I’d last seen the band in mid-March in Austin/Oklahoma, and things were as crazy-busy as ever in my job. Since my contract expires at the end of July, it’s a case of getting in as much work as possible before then. In addition, it would be impossible to take any time off in June or July, which pretty much knocks out any of the summer Sgt Pepper, Squeeze or Blondie shows. I therefore decided I’d try to take one day off and take in two CT-only shows on a short weekend trip. In addition, I should get a few hours to revisit Washington DC, which I’d not visited in 9-10 years. So let’s get going.
Friday 21 May - travelling there, and CT in Fredericksburg VA
An early morning start as usual, and I found myself at Manchester Airport, as usual. However, the “usual” ended there. I’d hunted flights long and hard, as I needed to get to DC as early as possible since I was flying on show-day. Ouch, I hate doing that but needs must… I couldn’t get anything reasonable using Delta/Air France/KLM, the Skyteam alliance with whom I have Platinum status. Instead, my best affordable and timings-option was flying Continental and United, part of Star Alliance with whom I now have no status! Yes, I can imagine many readers rolling their eyes at this frequent flyer crap… but really, you do get used to priority seating, early boarding and all that stuff. Anyway, my Continental flight from Manchester took off at 10am, I was seated near the back, and had the seat in front of me reclined in my face for most of the 7 hr flight to New York-Newark. That’s always nice. Immigration took ages, as I ended up in line behind two separate Swedish families who had to re-write their immigration forms, at the officers desk <sigh> I eventually got through and changed terminal for my United Express flight to Washington Dulles. The tiny plane left a bit late, landing at some remote part of Dulles at 3.50pm.
I got my rental car, and luckily had brought my GPS so found my way to my airport hotel. Check-in, quick shower and out again by 5.15pm. I zoomed down route 28 for about a mile before hitting snails-pace traffic :-( The Washington rush hour… on a Friday afternoon. I had about 70 miles to go to Fredericksburg, with CT due on at 8.15pm. Surely I could get there in 3 hours? Well, I did it with about 45 minutes to spare, though it was very frustrating. How can people live and drive on the East Coast, it’s crazy. The event at Fredericksburg wasn’t signposted in any way, but my pre-trip research paid off and I finally found the outdoor park/venue on the outskirts of town.
I parked up and walked to the entrance at about 7.20pm just as the opening act (The Willows) were finishing their set. Got in OK, and happily in time for the show, which started after the usual audio montage.
CT came on at 8.10pm
RN- black suit, black &
white patterned shirt, bow tie
Way of the World, Come On Come On, (RN guitar solo intro to…) California Man, Miracle, I Want You to Want Me, These Days, Baby Loves to Rock, Heaven Tonight, On Top of the World, 70’s Song, Need Your Love, Miss Tomorrow, (RN guitar solo intro to…) Ballad of TV Violence, Sick Man of Europe, Closer (The Ballad of Burt & Linda), The Flame, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now (with 3 endings)
It was a lovely, warm evening, very pleasant for an outdoor show, though as the evening progressed and the sky darkened, more insects were attracted by the stage lights!
The show started with three songs in a row, and after “California Man” Rick reminded the crowd that “Just in case you’re not sure, we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes Cheap Trick!” He also asked “Is everyone alright tonight?” before the band went into “Miracle” and the usual crowd pleasing “IWYTWM”. After that, Rick asked “Did I mention we’re called Cheap Trick?”, just in case no-one had realised by now! He also commented on the “fine looking crowd”, and the new album “The Latest”. After “These Days”, Rick did a little solo including a bit of the “Taxman” riff before going into an energetic “Baby Loves to Rock”. The band was in fine form, and the crowd was enjoying the show on a lovely evening.
After some spiel from Rick about Tom’s birthday party I think – “Tom lives in Nashville, so his party was attended by the stars… like Trisha Yearwood’s guitar tech!” - he introduced the band members, and then introduced the next song as being from the “Heaven Tonight” album. The band went into a wonderful version of the title song. “On Top of the World” had a long intro, I think Robin may have missed a cue to start though no harm done. That was followed by “That 70’s Song” and a stunning “Need Your Love” (first time I’ve heard this one in a few years). Afterwards, Rick remarked “Thank you. “Live at Budokan” is over 30 years old…we did it when we were two! And thank you for making “The Latest” the number 1 selling 8-track in the world!”
The set continued with “Miss Tomorrow”. Rick then did a solo guitar intro, including the “Oh Boy” riff, into the “Ballad of TV Violence”. That’s always intense, and afterwards Rick noted “A nice little ballad!” That was followed by “Sick Man of Europe”, with Robin performing vocal gymnastics and Tom performing wonders in his peacock bass. The song may be short, but it’s certainly a cool 2.5 minutes. Next was “Closer: The Ballad of Burt & Linda” which to my mind is becoming a monster in the setlist, with its wonderful extended ending, Rick’s slide guitar solo etc. The main set finished with two crowd pleasers, “The Flame” followed by “Surrender”. Before leaving the stage, Robin thanked the crowd “Thank you very much, we’re Cheap Trick. Thanks for hanging out with us, we’ll see you down the road apiece, goodnight”.
A couple of minutes later, Rick was first to return to the stage, asking the crowd “Does that mean you want to hear some more?” (answered with a very loud YES!!) then twice asking “Are you SURE you want to hear some more?” Yes, the crowd was sure, and so the encore began. It started with “Dream Police”. Tom then did a brief solo including a bit of “Within You Without You” before starting up the wonderful “Auf Wiedersehen”, which segued right into “Goodnight Now” with 3 endings.
The show ended at 9.44pm, and a very nice show it had been on a pleasant and warm evening. I hung around for a short while to talk with various fan friends before heading out. I was driving back up to my Dulles airport hotel, to round off a very long and busy day. Luckily the roads were quieter at 10pm than they had been just a few hours earlier, and I got back to my hotel at 11.40pm. It was a pleasure to fall into bed after a hectic 25 hour travelling day.
Saturday 22 May - CT in Ashburn, VA
The morning was overcast, and I did a little shopping during the day before heading from the hotel around 3.10pm to find the Loudon/Ashburn venue a little north of Washington Dulles Airport. It was a little confusing to find, but I eventually found the field near the Country Club at 3.40pm. Amazingly, I wasn’t the first there, about a dozen or so people were parked and sitting in their cars. It was spitting rain when I arrived and parked, and had become harder by 4.30pm :-( Harder and persistent.
People were allowed in at 5pm, with the first opening band on at 6pm and they played in the persistent rain. The stage was pretty much a large field, with a reserved area of uncovered seating in front for those who’d purchased VIP tickets. Far more important today though were umbrellas and rain jackets, and I must admit to fearing for the show as the rain continued. The gusting breeze blew water onto the stage, and well, it didn’t look good. The second opening band went on at 6.48pm and played to 7.30pm. Thankfully the rain eased up as they finished their set, giving the techs a chance to dry the front of the stage.
CT came on at 8.16pm
RN- black suit, plain
white shirt, bow tie,
Way of the World, Come On Come On, (RN guitar solo intro to…) California Man, Miracle, I Want You to Want Me, These Days, Baby Loves to Rock, Heaven Tonight, On Top of the World, 70’s Song, Need Your Love, Miss Tomorrow, Ballad of TV Violence, Sick Man of Europe, Closer (The Ballad of Burt & Linda), The Flame, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now (with 3 endings)
The show opened with “Way of the World”, and whilst the wet and bedraggled crowd was not as large as it would have been had it been dry, they were certainly enthusiastic and pleased to see the headliners. It was still raining, but only lightly. The set continued with “Come On Come On”, then a Rick solo guitar intro into “California Man”. After that, Rick said “Thank you very much. If it rains even harder, don’t worry, WE’RE covered!” he joked. “Well, if it rains harder, we’ll invite you all on stage! We have a new CD, DVD, 8-track, our 28th or 29th… we still call them “records”… we’re too dumb to quit! Here’s Robin on the Mandocello” - the band went into “Miracle”.
Next up was “IWYTWM” with Rick having to change guitar mid-song. Afterwards, he introduced the band, ending with “Magic Christian on keyboards. Hey Magic, is it your birthday today? How old are you? 39?!” The band continued with “These Days”, and then an energetic “Baby Loves to Rock”. At the end of that, Rick gave his guitar to a fan in front. Despite the poor weather, the band were putting on a nice show and not worrying about the light rain blowing onto the front of the stage, or the water dripping down further back on the stage from the roof. However, the techs had to keep unobtrusively running on throughout the show and wipe off the worst of the water off key parts of the stage.
“Heaven Tonight” was deep and intense as always, and during it the rain became heavier again. The weather echoing the sombre mood of the song perhaps. The tempo lightened and increased, with “On Top of the World” and “That 70’s Song” continuing the set. During the next break, Robin’s young daughter and I carried a large birthday cake onto the stage to surprise birthday boy Magic Christian with. He was pretty shocked I think! We managed to get the cake on, get him to blow out the candles, and get the cake back off stage without any mishaps, thankfully.
The band started up “Need Your Love”, and the front of the stage was very wet. Luckily, neither Rick nor Robin went too close to the edge. After that song, Rick spoke again “I wasn’t joking about the 8 track. We’d like to thank each and every one of you for helping make it #1 in the world! Every week around the world, Cheap Trick is #1! The album, cassette etc are very close behind! And if you go to our website you’ll see lots of stuff you’ve seen before!” Someone shouted something from the crowd to which Rick replied “Of course you’ll get a free player with it!” By now the rain had eased up but was still dripping onto various parts of the stage.
The set continued with “Miss Tomorrow”, then “Ballad of TV Violence”. Rick’s tech must have wondered why he bothered, as mid-song, he wiped the floor again in front of the steps. Rick immediately took his cup of iced water and threw it over the just wiped area! Next was “Sick Man of Europe”, after which someone from Europe was brought onto the stage by Rick and made to say a few words. One day I’ll actually say something vaguely interesting… Next was “Closer: The Ballad of Burt & Linda”, followed by “The Flame” and “Surrender”. Robin thanked the crowd for coming out to see Cheap Trick before leaving the stage.
Rick returned to the stage, asking the crowd “Does that mean you want to hear some more?” (answered with a very loud YES!!). “Are you SURE you want to hear some more?” (Again, YES!!) As the rain came down harder, the band played “Dream Police”, “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Goodnight Now” with 3 endings. The show ended at 9.51pm.
It had been a miserable afternoon and evening for the crowd, well, for those who didn’t have really good rain gear. The rain had kept falling from mid afternoon, at times very hard, and I guess it would have been an understandable decision if the show had cancelled before Cheap Trick came on. However, the rain had lightened 45 minutes before they took to the stage, and despite getting harder during their set, the band played the complete show and didn’t hold back in any way because of the weather. Bravo to both the hardy crowd and to the band and their crew for keeping the show going.
After the show I met up with a couple of friends, Kenny & Missy from Florida at a nearby brewpub, and we ate and caught up. That was very cool. If you have the foldout “Silver CD”, Kenny is the guy in the checkerboard shirt looking cool and calm almost next to me in that crowd picture. It was still raining hard when we left the pub at 12.30am, the last folks in the joint.
Sunday 23 May - Monday 24 May (sightseeing in Washington DC and travelling home)
As usual I was awake early, despite not wanting to be. I checked out of the hotel at 8.30pm, as my flight out of Dulles wasn’t until almost 7pm. I was therefore using the day to sightsee in Washington DC, something I hadn’t done in 8 or 9 years. The morning was dull and drizzly, which wasn’t very promising. I parked at the Vienna Metro station and took the metro into DC. Thankfully it wasn’t raining in the capital city, though it was damp, humid and warm. What can I say? I walked and walked for hours. From L’Enfant Plaza I went into the wonderful National Air & Space Museum, the new Museum of Native Americans (very nice), the front of the Capitol and up past the FBI building. Had a quick lunch in the Hard Rock Café, but no Cheap Trick on display. Then up to and around The White House, the World War II Memorial, down past all the ducks and duckling on the Reflecting Pond and up to the Lincoln Memorial. Down past the Vietnam Memorial and to Foggy Bottom Metro station in the spitting rain. Although I’d checked out, my hotel was kind enough to allow me to quickly use the shower in their fitness room, so a big thumbs up to the Hilton Dulles Airport! I felt much better having showered and in clean and dry clothes, and so I was back to drop off the rental car and get to the airport. The check-in for Continental was a shambles but I eventually managed to do so. The security lines were long and slow, and it eventually took me an hour to check-in and get through security.
My flight from Dulles to Newark left 30 minutes late, but I had plenty of time in hand before my connection to Manchester. After a 2.5 hr layover, my flight to Manchester left Newark at 10.30pm, and I tried to doze through the night hours, mostly unsuccessfully. Landed at overcast Manchester at 10am and was home by 12.15pm.
As always, I must thank Cheap Trick and Carla for their kindness. In addition, thanks to the old and new friends I spent time with at the two shows.
Kim Gisborne - Leeds, England , May 2010
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