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Return to the Pacific Northwest – March 2003

Feelings of déjà vu… I was here only two months ago, except the shows I’d booked to see then had been postponed. But thanks to frequent flier points, I was able to book to return for the rearranged dates, and a short but intense, 3 night, 3 show weekend trip!

Friday 28 March – Flying Over & Cheap Trick in Sequim, Washington

The trip started off in style on what was to prove to be a marathon day… As usual it was an early start because of having to fly to Amsterdam and connect with the flight to Vancouver. However, that was offset by the fact that these were "free" flights, using some of my accumulation of Flyer Points that I’ve barely touched in the past few years. A few weeks ago KLM had a special offer on Business Class flights to 4 destinations including Vancouver (lucky for me!), with 50% less Points needing to be used. So, I bought my round trip using Points, though did have to pay around £80 (US$125) in taxes. I was out of my house by 4.15am and checked in at Leeds/Bradford soon after 5am. The short flight got me to Amsterdam OK, and mid morning I was settled into the front cabin of my KLM plane for Vancouver… I could get used to such luxury! I tried to relax since it would be such a long day, watching movies, reading, and consuming the food and drink that kept coming my way! The flight still took almost 10 hours but at least it was much more comfortable than usual!

Had a few glimpses through cloud breaks of some spectacular snow capped peaks a little north of Vancouver as we descended, and I had a fine view of the city as we turned inland and flew over it before doing a 180 degree turn towards the airport. After checking the weather forecasts in the few days before I left, I was pleased to see that Vancouver was dry, though overcast. I was first off the plane and hopeful that I’d quickly get to meet Californian fan Victoria OK in the arrivals hall, and we’d make the 3pm ferry across to Port Townsend. The hope died in me as I got into the immigration hall to see long lines of new arrivals, with flights from Japan and Korea having arrived shortly before mine. And since I was in a hurry, I managed to choose the slowest line <sigh>… I watched as nearby lines with passengers from my flight moved along far quicker than mine. It took over 45 minutes before I got through immigration, but the fun didn't stop there… The Customs officer picked me out to have my bags fully emptied and searched, whilst asking questions about my job, purpose of visit, how long I'd been in Amsterdam (about 2 hours), what I did there (sat in the Business Lounge), had I ever done drugs (no)… It was quite the inquisition, and at the end he explained that as a man travelling alone from/through Amsterdam I was of interest to them. Funny, I've flown into the USA probably 20 times through Amsterdam (one of Europe's main hub airports) and have never been stopped once. I don't know if its anything to do with tighter security with the Iraqi war on, or whether Canada has drug smuggling problems from Europe… Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with Customs or other security having to do their job, particularly in these extra-security conscious days. But on a day with a tight schedule this took another 25 minutes of the time alloted to drive to the ferry, though by now it was clear that the 3pm sailing was impossible to achieve.

Victoria was waiting for me in Arrivals when I finally "entered" Canada. We drove the 30 miles south to the US border, only to find long, slow moving lines of cars at the Peace Arch crossing. Of course it took an age to reach the booths, then I had to go inside and complete a visa waiver form. By now we were gunning for the 4.30pm ferry from Keystone to Pt Townsend, and getting caught in slow traffic on Whidbey Island meant that we didn't reach the small, remote ferry terminal until 4.20pm… and ended up 12 cars away from being on that sailing. We had to kill another hour and a half before we finally got onto the 6pm ferry for the 30 minute crossing. As we drove to Sequim, we saw hills of spruce and the snowy peaks of the Olympic Mountains in the fading light.

We reached the 7 Cedars Casino (actually at a tiny place called Blyn) around 7.20pm, and doors were already open for the show. It was a GA but seated arrangement, with the first two rows reserved. A couple of friends from Seattle and Portland (thanks Lori and Shannon!) kindly saved seats right on the end of row 4 on Ricks side. That gave quite a side view as the rows of seating extended well beyond each side of the stage. The room was a large, square bingo hall with flat seating and bar areas to the rear. Good to meet up with a few other fans, including old friends Junko from Japan, Lorena from California (with whom I'd stayed on my first visit to Tacoma and Seattle in 2000) and Laura from Colorado, also Genelle (from S Dakota I believe). The ceiling had a sort of checkerboard effect with black squares and recessed lights in white squares. The stage was nice sized and carpeted, and the crowd was around 1500 I guess. It was certainly crowded, and considering we were in the middle of nowhere I wondered where they had all come from! It wasn’t as if this was a particularly large casino. Out on the Casino lobby there were a couple of cool posters/signs for tonight's show, featuring the latest promo photo of the band.

There was no opening act, and Cheap Trick came on stage at 8.36pm, and the crowd was standing from the start. The fashion report was "Men in Black"!

RN – black suit, black design t-shirt

RZ – black suit, black tie, black shirt

TP – black pants, black shirt, long black leather jacket

BC – black t-shirt, black jeans

Setlist was:-

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, Wrong All Along, I Know What I Want, I Want You To Want Me, Pop Drone, She’s Tight, My Obsession, Voices, Ain’t That A Shame, Southern Girls, Surrender // The Flame, Dream Police, Goodnight Now

It was a nice show with an enthusiastic crowd. As has been recent tradition, Rick introduced "If You Want My Love" as being from "one of the finest movies ever made, Joe Dirt". Before "Pop Drone", Rick remarked how Sequim (pronounced "Squim") sounds better than it looks on paper… (uh… I don't understand that one either! <g>) and then mentioned the new CD which is apparently due out in late April. Robin’s vox cut out for the first line of verse two of "She’s Tight", he got confused and was a line behind for two lines before Rick mouthed him back on track for the chorus. Before "My Obsession" Rick mentioned that Bun E would be involved in a world record drumming event in Tacoma tomorrow with hundreds of other drummers. And at the end of the show, "Goodnight Now" had a long, extended ending.

The show ended just before 9.50pm, and Lori, Shannon, Victoria, Junko and myself had a late dinner in one of the buffet restaurants before driving the 5 miles to the hotel in Sequim to check into the Ramada Hotel. By the time we got there it was after midnight, and my day felt like it had lasted about 50 hours! I think I was asleep within moments of my head hitting the pillow!

Saturday 29 March – Cheap Trick in Tacoma, Washington

I awoke early and took a cup of coffee out into the parking lot, to get some fresh air and help wake me up. Interesting to see a large wall in the car park painted with a large depiction of The Last Supper… Saw a van with a couple of cool, home printed, laminated signs that announced that the occupants were seeing Cheap Trick! And on my way back to the room I ran into the family from Tacoma whose van that was. Dad wearing the Cheap Trick t-shirt was the giveaway! Nice to chat a little with them about last nights show. Had an impromptu breakfast with Lori, Shannon and Victoria which included some of the 4 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts that Lori had bought for me!

We left Sequim around 9am and headed south to Tacoma. It was a dry and mostly bright morning and we had some stunning views of the snow capped Olympic Mountains off to our right, also some beautiful coastline. We reached the small Tacoma Narrows Airport around noon, where many drummers were already unloading and setting up their kits for the world record attempt. The setting was a service hanger for light aircraft, in which probably 150+ drumsets were already set up, and many more were setting up outside on the tarmac apron in front of the hanger. Luckily it was a dry day, and in fact it became quite warm. Bun E soon arrived, looking relaxed in a Hollister 2000 black t-shirt and jeans. He was one of a handful of "celebrity" drummers playing, others being Alan White (Yes), Michael Deroisier (Heart) and Jeff Kathan (Paul Rodgers Band). Bun E was playing a cool Ludwig "Ringo" set, which was in great condition. The celebrity drummers were lined up at the front of the hanger, with a small raised platform in front from which announcements were made. At 1.40pm the world record attempt began, led by Gerard Schwartz, Conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The drummers played a simple 4 bar (I think) beat simultaneously for 6 minutes, and the noise was both awesome and deafening! With 337 drummers of all ages taking part, the previous record of 120 drummers wasn’t so much beaten as totally smashed! And money was raised from the event for polio research, so it was all for a good cause too.

(Additional Note: The www.bennettdrums/b/bennettdrumstudio/ website says that the number of drummers was 266, though 337 was announced on the day. There were some no-shows though, so I guess 266 is the new world record! That website also has some video clips that can be downloaded).

We headed into Tacoma to book into our hotel, and got a 19th floor room with a spectacular view of Mt Rainier. I think it was a quiet weekend for the hotel, it certainly seemed that way. We then drove past various docks until we reached the Emerald Queen Casino 2-3 miles away. The casino was built on a dockside, but also had a small paddleboat with both dining and gambling on board. The music venue was on land, a large hall built to the side of the casino. It was a large room with a flat, single level floor and black slanted roof. The stage was wide, and there was a large American flag hanging off the lighting balcony to the rear.

The band had a brief soundcheck, in which they worked a little on one of the new songs, "Best Friend". This was a nice surprise, I’d never heard this song and I’m not sure if it had ever been played live before.

A group of fans had dinner in the buffet on the paddleboat before doors opened at 7pm for the show venue, good to see Charli and Ken from Seattle, Flis and Allysa from LA, Dawn and her brother Derek from Portland, as well as friends from the previous evening. The merchandise booth by the hall doors was certainly busy right up to show time, but it was fun to help out on that before and after show. Unlike last night, this show was reserved seating, and our designated seats were in row 3 but again way off to the side of the stage on Rick’s side. The show was a sellout, with over 1,550 seats sold.

Again there was no support, and Cheap Trick took to the stage at 8.17pm, after an introduction and numerous announcements from the venue manager and someone from the local radio station. But the "proper" announcement was made as usual by Dave Rule, Rick’s guitar tech, asking the crowd to "welcome the best f***in’ band this town has seen!"… and then the band came on stage.

RN – shiny bronze suit with black pinstripes, John Candas t-shirt

RZ – brown striped suit, white shirt worn with open neck

TP – deep pink shirt, black pants, long black velvet jacket

BC – black t-shirt, black jeans

Setlist was:- Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, Wrong All Along, I Know What I Want, I Want You To Want Me, Best Friend, She’s Tight, My Obsession, Voices, Ain’t That A Shame, Southern Girls, Surrender // Dream Police, Goodnight Now

After "Wrong All Along" Rick mentioned that Bun E had taken part on the world record earlier in the day, which prompted Bun E to do a short repeat of that drumbeat. "I Know What I Want" saw a long intro by Tom before the familiar opening riff. After "My Obsession" Rick pointed out two of the celebrity drummers in row 2 on Tom's side, and wanted someone sidestage to get them beer. Then he pointed out an older couple in the second row centre, who were still seated - most of the hall were standing. Rick asked if they were enjoying themselves, if they'd like to come on stage, and if they were enjoying the show! I was watching the show from sidestage and Robin came over to Rick's side of the stage after the second verse of "Surrender" and feigned as if to let me sing the third verse! Ha! That would have ended the show early if I had! After the end of "Surrender", Rick opened his jacket to display the John Candas t-shirt he was wearing. When they came back on stage for the encore, cool to see Rick give his cup of water to Ken in the second row centre, despite the woman in front of him trying to get it. Rick was very sure that he wanted Ken to have it! However, Robin tried to give his cup away to people in front of both Tom and Rick, and no one would take it! "The Flame" was on the setlist for the encore, but instead the band started up "Dream Police", during which Rick dropped a few picks down a woman's top at front stage before the rest of the picks went into the crowd. The show ended at 9.22pm, a good show and enthusiastic crowd but a short performance.

After leaving the casino some time after the show, a few of us had drinks and later an impromptu tailgate party outside which saw a few more of the 4 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts eaten! Didn't end up going to bed until around 1am, and again I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Sunday 30 March – Cheap Trick in Vancouver, Canada

An early start to the day, I was up at 7.30am and Victoria, Junko and I were on the road around 9am. The day was dry but mostly overcast, though we could still see a lot of Mt Rainier as we headed up towards Seattle and beyond. We made the stop at Krispy Kreme in Burlington, great that they located it so close to I-5! Free hot donuts and coffee, breakfast of Kings… well, of travelling CT fans anyway! Despite having an American, a Japanese and a Briton in one car, we got back into Canada painlessly. The immigration people at the border were aware that CT were playing in Vancouver later on. And soon after we crossed the border it started raining…

On arrival in Vancouver we checked into our respective hotels - Junko at HoJo, Victoria and I at the nearby triple towered Sheraton Wall Centre. Our room on the 24th floor gave quite a view. We all walked the 3-4 blocks to The Commodore Ballroom in the rain, and then on to a White Spot a couple of blocks further, where we had mid-afternoon lunch. Luckily the Commodore has a marquee over the front door, so there was some cover whilst fans waited for doors to open at 7.30pm.

The band came in for soundcheck late in the afternoon, starting a little before 6pm and playing an electric version of "Oh Caroline", before Rick, Tom and Robin played about half of "Love Comes".

The ballroom itself was on the first floor, so fans coming in had to climb up a long flight of stairs to reach it. It was a really nice room, the stage was wide and deep, and in front was a large sprung wooden dance-floor (one of only a small number of sprung dance floors left in North America I believe). There was a bar to the rear, and to the sides were 2 low levels of seating, either tables and chairs or booths. Above the bar to the rear was a flat balcony with seating, and on both sides of the spacious room were tall, round arched windows.

Doors opened on time, and most of the crowd who came in at the start headed for the tables and booths, not front stage. But by the time the opening act came on at 8pm, there was a healthy crowd on the dance-floor. The Anniversary, played for half an hour, and whilst they didn't really do anything for me, they were a competent enough band.

Cheap Trick came on at a minute after 9pm to a very enthusiastic welcome.

RN – shiny bronze suit with black pinstripes, black Piece t-shirt

RZ – brown striped suit, white shirt

TP – deep pink shirt, black pants, long black velvet jacket

BC – black t-shirt, black jeans

Setlist was:- Hello There, Hot Love, If You Want My Love, Wrong All Along, I Know What I Want, I Want You To Want Me, Best Friend, Never Had A Lot To Lose, My Obsession, Stop This Game, Borderline, Ain’t That A Shame, Southern Girls, Surrender // The Flame, Dream Police, Goodnight Now

Great to see a longer setlist, and with a number of different songs too. After "I Want You To Want Me" Rick mentioned the world record that Bun E had been involved in, which prompted the "Bun E chant" from the crowd. Bun E was in the dark at the rear of the stage, the lighting on him was very poor throughout the show, and Rick remarked "Yes, he IS back there!". That prompted Bun E to borrow a maglite from his tech and shine it on his face just to prove it. Cool to hear "Best Friend" again, a dark, heavy and brooding song, and Robin really has to scream through it. I can't imagine it'll be a regular in the setlist in the coming months because of the strain on Robin's voice, but who knows? After "Lot To Lose", Rick worked the crowd, getting different parts of the room to cheer! Of course the dance-floor was the loudest!

It was a great, high energy show from the band, who fed off the enthusiastic Vancouver crowd. The usual post-show CD of different cover versions of "I Want You To Want Me" was played over the house system as the stage was being cleared, and interesting that a lot of people stayed and sang along with a couple of the versions. I've never seen that happen before.

Victoria and I later caught up with Flis, Allysa, Dawn and Derek in a nearby bar, where Flis and Dawn were both taking alcoholic advantage of the unusual situation of not having to drive home after a concert! We stayed and had a drink before heading back to the Sheraton around 12.15am, as I had a long day ahead tomorrow.

Monday 31 March to Tuesday 1 April – The Journey Home

Monday morning saw a 10am start, a little later than planned (we'd had breakfast in the hotel and I then thought I'd lost my passport), before heading out of downtown Vancouver and to the airport. It was cool, overcast but dry when we parked up, and I checked in quickly and painlessly. Travellers through Vancouver Airport beware, they charge a departure tax. Domestic flights incure a $5 charge, to the US is $10, and other international is $15. Said my goodbyes to Victoria, who was going to heading south for the Eugene and Portland shows, and I went through to Security. Joined a long and slow line, and again they were very thorough. No time to relax in the Air Canada Lounge, as it was by now almost time to board my KLM flight. By this time the weather in Vancouver was back to normal… it was raining!

It was another long flight over the Atlantic, eight and a half hours. As I was going to be going straight into the office I decided to try to sleep, but despite being able to recline the Business Class seat far more than in the main cabin, I dozed only fitfully through the short night. Reached Amsterdam OK, dozed in the Lounge there before getting my flight to Leeds/Bradford, and arrived in Leeds mid-morning during a heavy downpour. Welcome home! I can tell you I wasn't very productive at work for the rest of the day!


As always, there are many thanks to give. First of all, huge thanks to Victoria for kindly offering the seat in her "Trickmobile", driving and for her general kindness during the trip! Thanks to Junko for being a fun travel companion and putting up with my lousy Japanese! Thanks to all the good friends and people I met, it's always a big part of why I travel to shows! And last but never least, thanks to Cheap Trick, Carla and the guys in the crew. It was good to see you all again! And now you can have a break from me for a couple of months! J

Kim Gisborne, Leeds, England. 2 April 2003


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