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Cheap Trick’s seemingly never-ending touring odyssey continues, with the latest of their occasional two-nighters taking them to Reno, Nevada, self proclaimed as being "The Biggest Little City in the World". The two night stands are fun to go to in a number of ways – you get two different sets, you don’t have to travel between shows and you generally get to see many of the bands hard core fans! Well, those seemed like three good reasons to me, so after a very hectic few summer weeks at work, I found myself getting ready to Reno. Another new destination for me, all I knew of it was that it had casino’s and nearby Lake Tahoe. Well, this busy weekend trip opened my eyes a little more!

Thursday 4 August - The long journey out

As usual, an early start at home in Leeds, England. I had to be up a little after 4am, since getting to the airport was something of a marathon in itself. I caught a 5.50am bus into Leeds city centre and then a train over to Manchester Airport. I was checked onto my flight by around 8.30am, so had a little time to relax and actually grab a cup of coffee in the Lounge! Today was going to be a long one. Not only a two hour journey to the airport, but then a 10+ hour flight to Las Vegas, and a 7-8 hour car ride up to Reno. With it being the height of summer, Vegas was the only airport I could get flights into.

My BMI flight took off at 10.20am from overcast Manchester, and it was a pretty full flight. As usual I had managed to reserve an aisle seat, so at least I could get up and stretch my legs once in a while. Nice that BMI still serve free alcohol on transatlantic flights, unlike several American airlines, but I did notice that they now charge for nuts, snacks or sweet nibbles to have with your drink. Anyway, suffice to say that it was a long haul and I didn’t get any sleep… as usual! However, the seatback video in economy did allow me to watch "Madagascar" (fairly entertaining) and the movie version of "The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy" (some good special effects but otherwise awful!). Finally landed at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas at 12.45pm local time, and was informed by the Captain that it was almost 100 degrees outside, yikes! Happily the weather was great and the landing was fine (the Air France airbus crash at Toronto had happened just a couple of days ago, but in bad weather).

Getting through Immigration and Customs didn’t take too long and Victoria from CA had very kindly offered to meet me and drive up to Reno. Outside the Terminal it was indeed sweltering, and the 480 mile desert drive up to Reno promised to be a haul. However, we had a brief shopping stop at the nearby Hard Rock Café and Hard Rock Hotel before ploughing through busy Vegas traffic to get onto the freeway heading north. I’ve never driven north of Las Vegas, and was surprised at how the city sprawls well beyond the Strip, with new developments continuing to push the city boundary ever northwards into the desert.

Let me tell you now, there isn’t a whole lot between Vegas and Reno, other than desert and hills/mountains! I was surprised that we actually got caught in a thunderstorm an hour or two out of Vegas, but we soon passed through that. We drove by tiny, shabby, run down settlements with more abandoned cars than houses, a few had small, boarded up mine entrances so presumably had once been home to silver mining. A real eye opener for me, and I'm sorry that we didn't get the chance to stop and take a photo or two, was seeing about 4 small brothels along the way. All had large signs by the road but the buildings looked pretty small. Only in Nevada I guess! To show how desolate route 95 is, the small town of Tonopah is pretty much the metropolis between Vegas and Reno… though it wasn't exactly a picture postcard. And on the north side as you leave town is the Clown Motel. That just looked so out of place that we had to stop and take a photo. If you saw it in Vegas or Reno, you probably wouldn't think twice, but it was just odd in that small town. Probably not the place to stay if you have a bad thing about clowns…

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The sun was setting as we passed through Hawthorn, near the bottom of Walker Lake, but as you approach this small town, you see hundreds of small bunker mounds to either side of the road. Difficult to describe, but this is a US Army Ammunition Depot and Testing Range, so I guess all sorts of military stuff is buried underground. It must be one huge place as these mounds covered several square miles. Weird to see.   

We finally reached Reno at 10.30pm, and as we drove into the self parking entrance of the Silver Legacy Hotel/Casino, it was very cool to see a huge, painted sign for Cheap Trick on the curving upwards ramp wall. Hard to get a great photo, but I tried! After checking in, we headed down to the lobby to look around and also find good friend Tony H from LA, who'd be sharing our room. Nice to find a table of friends at the 24 hr Sweetwater Café - Junko and Mutsumi from Japan, also Flis, Tony, Danny, Brenton, Zandergal from NJ and Dawn from Oregon. (If I missed anyone out from this list or later in the Review, I sincerely apologise!). We sat with them for a while, though they'd all mostly finished eating. The party (at least down there) broke up around midnight, and I was wayyyy ready for bed! By now I'd been awake for about 28 hours, so sleep was very welcome!

Friday 5 August - Cheap Trick in Reno - Night #1

I was awake early and so showered and slipped out before either Victoria or Tony awoke. I went downstairs to look around, and ran into Brenton from LA in the lobby. He was also getting an early morning coffee, so we had a wander around together, including a stop for Krispy Kreme donuts! The Silver Legacy Casino was pleasant enough, and its centrepiece is a 4 storey high mock Silver Mine tower. At regular intervals the lights on it darken and a short, modest light/laser show takes place. Above it is a domed ceiling, on which are projected forthcoming entertainment acts, and nice to see Cheap Trick mentioned. Actually, I both saw and heard that advertising for the CT shows was extremely good. As well as the large sign on the wall of the parking garage, there were numerous small posterboards within the casino and hotel lobby areas, also several TV screens advertising entertainment acts, and CT were to be seen with excepts from the "From Tokyo to You" footage I believe. There was also a wonderful, large red banner at the bottom of the main escalator to the casino floor, and I heard there had been some radio advertising too. All good stuff.

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Outside it was hot and sunny, and the main Virginia Street was flanked to both sides with wonderful, gleaming classic cars of all shapes and sizes. This is one of the biggest weeks of the year in Reno, the "Hot August Nights" Festival, where literally thousands of classic car enthusiasts and their cars converge on Reno to display and parade. Virginia St was just one of several places where cars could be seen. I'm not really a car fan, but I must admit that the sight of all these pristine classic motors was impressive!

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The morning and early afternoon were fairly quiet, and mid afternoon I went downstairs to the venue to hear soundcheck and also help set up the merchandise table. Earlier I'd looked in and the stage was still being built. The venue was a large, almost square ballroom/function room, with predominently beige coloured walls and ceiling. The large stage was set up opposite the entrance doors, and there were four video screens, two to each side of the stage. There were 14 rows of floor seating, then raised seating to the rear and rear corners, and apparently the room could seat 3,000-3,500.

The band came down around 4pm, and soundchecked about 15 minutes later. They played "Borderline", then Robin, Rick and Tom played an electric version of "Shelter". Right at the end and alone on stage, Rick played a brief, 20 second rhythm of "Invaders of the Heart", no doubt a small teaser for me!

After that I went to help with merchandise, with regular merch manager Jon, and also fellow fan Adam K from Florida. As we were setting up, nice to see many friends turn up to look around and say hello, including Dawn and Deanna who'd driven from Chicago, Adam B from NY, Dia who'd come from Texas, Kevin and Susan from the Bay, Aussie Steve and Lisa from Rhode Island, Cheryl, Sayuri and Mike, local fan and guitarhead Robert, Jimmy from Carolina, Shaondra and Rick, Stacey from Denver and others. The list is not exhaustive, and my apologies if I've missed anyone (any omissions are purely accidental and blamed on my ageing memory!) It was also particularly good to see another long time friend, Lee, who lives in Reno. Whilst we did t-shirts, she was kind enough to make me a sign to hold up during the show.

With no opening band, Cheap Trick took to the stage at 9.02pm, and a couple of front stage video camera's had their footage projected onto the video screens throughout the show.

RN - Black patterned suit, black "Trik-Fan" WI licence plate t-shirt
RZ - Gold patterned suit, white shirt, white tie, white hat
TP - Long black jacket, black pants, white striped shirt
BC - Black t-shirt, black jeans

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, Southern Girls, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Voices, Never Had a Lot to Lose, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, RN/group intro to… California Man, Goodnight Now

There was a good sized crowd, though it wasn't a sell out. The crowd rose to welcome the band onto the stage, and nice that they stayed standing throughout, which makes for a better atmosphere I think. Interesting to see a couple of fans tentatively walk down the aisle from the back early on, and stand at front stage in front of the first row of people. When it became obvious that Security were happy to allow this, more fans went from rear seats down to front stage.

After "Big Eyes", Robin started doing a quick vocal of something and Rick joined in. From row 7 or 8 I couldn't quite hear it, though I later heard that Robin had sung a little bit of "Born to Raise Hell". "If You Want My Love" was introduced as being from "…that great, great movie, Joe Dirt" and during the song Rick showed off his cool Trikfan t-shirt. It was a gift from CT fan Laura from Wisconsin who'd flown in for these shows. After "Southern Girls", Rick mentioned fans from Yokohama Japan, and also from Leeds England… "He's not one of those terrorist bombers" he assured the crowd. At this point we held up the sign that Lee had made, proclaiming "Happy Birthday Colin", as it was Tom and Robin's tech's birthday today. Rick spotted it and mentioned that it was also lighting guy Larry's birthday too. He also wished long time fans/friends Kevin and Susan a happy 21st Anniversary, and then jokingly announced that local fan Kilroy had donated a guitar to the Rick Nielsen Rock'n'Roll Museum! They'd actually traded guitars, and he showed the Flying V to Bun, Robin and Tom, asking "Does it look alright?" He then played that guitar during the next song "Best Friend", which is one of the highlights of the current setlist I think. However, it was a pain to have a Security man literally in my face for most of the song. He'd spotted Kilroy, a few seats along from me, take a shot of Rick playing his guitar, and he demanded the camera and spent almost the whole song in front of me, trying to see what photo's (if any) had been taken. He even got another security guy to come join in. Meanwhile, other fans in the crowd were happily taking photo's, so go figure. The ending of the song was a little more extended than usual and as always it rocked, but thanks to the security guards for spoiling it for me. I heard later from those at front that Robin was exceptionally "into" the frenzied climax of the song, and indeed he was very animated throughout this and the following nights shows.

During "IWYTWM" Robin did the pick teardrop on his face. Afterwards, Rick's guitar change was done by Ludwig's West Coast artist rep, Todd Trent. Rick then mentioned more familiar faces in the crowd, such as the two Adams, former soundman Lee Popa, "one of my favourite chefs" (Jimmy, the Carolina Man), Chris and Candace from CT's version of The Osbournes (!), and Sayuri and Mike. He then introduced "the inventor of the 12 string bass guitar and former resident of the great State of Nevada… Tom Petersson", who then sang "I Know What I Want".

After "I Know What I Want", Rick announced that one of his old girlfriends was in the 5th row… "she finally smiled at me!" He then started introducing Robin, but interrupted to say "this is like Trickfest 10!" He went on "I call him MISTER Zander, but you can call him Robin Zander". Robin then stepped up to sing "Voices". After "Lot to Lose", Rick thanked the lady on the plane who'd given him the Trikfan t-shirt. Someone at the front then shouted something to him, causing him to reply "What? For 20 years you've seen us? What… you want your money back?" After "The Flame" Rick again mentioned Kevin and Susan, and also noted that "This is the soberest I've ever seen Danny Saint!" He also pointed out Junko from Japan, drawing some applause when he mentioned that "She was Live at Budokan". He jokingly added "You know that high pitched whiny scream? That was her!" As the band was leaving the stage at the end of "Surrender", Robin thanked the crowd, adding "You're too kind".

Rick had to tap Robins shoulder during "Dream Police" in order to get to the mic to do his spoken piece! Robin must have been in the zone! Rick started his guitar solo intro to the next song, which unusually turned into a sort of guitar-wars jam with Robin and Tom, complete with stereotypical guitarist poses! That led into "California Man", and then "Goodnight Now" ended the show, complete with extended Bun ending.

It had been a nice show, and the crowd seemed to like it. After the merch booth had died down and we'd packed away, it was a case of deciding what to do. Many friends were heading to a bar or room to party, but not having eaten since mid-morning breakfast buffet, I needed to eat. So Victoria, Lee and I ate at the Sweetwater Café, which served an extremely good and varied menu for a 24 hour place. Later on, we saw many fans and crew members in one of the bars, celebrating the birthdays. However, it was around 1am and I needed sleep, so it was back to the room and to bed.

Saturday 6 August - Cheap Trick in Reno - Night #2

I slept poorly and was again awake early. It hadn't helped that I kept hearing train hooters through the night. The rail track passes right through the centre of downtown, maybe a couple of blocks away, but why the night trains have to hoot during the small hours I don't know. Anyway, I showered and was out early again, I saw Susan K having breakfast in the Sweetwater, so I joined her for coffee. A little later, Victoria came by and we ran into Brenton and Dawn at the place that sold Krispy Kreme's. Mid morning I had another wander outside, to video some of the cars and activity on Virginia St. A few of us had lunch in one of the places in the Silver Legacy, and the hotel and casino were visibly busier today with many more people milling around.

I left the lunch group a little before 2.30pm to go downstairs to the venue to meet with Bun who was scheduled to have a drum check (there was no band soundcheck today). Bun had kindly agreed to give me a short interview, and we sat in the front row of the venue and talked whilst a couple of the crew were quietly doing stuff on stage. {To read interview, go to bun_aug05.htm}

A little later we went out to find a drugstore… and it started raining! That was a surprise, though I'm sure rain is very welcome here. All of the classic cars were gone from the street, and the stiff breeze was blowing the rain around. I headed back downstairs a little after 5pm to help Jon and Adam set up again, and TI Fan Club members gradually stopped by to pick up their meet'n'greet passes at the willcall desk opposite. Good to see a few more friends who were just here for tonights show, including Jen W and Lorena, both from California. Also a pleasure to also meet the famous local Lawrence sisters, Mel and Collier, both of whom are well known junior runners, with Mel in particular being one of the top young middle distance athletes in the USA. Remember the name when the 2008 & 2012 Olympics come around. And they like Cheap Trick too! The M&G started from about 7.30pm, though I stayed on helping sell t-shirts. But there were a lot of fan club attendees, so they were taken to a back area corridor in groups and had a quick meet and greet with the band members.

The band took to the stage at 8pm tonight, with the front area already full with fans.

RN - Black suit, black "R's" t-shirt
RZ - Black pinstripe suit, white shirt, silver tie, white hat
TP - Cream jacket, black pants, white shirt
BC - Black t-shirt, black jeans

Drone intro to… On Top of the World, He's a Whore, I Can't Take It, Taxman Mr Thief, Pop Drone, I Want You to Want Me, High Roller, Tonight Its You, Fan Club, California Man, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen

After "I Can't Take It", Rick informed the crowd "Just in case you've forgotten, we are still Cheap Trick!". He also announced a couple (I think they were named Kiyono and Eric) who had married earlier today, and he joked "They'll be consumating onstage in a minute!" He then said that they'd had couples get engaged at previous shows, and mentioned a fan couple from Australia and Oregon… "she saw his organ in Oregon!" Trust Rick and his way with words! "Taxman" was terrific and a rare pleasure to hear. Afterwards Rick mentioned Kevin and Susan and their 21st Anniversary again. I think Kevin must have shouted back as Rick jokingly replied "23rd? It doesn't matter Kevin… nobody gives a crap!" He then mentioned the next song as being from the last studio CD… "Did anyone buy it?". There were a few cheers, prompting Rick to reply "So that's where those copies went!". He added that the new CD is hoped to be out in 5… 4… 6 months (so read early-mid 2006 I guess) and said that they'd actually finished most of it. He ended up with one of those classic Rick lines… "We're too dumb to quit, we're Cheap Trick!"

The band launched into a great version of "Pop Drone", and it was during this song that I noticed a couple of rows behind me a 10-12 year old boy dressed in a ballcap, red sweater, black trousers and bow tie, ala late-70's Rick. It was a shame that Rick didn't spot him during the show.

After "Pop Drone" Robin whispered "I want you… to want me" and it was funny to hear Bun play a quiet drum intro before getting up to normal volume to launch up that perennial crowd favourite. Rick then got the new Flying V guitar for the next song ("High Roller"), and was about to introduce it when Tom started the bassline. Tom stopped and Rick was eventually able to say that "This is a song Robin Zander wrote especially for Reno Nevada". Towards the end of the song Robin broke a string.

"Fan Club" was a monster, as it always is. There's something very heartfelt about the lyrics and also the intensity with which the band play this, and as "Best Friend" was the highlight of night #1, then "Fan Club was, in my opinion, the highlight of night #2. Afterwards, Rick played a few more solo bars of "Fan Club", then he and Tom had a short duel of what sounded like some Cream riffs but it wasn't anything I recognised. But it was mainly Rick's solo for a couple of minutes, and he teasingly ended with a bar of "Auf Wiedersehen" before actually starting up "California Man". At the end of the song Rick handed off his guitar to a fan in the front, which must always be a short scare for his tech! After "The Flame", Rick deviated a bit from his usual spiel by announcing "You've heard me saying this a thousand times before… That 70's Show", and the band launched into that "70's Song". As usual Rick threw out a flat during "Surrender", but unusually also handed out another flat to someone at the front at the end too. The encore was started by "Dream Police" as usual, and then went into "Auf Wiedersehen" which delighted many of the crowd, me included! That one is always a pleasure to hear, and not often on the setlist. I believe "Ain't That a Shame" was also listed for the encore but dropped.

The show ended at 9.20 pm and it had been a well played and well received set. The band had played well for both nights and looked to be enjoying themselves, but I felt night #2 had an edge over night #1. That made it even more of a shame that again, the venue wasn't sold out, being perhaps 3/4 full.

There was the usual post show rush for merchandise before we counted out and boxed the remainder up. We joined some friends up in the Sweetwater for a late post-show supper (funny, I've only just realised how many times I ate here during this short stay!) before heading down to the casino bar to see many more friends and say goodbyes. About midnight it was back to the room to sleep, as I had an early flight in the morning.

Sunday 7 August - Monday 8 August - The long journey home

It hadn't seemed like 3 days since I left England but already it was time to start the long journey home. I was up at 6.15am and Victoria kindly got me to Reno's small Airport before 8am. Luckily I had got a flight back to Vegas so no need to make that long drive again. It was a small America West plane to fly south, and it took off from sunny Reno dead on time at 9am. I had managed to get a window seat, so could see a lot of the empty wilderness beneath us which Victoria and I had driven up through. Forty five minutes later we were coming over the mountains which flank Las Vegas to the west, nice to see how they looked from above. We landed 5 minutes later, and I was out into the chaos of McCarren's main, busy domestic terminal to get my bag. It finally arrived on the carousel and I managed to find my way to get a shuttle bus for the short ride to the international terminal.

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Mountains to west of Vegas // Las Vegas Strip from above

The domestic terminal is busy but well presented and roomy, with lots of shops and restaurants. The international terminal was surprisingly dowdy. I hadn't seen much of it when I arrived, but I was surprised at how down market it was in comparison. The main check-in hall was smaller than at my local Leeds/Bradford Airport back in England. I guess they don't get many international flights to justify anything bigger, but they do have direct flights in from (at least) the UK, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Canada from what I could see, so I was surprised at the small size. Anyway, I was so early I had to wait 30 minutes before being to check-in, to then find that I couldn't use my Star Alliance Gold frequent fliers card to use the lounge because I wasn't flying in Business :-( That sucked, but it seems the various FF schemes are all tightening up to save money. Anyway, I sat in the general seating area, had a BK Whopper and a Cinnabon cinnamon roll (my brunch!) and killed 3 hours by catching up on my travel diary.

The Manchester flight was again pretty busy, but I did get to change my seat at the boarding gate so that I'd have two seats to myself. It was lucky that I did as one person in my new row of 4 seats moved shortly before take off so I ended up having 3 seats to myself! Definitely a luxury, and after a typical airline dinner I tried to lay down (in a sort of folded way) and get comfortable enough for sleep. I can't say that I really dropped off, but I must have dozed for a few hours into Monday morning. We landed at sunny Manchester 9˝ hours after taking off, and after a long wait at immigration, I got my bag and went and caught a train back to Leeds and straight into work as usual.


And so the end of another whirlwind weekend, and as ever there are thanks to give. Many thanks as always to Victoria for all the driving, generosity and for the share of the hotel room! Thanks to Cheap Trick, Carla, Jon and crew for putting up with my being around, again, and particularly to Bun and Carla for the interview! And thanks to the many old friends and new friends that I met at the shows. There are too many of you to list (though I named some during the review), but it was a great pleasure to see you all!

Kim Gisborne - Leeds, England - 13 August 2005

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