forgetting all points across America. I know of people who travelled from such far flung places as Charlotte, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas and California. And of course the ever loyal fans from the MidWest were out in force too, as they had been way before Budokan was a hit. Whether they travelled ten miles or ten thousand, there were a whole roomful of very cool CT fans there every night. It seemed appropriate that soon after the show, and as people were saying their goodbyes to each other, the heavens opened, as if the heaviest rain had held off deliberately until the end of the last night.
It was a real pleasure again to run into so many fans from TF2, NGers and non NGers alike. Many lurkers made themselves known, and it was a buzz to also meet so many "regular" fans, just as committed but not on the Net. Proof again, if needed, what a great bunch of people Trick fans are. And probably the most loyal you could find.
Whether we see an album or some other type of audio or video release of these shows remains to be seen. But it would be a shame if material from such stunning shows was shelved, particularly from the In Color show. There's potentially a lot of mileage to be made from the Smashing Pumpkins connection there.
All that remained was for Chicago to have a warm sunny day after The Metro series finished and I was due to fly home. But at least I got to get to the top of Sears Tower at last. The flight home was fine, though I didn't get any sleep. For some reason, CT songs just kept my mind buzzing ("I hear voices inside my head, all of them are Robin singing <Downed>.....") but the trip ended on a sour note. Flew back to Manchester from Chicago via London Heathrow. Well, I arrived back in Manchester some hours ago (as I write) ... but sadly my baggage didn't. It probably went to Manila or Mandocello, or anywhere else beginning with MAN other than Manchester. It finally got delivered to my home 12 hours later.
But despite the lost baggage, it was a fantastic few days at a very special event, with a whole bunch of really cool people.
SET LISTS (as copied from those on stage for RZ. MY comments are shown in italics)
Thurs 30 April - At Budokan
(RN with Smoking Popes - Voices)
Hello There (long), Cmon Cmon, ELO Kiddies, Speak Now, Big Eyes, Lookout, Downed, Can't Hold On, Oh Caroline, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen, Need Your Love, High Roller, Southern Girls, IWYTWM, California Man, Goodnight Now
Encore - Ain't That A Shame, Clock Strikes 10
Fri 1 May - Cheap Trick
(RN with Smoking Popes - Voices)
(TP with TripleFastAction - I Know What I Want)
ELO Kiddies, Daddy should Have Stayed in High School, Taxman, Cry Cry, Oh Candy, Hot Love, Speak Now, He's a Whore, Mandocello, TV Violence, So Good to See You, Borderline (Slow electric version), Hard to Tell, IYWML (extra bridge), IWYTWM (Skiffle mix)
Encore - Voices, Dream Police, Goodnight Now
Sat 2 May - In Color
Hello There (long), Big Eyes, Downed, IWYTWM, You're All Talk (Kenny Aronoff, Smashing Pumpkins drummer on maracca's), Oh Caroline, Clock Strikes 10, Southern Girls, Come On Come On, So Good to see You, Cry Cry, Taxman, Mandocello (with Billy Corgan - guitar), Just Got Back (ditto)
Encore - IYWML (with D'Arcy Wretsky - backing vocals), The Flame (RN, accoustic guitar), Gonna Raise Hell
Sun 3 May - Heaven Tonight
(RN, BEC with Local H - He's a Whore)
Oh Claire, Surrender, On Top of the World, California Man, High Roller, Auf Wiedersehen, Takin' Me Back, On the Radio (with local DJ), Heaven Tonight, Stiff Competition, How Are You, You're all Talk, So Good to See you, Borderline (on set list but NOT played), Can't Take It
Encore - Ghost Town, I Know What I Want (with Local H guitarist), Dream Police, Goodnight Now(In total, 47 different songs were performed over the 4 shows)
This Site and all material held within it are Copyright by Kim Gisborne