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Cheap Trick in New York - 29-31 October 1998

{Big band intro} "Start spreadin' the news .... I'm leavin' today ... I wanna be a part of it ... Cheap Trick, New York.."

Following soon after February's Trickfest 2, the Chicago Metro album shows in late April have already gone down in Cheap Trick history. They'd been a real international affair, and a swift return to meeting old/new friends after the fan event. Since then, many regular and album shows have been played, both in the US and in Europe, but the next big, anticipated event was the album show run in New York at the end of October.

My trip started on Monday 26 Oct, heading down to Windsor from Leeds. I stayed the night with a good Trick friend, before flying out of Heathrow the following lunchtime. I spent much of my first 24 hours sightseeing, before meeting up with two other fans in for the New York shows and staying in the same hotel, from Glasgow and from Brisbane.


The morning of show #1 was bright and sunny, and the weather stayed that way for the next 6 days. I went to Irving Plaza early to head the line. As the afternoon went on, those in line gave good business (on this, and the next two days) to the coffee shop/bakery just around the corner, also Starbucks and a pizza shop a block away. VIP pass holders (having bought the package of tickets for all 3 nights) were let in at 7pm.

The hall was quite intimate, though a little deeper than The Metro in Chicago. It also had a balcony on 3 sides, one side reserved for VIPs. This night, including some of Garbage, Joey Ramone, and the guy who produced most of U2's albums. At front stage was a huge screen dropped from the ceiling, on which music vids were played, both before the show, and between acts. At around 8.50pm, the support band came on. The Independents, produced by Joey Ramone did not impress. The lead singer looked like a cross between the actor Brian Blessed, and Roy Wood, only hairier and more unkempt. He wore patched up jeans, and a battered leather jacket with some pretty fearsome spikes on it. I wish I could say I understood any of his lyrics, but the clearest song had only the repeated lyrics "F*ck it" or "F*ck you", whatever).

At 10pm, the lights went down, the familiar refrain from "I must be dreaming" started up, and here we go, night #1 in the Big Apple ! Bun E was wearing black pants, grey shirt and black cap; Rick wore his black pinstripe suit, black t-shirt, and his new black/white check Fila sneakers. And his beard tag had "CT" on one side, and "NYC" on the other. Robin wore black velvet jacket and pants, and fawn t-shirt, and Tom wore velvet jacket, black roll neck shirt light pants, and the cross. On Rick's amps were Tweety (with 666 written on the forehead) and a Rick doll (70's sytle). On Tom's amps were Chairy and the Viking helmet.

The set played was:

ELO Kiddies, Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School, Taxman Mr Thief, Cry Cry, Oh Candy, Hot Love, Speak Now, He's a Whore, Mandocello, Ballad of TV Violence, Shelter, Can't Hold On, Stop This Game, Surrender (Rick broke a string on the second neck), Voices, Dream Police, Goodnight Now.

The band looked and sounded great, as always, and again, the first album sounded terrific played live. Highlights ? All of it !!

The show was webcast on the internet, as was the Q&A afterwards. Amongst other things mentioned during the Q&A were TrickFest 3, "Music for Hangovers", and plans for the next studio album. I asked about the hidden track on CT97 - Rick said it was his idea, that he wanted to do something different and unusual. As always, Rick did most of the answering, Bun did some, and Robin and Tom were pretty quiet. But all seemed relaxed, and happy to be there. As we left the theatre afterwards, we each collected our souvenir poster, very nice.

After it all ended (around 12.25am), the local bars did brisk business, though many fans chatted in groups outside, seemingly unwilling to leave the scene, and wanting to stay and chat with old/new friends from everywhere.


My overnight buzz was such that I awoke early, around 6.15am, so I got up early and walked from 5th/11th West down to Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge before breakfast. How could I feel so good on so little sleep ? Must be that CT adrenaline ! Also headed up to the Empire State Building mid morning, before getting down to Irving Plaza after lunch. It was to be a quiet afternoon as many fans went to see the taping of the "Conan O'Brien Show", on which the band performed "Hot Love". I spent the afternoon chatting (as best as I could) to the fans who flew in from Japan, and later on, Mike Hayes.

Doors opened at 8.10pm, and openers tonight were Chavez, from New Jersey I think. They opened with the intense, climactic part from towards the end of Dream Police for about a minute, then started with their own songs. They were better than the Independents, but I'm afraid they didn't move me. But like Babe the Blue Ox on the next night, they said several times what a thrill it was for them to open for Cheap Trick.

Our boys took to the stage at 10.20 pm, to another enthusiastic New York welcome, and interesting to see Robin had the lyrics to "So Good.." taped down by his mike. Rick wore his black check suit, and a black t-shirt (couldn't make out the beard tag, sorry); Tom had on a long black coat, black checked pants, a black & white shirt, and the gold cross; Robin wore the blue velvet suit and transparent green shirt, and Bun wore black pants and flowered blue shirt. The set was:

Hello There, Big Eyes, Downed, I Want You to Want Me, Oh Caroline, Clock Strikes Ten, Southern Girls, Come On Come On, So Good to See You, Ghost Town (written as "Ghost Berg" on set list), Eight Miles Low, Need Your Love, Goodnight Now, I Can't Take It, Auf Wiedersehen.

For the encore (Can't Take It, Aufie), Rick came back on wearing one of the new "Halloween" t-shirts, produced especially for the 10/31 show, and which had arrived just before the show. That ensured the merchandise stand had a busy time after Trick left the stage. One more thing, apparently two guys dressed as Dream Police, the full gear, were in the crowd that night !


The "Treat" was to be here in New York, now bring on the "Trick" !

The buzz was that tonights "All Hallow's Eve" show would be somewhat special. Halloween in New York is apparently a real experience, and that was evident as once again (as on the previous two nights, but tonight more so) we saw large numbers of both children and adults in costume etc, all in high spirits. Many of the Cheap Trick audience were also in fancy dress, with cats, Beelzebub, a clown (shades of Woke Up with a Monster !) and a 70's style Bun E who looked uncannily real ! I don't know why, maybe it was the holiday atmosphere, but that last afternoon/evening in line was just so much fun.

The support band tonight were local band Babe the Blue Ox, by special request of Tom and Bun I think. The stage was decorated appropriately (more on that in a minute), and the BTBO drums were decorated with cobwebs, with the drum head having a pumpkin face on it. They were by far the best of the opening acts, though difficult to describe. The hightlight without doubt was their last song, Southern Girls, when they were joined by Bun and Tom. That got the crowd going nuts ! Bun came out minus cap, in white shirt and jeans. Tom though was VERY mysterious. He wore a long black robe, and a devils mask with horns that totally obscured his face. But you could tell by his playing that it was THE man himself !

The stage ? Well, it had skeletons, pumpkins and skulls all over the place. Spooky. At the very front of the stage, close to me, was an RIP tombstone. The Viking helmet on Tom's amp was on top of a lit pumpkin head. Can't remember if the candles were to each side of the stage on the speakers, as they had been during "In Color".

The witching hour approached, the lights went down, and the crowd bayed ! And who should walk on, but special guest Gene Simmons ! Or rather, a lookalike. To the increasing derision of the crowd, "Gene" told the crowd how Kiss had given CT the push to success by letting them open for Kiss, blah blah blah. He was just telling everyone that there was still time to "get your ass onto an LA plane, and go see a REAL show at the Dodgers Stadium" when on walked the four Dream Police ! No, it wasn't CT themselves, though the four guys did remind me of the band in some respects and one was the bands manager ! The Dream Police proceeded to batter "Gene" with their truncheons, sorry, nightsticks, and carried him off stage ! What a way to warm the crowd up. Almost immediately, that familiar tune started up, and on came the band, to take everyone to Heaven Tonight.

Bun had changed into a grey shirt, black pants and cap; Rick wore a black suit and CT Halloween t-shirt, and Robin wore the purple velvet suit and bottle green shirt. And now we knew why Tom disguised himself earlier ! He wore a red silk jacket, black silk pants, black/white polka dot shirt, gold cross and red boots. But his hair was slicked back, and he was heavily made up to resemble a vampire or ghoul. He also had two silver fangs. He looked totally awesome! He also had a bat dangling from his bass. One more thing, Ricks beard tag didn't have any writing on it, rather it had a drawing that resembled a pirates face (eyepatch, hat etc), obviously in reference to the BTBO female dummer who was dressed as a pirate.

The set list was:

Oh Claire (Rick on 5 neck), Surrender, On Top of the World, California Man, High Roller, Auf Widersehen, Takin' Me Back, On the Radio, Heaven Tonight, Stiff Competition, How Are You,  Voices, Fan Club, I Know What I Want, Just Got Back, If You Want My Love, Gonna Raise Hell.

Robin had lyrics pasted to the stage for On the Radio, How Are You, Takin' Me Back and Stiff Competition. Rick screwed up during "Takin' Me Back", as he said "I f*cked up" during the song. After the song finished, he told us all again, and then quickly re-played the bridge ! Then Tom admitted he'd f*cked up that bit too ! On the Radio was cool, with Ira Robbins (who wrote the liner notes for the box set) coming on to do a fine job as DJ. On Voices, Bun E played maraccas that were skulls ! After Just Got Back, the band went off, but Rick's roadie came to Rick's mic, holding a skull "picture" up to the mic. He shook it around a bit, and it wailed ! So he did it again. If You Want My Love was terrific, and Gonna Raise Hell was unbelievable, as it always is. What a way to finish the 3 nights ! Rick in particular was visibly exhausted as the final notes ended.

After the show, Tom and Robin had got away very quickly. Bun came out maybe 20 mins after the end, followed by a tired and subdued Rick. No doubt, they'd given us their all to entertain us that night. We all soon headed away too, to eat or drink, or sleep. As at TF2, and The Metro, I for one found it sad to say goodbye to everyone, though no doubt we'll all do it again at TF3 in 7 months. As always, it was a real pleasure for me to see, and meet up again with friends old and new. Like at Chicago, they came from all over the US, as well as England, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, Japan and Australia.

In conclusion, a memorable trip, wonderful shows, and terrific people. Following Cheap Trick doesn't get much better than this !


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