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Trickfest 3 and Rockford - 24-28 Aug 1999

Tues 24 Aug

Four years to the day since Trickfest 1, I was setting out from home to the Midwest, this time for TF3 and the 25th Anniversary Show in hometown Rockford ! A cool bright morning saw my long journey, to Leeds/Bradford Airport, to Amsterdam, and then to Chicago.

Well, it was the typical 8 hr flight, but around noon Chicago time (I was still 3 1/2 hrs away), I got to thinking that at that moment, probably 200-300 people were in planes or cars, from all over the States and further afield, all heading to Merrillville. An amazing thought.

We got into O'Hare on time. I got through immigration OK, but it took almost an hour for my case to finally arrive at the luggage claim. I got to the Bus Shuttle Centre soon after, and in the next few minutes met up with a number of American and Japanese fans/friends. We took the last couple of rows of the 5.15 coach, and soon got caught in Chicago rush hour traffic. At which point, one person got his guitar out, and we held a quiet(ish) impromptu jam ! The set list included Cal Man, Voices, Tight and Surrender ! That certainly got us even "more" into the TF3 mood !

On arriving in Merrillville, we waited some 15 mins for the Radisson courtesy bus to collect us, and we felt spots of rain as it arrived just in time. It was wonderful to walk into the hotel lobby and see lots of familiar faces up at the bar, a great welcome ! After checking in and showering, the rest of the evening was spent in the bar catching up with so many old and new friends. It was a weird travelling day, so many other people arrived later than planned. It seems that the weather affected a lot of flights from all over. The evening ended in 2229 where the now traditional Jam was in full swing ! The room was full, and the musicians (and singers) in fine form. Two phone calls from hotel security around midnight soon ended proceedings though. Oh well, TF3 starts tomorrow !

Weds 25 Aug

Only got 4 hours broken sleep. The day turned out to be mild, but overcast and mostly wet. Had an early shower and breakfast (6.10 am), and at 7 am joined the line to register for TF3 and get out goody packs. Wow, nice TF3 t-shirt, and a limited edition, numbered rarities CD. Even before TF3 opened in the Star Plaza theatre at 10am, I'd met many of those who'd come in from overseas. To my knowledge, Fest had attendees from all points of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden and the Canary Islands (Spain). As at every Fest, underlining the global appeal of Cheap Trick.

As at TF2, the lobby of the Star Plaza had the merchandise stand (manned by Mindy Candas plus various CT family members), plus the posters/silent auction stand (manned by John G). Some cool new t-shirts etc, and it seemed the lining up to buy stuff was much less frenzied than last time. Like many other things about TF3, it seemed much more relaxed and mellow.

The theatre saw the photoshoot with the band take place all day. The backdrop was from Busted, and the pre lunch session saw the first half of the alphabet line up. Some really funny moments, like when one fan went up. He'd paid for 4 pix, and after the first one, he peeled off his t-shirt to reveal another beneath. After that pic was taken, same again, then again ! Another fan had something similar planned. His first t-shirt was a CT one, but after peeling that off, he had on a shirt showing a fist giving the finger !! And on cue, the fan and all 4 CT members flipped the bird at the camera ! Nice to see Mike Hayes and one or two others get a round of applause upon taking the stage for their photo's. During the afternoon, one highlight was of the couple from California who presented each band member with a "Dream Police 2000" boxed figure of themselves. They were amazing, the dolls were dressed in silver, and were so detailed, down to Rick's goatee. The packaging was professionally impressive too.

After the photo's were finished, there was time to grab a quick bite to eat before going back to the theatre for soundcheck.

RN - Black suit, black Mysterious Rick t-shirt

RZ - rust coloured top, shades, faded blue jeans

TP - blue jeans, pale green top, long leather jacket

BC - White t-shirt, black jeans.

Before they started proper, Robin played a few chords of Neil Young's "Tell Me Why". They then played Ghost Town accoustic and I'm Losing You, though RZ didn't sing all the lyrics. It sounded darned fine all the same.

The evening's accoustic show started at 9.25.

RN - mauve jacket, black t-shirt, black pants

RZ - white t-shirt, rust jacket, blue jeans

TP - black suit, pale green shirt

BC - blue shirt, black pants

Top of the World, Take Me to the Top, Carnival Game (RZ dropped lyric sheet from stand mid way through !), Oh Candy, It All Comes Back to You, See My Friend (Kinks song, TP main vocals, though RZ vocalled a verse too)

The band then paused for 5 minutes, while Rick made some presentations on behalf of the band to 3 long time friends for their efforts in supporting the band, including author Mike Hayes. Me, I was stunned, though not TOO stunned to say a few words when Rick asked. The recipients each got a framed platinum Greatest Hits award, with the plaque being personalised. The show then continued with:

Down Down (Downed), Shelter (wonderful version, extremely emotional), Never Had A Lot to Lose (the song was stopped halfway through, as a fan almost passed out at the front of the stage. Rick noticed her distress, and immediately stopped playing so that she could get some attention. She was helped from the theatre for fresh air, before returning later. Meanwhile, the band picked the song up exactly where they'd stopped. Amazing), Didn't Know I Had It

** 5 minute break **

(Electric) Just Got Back, Waiting for the Man (Great to hear TP sing this again), Stop This Game, Can't Hold On, In the Street (from "That 70's Show")

It was a terrific set, and later on, another fan Jam was taking place. Early in the morning, somebody had enquired about getting a room away from hotel guests for the Jam, and the hotel mgmt were good enough to offer a large seated area in the Convention Centre. Many of the musicians, American, Japanese and German played CT songs whilst others sang along. Everyone seemed to have a great time, particularly since Security wasn't going to come round to close things down !

Thurs 26 Aug

Had a bad night as far as sleeping went, in that I got none. Not because of noise or anything, I just couldn't sleep. After tossing and turning for several hours, I finally got up, showered and downstairs at 6.15 am. Tickets for the Rockford show were due to be distributed at 9am. I had no idea if they were General Admission, or numbered seats, but it seemed like the best thing to do at that time of the morning since I was awake. I was surprised to see 3 other people already there, two Japanese women, falling asleep (who'd been there since 5am) and someone else still in her bedclothes ! By 7am there was a line of maybe 30 people. After getting my tickets, I headed for a cold buffet breakfast, where I joined about 10 other people incl several of the LA crowd.

First event this morning was the photoshoot with band instruments from 10am. Those started to move fairly quickly after 10.30, and I was pleased to be done soon after 11am, in time to get some pictures autographed for some people who couldn't make it to TF3. The lines were pretty long, Ricks in particular. Many people asked to have an individual photo with band members, which they obliged with a smile. Rick in particular had words to say with just about everybody, I heard Tom's wit was razor sharp throughout, Bun was asking everyone to sign his drum head, which he promised to use at shows in the near future and Robin was joined for much of the morning session by Robin jnr.

Lunch was a bite at Dennys, plus a rush out to the nearby Big K for more camera film ! After lunch, it was back to the theatre to find out the arrangements for the fans Battle of the Bands. The next 2-3 hours were hectic, as those involved needed to get things organised, running order, stage sound and lighting, getting kit to/from stage (huge thanks to Jeff from Michigan who brought most of the kit, amps, drums etc), final rehearsals, organise an MC etc. It all got done, thanks to the help of a number of people, and started at 6.05pm. The Battle took place on the very stage of the theatre, where CT were performing later on.

First up was Brad from Mass who wanted to perform his "Pick Apology Song". He did it accappella, to the tune of the Flame, apologising for hitting Rick (accidentally) with one of his big cardboard picks about 3 years ago. He did a fine job (of the song, not the pick throwing). Our judges then arrived, Jennifer Candas and Rick, (Jack Douglas had unfortunately had to cancel his participation at TF3 due to the sad death of his Father). With a big show coming up later that evening, it was good of Rick in particular to spare the time. And cool for the performers too, after 25 years of "us" going to see "them", Cheap Trick were watching "us" ! The Battle (proper) now started, with 6 bands taking part. First up were myself and the Randy Men (a scratch band), my first ever singing appearance on stage. We got a very warm welcome, obviously none of the crowd had heard me sing before ! I had been very nervous during the 24 hrs leading up to BOTB, but the rush of the afternoon had left me pretty calm, and surprisingly refreshed considering I hadn't slept for 40 hours or something. We played Voices (thanks to the crowd for joining in) and California Man. The crowd and "my" band were great, and it was fun, the spirit in which all the bands approached the "contest".

After a 5 minute turnaround, next up were Speck from California containing 3 people who'd volunteered to be Randy Men ! This band, who'd been together less than a year put on a terrific show. They played Oh Caroline, Take Me I'm Yours and Lookout. They looked and sounded great, and were definitely candidates to win.

During the 10 minute turnaround, I went to see the judges out in the crowd, to ask how they wanted to handle announcing the winners, and any other comments. Ricks smiling reply was "Why are you worried, YOU havn't won !!". Um, thanks Rick ! I also briefly spoke to Bun E, who was watching at the back of the hall, and who'd been sidestage during my set (I hadn't even seen him!).

Third up were The Horny Bulls, like the Randy Men, a scratch band comprising of Jeff (the other Randy Man), Danny (vocalist for Speck), Kinko from Cheap Track on bass and Ron F on drums. I'd seen Ron do this "thing" before at the NYC Halloween show.... But there was a roar from the crowd as he came on ala Bun E from 77 or 78 ! Ron had shaved his beard down to a Bun E moustache, and he looked a dead ringer. Played drums darned well too ! They started up with Kinko vocalling I Know What I want, followed by Surrender. Both were terrific, the latter had Danny singing the line "Got my Speck CD out", and then gently handing the CD, complete with picks taped on, to one of the Japanese ladies in the front of the crowd. They ended with Goodnight Now, the climax of which was a frenzy and saw Ron suddenly playing 6ft high drumsticks ! Amazing ! He got the "Bun E Bun E!" chant at the end, and I understand he went and saw the great man himself as soon as he come off stage into the crowd.

pick11.jpg (23275 bytes)Another 10 minute break, before the pre-show favourites (amongst many of the other musicians anyhow). They were given a Budokan style announcement "Alright Merrillville... Are you ready ?? Will you welcome, from Tokyo Japan.... CHEAP TRACK !!!). Cheap Track then took the stage, and won within about 30 seconds. They were incredible, with Kinko playing superb bass, a terrific drummer (Shigechiyo), Tokyo Zander on vocals, and the amazing Sushi Man starring as Rick. Dressed in yellow shirt, red cardigan complete with badges and doll, black shorts, baseball cap, and checkerboard sneakers, and playing a checkerboard Hamer Explorer, Sushi really had Ricks mannerisms down to a tee ! Playing to the crowd, flicking picks, more moves I can't even describe, it was like he had a switch in his brain that he could turn to "Japanese Rick" and just.... BE Rick. They started with ELO Kiddies, then Hot Love, and a breath taking Auf Wiedersehen. Tokyo Zander was incredible too, his vocals were phoenetic rather than fluent English, but he had every vocal inflexion of Robin's, and the range too, and his vocal style only enhanced his performance, in my mind anyway. And Kinko had the bass intro to Aufie down to a note, fabulous. They had the crowd on their feet during the first song, and never looked back. Even now I can't think of them without smiling, they were a major highlight of TF3 for me.

The depleted Brassmasters from Indianapolis had the unenviable job of following Cheap Track, and were already up against it by being a man short. But they played a decent version of Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School and a rocking Lookout. They did a great job considering they followed the show stealers.

Last up, and slowing down the pace, were Two for the Show from Toledo. They kept it simple, a guitar and keyboards, and played Ohm Sweet Ohm and YOYOY. Again, they did a fine job, and it was nice to get a couple of more obscure tunes.

Well, we were overunning, and it was approaching 7.50 by the time Rick and Jenny came onto the stage. Rick briefly reviewed the bands, starting with "First up, what can I say good about Kim Gisborne .... <pause>.... OK, next up were.. !!". I think that was a joke......I hope ! Both judges thought everyone had performed well, and to be honest, I think everyone approached it as fun, not as a battle to be won. But the winners by a mile were Cheap Track, and their reward was to come up and play Aufie on stage with Cheap Trick at the end of the evenings show ! Terrific ! They were also asked to play at the post-Rockford private party. And the MC did such a fine job that Rick asked for him to introduce Trick's show later. And finally, the crowd were tremendous. Every act was well received, and considering we were all pretty much amateurs (certainly for me, my first time singing on stage), our friends - the audience (maybe 75% of TF3 attendees) were brilliant. Thanks to all of you for helping make it a fun success.

Well, we had a break of little more than an hour, so it was a frenzy to pack kit and amps up, and trolley/carry everything to the room.

Cheap Trick came on stage soon after 9pm, to amaze most people with a "covers show". As Rick introduced it, "Are you ready to hear some songs you've never heard Cheap Trick do before ?". And in truth, no more than a small percentage of the crowd would have been around at the start, over 20 years ago, and heard this sort of set in the clubs and bars of the Midwest. The fan MC got the memory of a lifetime as he introduced the real McCoy... "Alright Merrillville ! Are you ready ? Will you welcome, Indie recording artists, CHEAP TRICK !!".

RN - purple jacket, black pants, new black "R's" t-shirt

TP - long white jacket, dark pants, black shirt

BC - grey flowered shirt, black pants

RZ - black t-shirt, black jeans

Jump into the Fire (Nilsson, from RZ solo album), Have Mercy/Walking the Dog (ending - RN), Its So Hard (Lennon - RZ had to have mic stand replaced during this), Shakin' All Over, Stand By Me (Ben E King), Stone Free (Hendrix), See My Friend (Kinks, TP vocal as before), Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly), Who Do You Love (Bo Diddley)

Rick came back and said "On Saturday night we'll play some stuff you havn't heard in ages, if ever". He also announced that we'd see the premiere of the Music for Hangovers DVD tomorrow evening, and explained Jack Douglas' absence due to bereavement.

- 10-15 minute break -

On returning to the stage, the band carried out a draw of attendees, each presenting a gift. First Tom's childhood accordian, which Rick played a few bars of Lady of Spain on ! Robin then gave away a Shure SM87 mic which he'd used on the last two studio albums. Rick gave away one of his Hamer guitars, and the winner almost missed out by not answering when his name was called out. Finally, Bun E gave away a special edition snare drum and a tape of rare stuff.

The band then continued with the show, in which Tom played a 4 string bass throughout.

I Need You (Kinks, RZ and RN harmony - RZ played a new white guitar), Cold Turkey (played slightly differently than 3 years ago), Whatcha Gonna Do About It (Small Faces), Ramblin' Rose (MC5 - RN vocalled this and was really into it ! He was playing a new white guitar with gold trimmings. At the end of the song, he turned to Robin and said "Top That Mr Great Voice", to which Tom also said "Its impossible to follow.... Rick Sonic Nielsen !"), Well Respected Man (Kinks), I'm Losing You (awesome), Rebel Rebel (Bowie), Auf Wiedersehen (Cheap Track were asked to come up on stage, Kinko was given Toms silver bass to play, Sushi Man had Uncle Dick, the drummer was given a snare, and Tokyo Zander would vocal with Robin relegated to playing guitar. This was awesome, with Kinko playing the bass intro perfectly, and Tokyo was amazing Robin with his singing prowess I think. Rick played up on his steps at one point, then motioned Sushi Man to do the same... he obliged by enthusiastically mimicking Rick's famous "rocking" motion on there ! He had a huge smile on his face too ! And considering this 8 man band hadn't rehearsed together, they played together perfectly, the timing was spot on. Amazing ! ).

After that, Rick invited all the performers in the BOTB onto the stage, and made a point of shaking the hand of everyone. That was the end of the show, and the end of a very busy, but enjoyable day. The last of the night was spent in the bar, hanging out and discussing the show.

Friday 27 Aug

A beautiful sunny day, I was pleased to have got about 8 hours unbroken sleep. Into the theatre for 11am and the first of the band members "Clinics".

RZ was first on, wearing blue jeans, dark shirt and multi coloured jacket. He made a point at the start of thanking everyone for coming, and stating that the event was as much for the band as for the fans - they get a buzz out of it all too. The hour that followed turned out to be pretty much a Q&A, though it was nice to hear Robin talk so much. As many will know, Q&A sessions with the whole band turn out to be Rick answering most questions. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it was nice to get to hear "everyone" talk for an hour. Amongst RZs answers/comments:-

- the vocal on Rock all Night was layered 12 times

- in 1980 in Paris, the bass player of The Pretenders offered to replace Pete Comita ! The Sweet had sounded RZ out once, also Tommy Aldridge had approached RZ for a tour/album project

- as a kid RZ sang in bands and the school choir, and played Sax in Junior High School

- He commented that some people hadn't liked the previous nights covers set, but it was a taste of how they started out 25 years ago

- Tonight Its You is tough to sing live; Shelter is tough emotionally to do

- RZ had a car accident on Florida a while back, and whilst before he didn't need to warm up much before a show, now he warms up for an hour

- He recounted the famous story of their having a bad time with Be Bop Deluxe, how BBD pulled the plug on CT "during" a song, and how CT got their own back with superglue and stickers over every window ! They also didn't get on well with some of Rush's crew

- Jimmy Iovine was the guy who suggested RZ cover Show Me Heaven with Lone Justice singer Maria McKee (who had a #1 hit in England with the song)

- Would have been/would be nice to work with Jeff Beck, Keith Moon; admired Townsend and the Stones

- Man of 1000 voices. Dealing with a new song is like acting, to get "into" it

- Uses lots of different mics in the studio, but prefers Shure SM 57/58 standards

- Paul Westerburg and RZ wrote about 15 songs for Robins solo album

- Robin played a little bit of one of his solo songs, Whats Her Name , to show how in part it was a tribute to Buddy Holly

- He's always loved comics and animation, has a story to finish, which he wants to put onto the internet as an electronic comic book with audio. Hopes to publish in hard cover too

- Has been working on setting up a new magazine for vocalists, VoxBox

- Top Gun soundtrack is being re-released

- Fave album is the Best of the Move. He talked glowingly about Roy Wood

- Favourite CT experiences, the 1st and most recent album recordings

- Good producers include Jack Douglas and George Martin

- He brought on stage his daughter Holland, and sons Ian and Robin jnr.

- He displayed his guitars, a green 12 string Hamer, Rickenbacker, the new white Chandler telecaster with checkerboard trim and Cheap Trick on the head, the Flame guitar, and his Fender DeVille amp

- Robin jnr had a small Ludwig snare drum set up, but wouldn't play it. Instead, he played Robins guitar, and amazingly for a 6/7 year old, he played the opening bars of I Know What I Want, with proud Dad soon joining in to vocal ! That was up there with Cheap Track as one of the top 2 or 3 highlights for me !

At just after 12, Tom was due up. He started playing in the wings, and walked on stage, resplendent in green suit and black roll neck shirt. He proceeded to play bass for about 7-8 minutes, walking right across stage so that everyone could get a good picture or two. When he stopped, he got really funny, with his sharp wit, dry humour, and that "startled" look ! He said he had no idea how this was supposed to work, and it was a credit to the man that in keeping with the intimacy of TF3, he chose to sit informally on the front of the stage, legs dangling, and have a mic positioned to his side, so he could answer questions. He talked about the evolution of the 12 string bass guitar; that he had an 18 string made but the neck was too wide to be comfortable. He was asked why he'd moved to using Chandlers instead of Hamer... "because Hamers are... whats the right word? ... shit !" He dislikes travelling, but finds recording very satisfying. Thinks the WHO - Live at Leeds" is the greatest live album. Did the Barbara Waters Show with Julian Lennon because his band had visa problems. Hasn't got a home studio, just an 8 track machine for reference. Won't be vocalling any songs on the new. IKWIW was written specifically for Tom to sing. His influences are mainly from the British invasion eg the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. An entertaining hour finished around 1pm.

After a brief stop in the Theatre Lobby, it was time to grab lunch. Decided to order an entrée and personal pizza in the hotel restaurant. Whilst waiting for it to come, I decided to check the noticeboard and the rest of the days schedule. Nasty shock, Bun E's clinic was due to start at 2pm, not 2.30 pm. Others there obviously got it wrong too. Luckily we managed to get our pizza boxed, wolfed down the starter, and got back to our seats about 3 minutes late.

On the way back, we saw some bright person had renamed some of the corridors in the hotel. They were meant to be things like Bob Hope Drive and Kenny Rogers Road, but right by the theatre skywalk, the direction plaque proudly had the following taped over the real names:

- Tom Petersson Place

- Robin Zander Way

- Rick Nielsen Road

- Bun E Carlos Blvd

Somehow these names were far more fitting for these few days.. and maybe beyond!

Bun E had started, and as befits a man who regularly gives drum clinics, proceeded to give a very professional explanation of influences, drum licks etc, complete with demonstrations. Clad in a Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans, he was awesome. He did about 40 minutes of clinic, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A. He talked drums, Beatles, how he developed playing drums, about playing with people like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, and much more. His love of his art shone through. He did say that he literally has no licks to call his own, most drumming is lifted from other drummers, and there's probably been no new original licks for many decades. He talked/demonstrated the opening to Ain't That a Shame, and explained that the various parts came from:

- I Can See for Miles - The Byrds

- The End - Beatles

- The Move

- Happy Jack type roll - Keith Moon

- Lets Go - The Ventures (the first group he saw live)

- Dave Clark Five

- Keith Moon

- Rock'n'Roll pt 2 style - Gary Glitter

He also demonstrated the Flam Triplet, the beat for ELO Kiddies.

During the Q&A:

- at times, he moves one arm out of the way. Not to emphasise an upcoming beat, but just that at times its easier to drum using just the one arm

- Has about 10-20 hours of tapes from the bar days; has a few tapes of 77-78, but the 70's are pretty sparse. Started taping every night in 79, and probably has 98% of the shows since then on tape.

- Its tough to advertise live schedules, by mailshots or whatever.

- Worlds Greatest Lover was written in 77

- Epic want to revamp the Greatest Hits, to maybe include a live version of The Flame and maybe an unreleased track.

- Perhaps 2000 will see remasters of Dream Police, All Shook Up and Lap of Luxury, plus an 80s compilation. ....PERHAPS....

- His first kit was a Sonor, but the first kit that "he" bought was a Ludwig. He's had other sets since, but always gone back to Ludwig

- The band taped the covers show last night, and might sell a CD of it, but it depends on copyright.

- They didn't finish working on, or selling the TF2 tapes, because they were unhappy with them

- There was a huge party the night before the 88 Sydney show, on the Live in Australia video. The band all felt pretty bad the next day, show day !

- There is no way of marketing, selling or copying any of the live video tapes being shown the lounge.

All in all, an excellent and enlightening clinic.

Last but not definitely not least was Rick. He came on at 3pm, dressed in a brown hooped jacket, new "R's" shirt and black pants. He firstly thanked everyone for coming to TF3. He moved his chair close to the front of the stage, and ensured that no equipment was put in the way to impede the view of fans at either side of the stage. Later when asked about guitars, he asked two tech's to bring out the stands with guitars, and to ensure they were angled so that people could get good photographs. Both were nice touches from a man who truly appreciates the fans (as do the other band members BTW). Rick carried out a Q&A in his own humorous and inimitable style:

- the new guitar picks will include the R's design, on the new t-shirt. The design is in the shape of a guitar pick, made up of the letter "R" in different fonts. The design also includes his cartoon face.

- He said that his son's Daxx and Miles will play at the following nights Rockford show

- He still finds it fun to play shows

- The original Oh Claire has still never been recorded

- He has a small studio at home, and has tapes of his versions of almost all the songs he's written. Maybe one day he'll make them available.

- He liked one fan's "Ken Adamany Sucks" shirt ! The fan said maybe he should market them ? "No" said Rick, "Ken'll want a percentage!" (Ken Adamany was the bands manager up to 1995)

- The hidden track on the CT97 CD was Ricks idea (if you havn't head it, start track #1 and "go back" through the track to -3:56)

- He showed off his new white Gretch Penguin guitar, and handed it down to a fan to show around.

- Thinks online is cool. He goes online a lot, and said about having gone to a number of fans websites earlier that day.

- People still alive he'd most like to record with - Kim Gisborne and Danny Saint ! In terms of me, I'm sure he was kidding.. !

- Was asked about future British dates. None at present.

- He flicked a pick at Paul at the sound-desk some 30 yards away in the theatre stalls - and Paul caught it !

- Was asked about guitar strings, and got Sven to bring out various strings, which he then gave to Sushi Man in the crowd.

- Has 200 guitars currently

- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ? Who knows...

- Rick remembered Lisa J who'd fainted the other night. Answered her question, writes songs/music using piano or guitar, sometimes the lyrics come first, other times the music

- Ron PBG asked Rick to play some of the song Bite It, which he did to some hilarity !

- If he had to keep only 3 guitars, they'd be the 58 Les Paul with 59/60 pickup and 2 original Explorers

- CT have recorded 16/17 new songs for the next LP

- RN has just written liner notes for the Australian band, The Angels' new album

- TF4 will not take place in 2000, the band will be too busy

- He played the riff of Worlds Greatest Lover and Its All up to You

- He gave Sushi Man a new pair of his trademark checkerboard shoes, as Sushi had paid a fortune for a used pair at TF2

As always, a fun hour with Rick, and indeed, each of the clinics was special in its own way.

After a short break, we had the "TF3 Class of 99" photo. Instead of being done on stage as at TF2, it was shot FROM the stage. Mike Graham took a couple of test shots before getting the band to join the fans. Tom lay on the floor at right front, whilst I got hugged by a hot and sweaty guitar tech, Sven ! Lucky that I like the guy !!

As the techs and others started dismantling and packing the bands amps and equipment away, and the band themselves headed out to Rockford for a quiet night, Dave Frey, the bands manager took to the stage. Dave was a long time fan stretching back to early in the bands career, so ending up as their manager has meant that their interests are uppermost in his mind. And his love of the band, and concern for their affairs and future were extremely evident I thought. He held a 30-40 minute Q&A:

- They are still considering the record label situation

- Still working on a distributor for MFH in Europe and Australia.

- Talked about Red Ant going bust.

- No current plans for touring Australia or Europe, will consider doing so when things are "right"... when they can afford it seemed to be the unspoken answer

- Not too bothered about the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame

- The band are currently trying to reclaim their back catalogue from Epic

- MFH will be released on DVD and home video around Halloween

- CT would like to record again with Jack Douglas, maybe also with Julian Raymond (Cold Turkey)

- CT own the Columbus Virgin Megastore video, may consider releasing it

- CT will be at the Hard Rock Café on Sunset Blvd in LA on 28 Sept, for the debut of the 70's Show theme song. They've also just done a video shoot for it, with members of the cast. The song, In the Street may be released as a single, and perhaps a cameo appearance on the show if feasible.

- Touring expenses top $50,000 per week

- They are looking to a Found All the Video's, perhaps in 2000 if they can get the rights to the Warner Brothers material. They have "found" the 1976 Night Gallery footage, showing 5 songs from the debut album lip-synched.

- The Rockford show will have 9 video camera's filming it, also sound recording.

- Hopefully the first quarter of 2000 will see the new CD finalised, then touring. But he made a point of saying, they plan to "tour less, to mean more".

A very interesting session from a likeable guy, who seems to have CTs best interests at heart. We took a 20 minute break before the video.

At 6pm, we had the big screen lowered in the theatre, the full theatre sound system, and the premiere of the Music for Hangovers video (the DVD will have more footage, interviews etc). The set list was exactly as per the CD, but it was great to actually see (for those of us who were at Metro, to see again) the songs being played. It was helpful too that a small comment would appear at the start of each song, showing which day the performance was from. For a "home movie" as Dave Frey described it, it was incredible. The sound was superb, as were the visuals and I thought the atmosphere was just like "being there". Great to see the Billy Corgan dressed as RN footage, also D'Arcy in mesh shirt and cat ears.

After that, we ended up getting a meal in the hotel restaurant, before investigating the upstairs bar ! The sounds eminating from that small intimate place confirmed that the DJ had indeed been bribed (or threatened) and was playing wall to wall Cheap Trick ! Well, several songs got repeated, though that didn't stop the party hitting the dance floor and trying to lift the roof ! I called it a night at 1.30, big Rockford day only hours away, but the party was still in full swing when I left.

Sat 28 Aug

Up around 9am, and people were already checking/checked out, and heading for Rockford. With a friend, I left Merrillville around 11.25, on another hot morning. So off we drove, passing through Chicago on the skyway, and getting caught in slow moving traffic. We parked up OK in Rockford, and joined the line at Davis Park at 2.15, with maybe 30-40 people already in line. The first person had already been there since 8.30 am ! Wowah ! We were luckily in the shade of the Founders Landing Building in Davis Park, which had a large banner on the side, stating "Cheap Trick (giant logo) - The Silver Anniversary Concert. August 28, 1999 8pm . Davis Park. Tickets at MetroCentre Box Office". Very cool. There was also a banner outside the nearby Brewery bar, a Budweiser banner saying "Welcome Cheap Trick and fans !". We were lined up on one side of the building, the stage and seating/standing enclosures were on the other side.

pick13.jpg (43490 bytes)Temperatures were in the high 80's, phew. Soon after we got there, the drum choir congregated in the enclosure near us to practice Who d'King. Rick soon came out too, to direct the practice, and he encouraged us to sing along ! That was fun ! We also heard the choir and RZ and "mystery woman" practicing "Time Will Let You Know". I took a friend for a drink in the Brewery, and on the way back, we were on a street corner when we heard a car horn and this car pulls up. It was a cool 56 (?) T'bird, black with white trim, driven by Rick ! He asked what was happening, we said were looking forward to the show. He said he was looking forward to getting a shower at home! He drove off, only to stop at the next corner and briefly talk to more fans waiting to cross the road there! Cool!

Gates were supposed to open at 7pm, but by 6.30 the line stretched around the park and right across the bridge over the river. Amazing. So we got let in at 6.30. As promised, we had the front enclosure, with a second (and third ?), larger seating enclosure behind us, and then the standing area, plus bar tents, toilet cubicles etc. So all the TF3 attendees were closest to the stage, which was cool. The stage looked good, having checkerboard steps leading down the front, and a walkway/driveway leading through the crowd from it, clear of chairs. Obviously to be used for some reason. Bun E's drumkit had a big "25" and double CT logo on it, cool !

Cheap Trick took to the stage soon after 8pm for set #1, of a 3 hr, 3 set show that promised to play a song from every album. And it did, including Robins solo album and Found All the Parts.

RN- dark pinstripe suit, mysterious RN t-shirt

TP - mushroom coloured suit, beige t-shirt

RZ - white suit, sheer purple shirt

Bun E - Flowered blue shirt, black pants

Jon B - grey pants, grey/green shirt, black waistcoat, cap style hat

Tod H - black t-shirt, black pants

(Tod Howarth, keyboards for several years to the mid 90's, played through most of the evening)

Ain't That a Shame, I Want You to Want Me, Oh Candy, In the Street ("That 70's Show" song), Voices (w/ extra instrumental verse before the layered vocal), If You Want my Love (w/Jon Brant), She's Tight (w/Jon Brant - hearing it with keyboards again, I realised just why they chose to do without keys 3-4 years ago. This, like many others, sounds better WITHOUT keyboards. IMHO), Can't Stop Falling Into Love, Gonna Raise Hell

The band were obviously enjoying themselves, despite a few technical problems, and one or two almost missed cues eg RZ almost missed the start vocal of IWYTWM ! But hell, this was such a big show, so many songs, that we could forgive the odd glitch. This was hometown, and the guys were loving it... and so were we. Can you imagine, Gonna Raise Hell was only the closer for Set 1 of 3? Awesome !

The band took a well earned 10 minute break, during which I heard that there were loads of boats on the river, listening. Apparently, you could have crossed the river from boat to boat without getting wet !

For set 2, there were some clothes changes:

RN - wore a black Lennon t-shirt

TP - cream jacket, pale blue pants, pale pink t-shirt

RZ - Black suit, white t-shirt

The set started accoustic....

Can't Take it (w/Daxx Nielsen and Jonathon Marks - both from Harmony Riley - joining Bun E on percussion), Take Me to the Top (ditto), It All Comes Back to You (ditto, plus Ian Zander on ukelele), Tonight Its You, Time Will Let You Know (this was AWESOME). The Harlem High School Choir, RZ's old school, backed on this, plus 4 members of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra on strings, Daxx on drums, Ian Z, Miles Nielsen and others seated playing guitar, and lead vocals by Robin and his daughter Holland. Robin sounded amazing, and Holland both sounded and looked wonderful. There was some errant feedback during her verse, which made her look at Dad, who just took her hand and smiled. A beautiful moment, and a beautiful song. Robin dedicated it to his wife Pam, sidestage),

(shifting to Electric....)

Worlds Greatest Lover (Rick on vocal, and he dedicated this to his wife. Backed w/strings, sounded terrific), The Flame (w/strings), Stop This Game (w/strings), Dream Police (w/strings - AWESOME. Fantastic to hear this the way it sounded on record !).

Well, that was it for set 2... or was it ? Before the band left the stage, Tom took the mic and invited an Australian fan onto stage, with his g/f from Oregon, as he had a question to ask. Of course it was a marriage proposal, luckily (and tearfully) she said Yes, and there were hugs and handshakes all round. Steve asked Rick on mic if he knew of any good bands to play at the wedding .... !

Another 10-15 minute break before set 3. Many of us had stood in the "walkway" leading down from the stage up to this point, but we were now told by Security that the area had to be kept clear, so to go back to our seats.

The band reappeared for set 3 and the finale.

TP - Turquoise suit, red shirt

RZ - Gold suit, brown t-shirt

I Know What I Want, Woke Up With A Monster, Never Had A Lot to Lose, You're All Talk (w/Slash, wearing a black "R's" t-shirt, he broke a string on the first note and had to replace the guitar), I'm Losing You (before the song, Rick announced that Julian Lennon was invited to be here for this song, but unfortunately he had to be at a show in Nashville, so Miles Nielsen sang a verse), Hard to Tell, Oh Claire (intro), Surrender


Just Got Back (there were now two extra drumkits/drummers on stage, in addition to Bun E. The left hand kit (looking at the stage) had "Drum" on the drum head, the right side one had "Choir". Billy Corgan came on and played guitar on this. As he said at the end of the song, it was his "personal tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time"), Day Tripper (w/Daxx and Jonathon Marks on percussion, the band were joined on guitar and vocals by Art from Everclear), Who d'King (the show finale. Daxx took drums, the Phantom Drum Regiment walked on from both sides of the stage, Bun E directed the drum choir, Rick took vocals and the TF3 attendees in front wore or waved their Bun E masks! At the end, the beat went on and on, as the Drum Regiment led the band from stage down the front stage steps, and back into the crowd ! The band looked happy as they left the stage. The beat went on for maybe 3 minutes before Bun E appeared from sidestage to end it all up. An amazing show, difficult to describe the sheer energy, passion and excitement, and which I hope makes it onto video one day.

pick12.jpg (24011 bytes)After show saw people saying goodbyes, and I was lucky enough to be given a couple of passes to the after show event, at the nearby Paragon restaurant. On reaching the Paragon, it was packed, and I was lucky to get a booth... only for Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain and their party to come and sit in the next booth ! They were fine, I just kept looking up and seeing the top of Billys head opposite me ! Dave Frey told us that tonights show had been a 15,000 sellout. Cheap Track played a great 30 minute set. I know Billy Corgan went to take a look at one point, and I overheard Rick telling someone else that they were terrific. Their set List was: Hello There, ELO Kiddies, Can't Take It, Taxman, Hot Love, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen. They sounded great ! They were performing in a really tight area near the door, so didn't have much room to move around.

We left Rockford around 2.45 and that was it, the end of four Trick packed days. Awesome, amazing, tiring, fun..... how many other words can be used ? It was a wonderful time, and I won't even try to list the people I met. I'm just sorry I didn't get more time to spend with many of them. As always, the warmth and camaraderie of the Trick fans (from around the world) made Trickfest and Rockford feel very warm, friendly and memorable. Thanks to every one of the fans there, for making it a very special Fest. HUGE THANKS to Cheap Trick for giving themselves to us for 4 memorable days, Carla for organising, and also Sven and the crew, and those other helpers, John C, Mindy and Jenny, John G, and the assorted Zanders and others doing merchandise !

I spent 6 lazy days recovering from all the Trick activities in Wisconsin before my journey home on Friday/Saturday. It was long and hot. 3 hr coach from Madison, 8 hr flight into Amsterdam, (no sleep), 2 hr wait, hour flight to Leeds Airport, half hour wait to discover my suitcase (complete with new CT shirts, CD etc etc) hadn't turned up. Bah. Had to complete a form, during which time I missed my bus to Leeds centre. Next one, 2 1/2 hrs..... Took a taxi, the taxi driver argued all the way that he couldn't accept a personal cheque. I ended up emptying my pockets, and he took a cheque just for the balance. Ended up sleeping 16 hrs straight overnight, so I missed my suitcase being delivered to a neighbour. But it arrived OK, and so ended another very memorable Trick trip.

Kim Gisborne - Sept, 1999

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