IN THE MILE HIGH CITY AND ON THE SANTA
August 7th saw me setting out again to
see some Cheap Trick shows, this time on my first trip to Colorado and Santa Fe. With the
British summer being cool, damp and changeable, I was both hoping for good weather as well
as three great Trick shows. Strange to be setting out just 4 weeks after getting back from
shows in California and Vegas
guess those kickbacks to my boss (and my credit card
company) must be working!
Ill try to spare you too much detail of the travelogue this time, and try to concentrate on just the shows! However, my entry into the United States at Minneapolis/St Paul was interesting. The immigration official asked "Purpose of visit?". "Ive come in to see some concerts" I replied. "Yeah? Who?" he asked. "Cheap Trick". "They played a free show here about a month ago that Rick Nielsen is always flying through here" he said! I told him that I fly to the US to see shows because they rarely play Europe and he expressed surprise. "Great album, that Live at Budokan" he said as he stamped my passport and allowed me into the Land of the Free. Best welcome the INS have ever given me
Also experienced the usual travel disaster, this time a 2 hour delay caused by our almost taking off in a faulty plane for the 2 hour hop to Denver. Had to go back to the terminal at MSP and get onto a replacement aircraft. It was dusk by the time we landed at Denver, and my day was completed by discovering a "problem" with my credit card which almost lost me my hotel room It all ended OK, but I was glad to sink into bed that night.Was up early next day (Tues 8th Aug) like at 4.30am. I couldnt get back to sleep. So I got up and drove out at around 6am to get my bearings whilst the roads were quiet. The sun was rising as I drove downtown along Colfax Ave. Drove out to Mile High Stadium and the new stadium being built alongside it, then back to see Coors Field. The day became increasingly hot and sunny (every day of my trip was sunny with temperatures in the mid 90s), and I did more tourist stuff. This included walking to the State Capitol and climbing the stairs to the top, to get fine panoramic views of the nearby Rockies as well as the sprawl of metropolitan Denver. Headed down 16th Street Mall too, a lively and entertaining street with outdoor entertainment, street cafes etc. Headed back to my room during the afternoon, and stayed in to get an early night and watch baseball on TV. Darn, I could have gone to see the Rockies beat the Pirates at Coors Field DOH! Ended up going back out and having a late supper with another fan (Steph) whod arrived from Boston mid evening.
WEDNESDAY 9th AUGUST OGDEN THEATRE, DENVER (CO)
Another hot day. Up early, and out in line at the US Mint downtown by 7.50am. Like I wouldnt be in line enough later in the day! Well, the wait was only 25 minutes before I was allowed in to see where a vast number of US currency coins, from pennies up to dollar coins are made. An interesting and free tour, made all the more worthwhile by the free samples! OK Im kidding, they "didnt" give us each a roll of quarters! Watching all the coins spill into large wheeled bins, I thought I was back in Vegas!Had brunch with Steph at Wendys on Denvers "colourful" Colfax Ave, just a block from the Ogden Theatre (venue of the show). We were lucky, just two minutes after wed got our order, the power went off. So we sat and ate, surrounded by about 20 Wendys staff who couldnt work. A little weird. We finally finished to find that an area of several blocks had lost power, and police were directing the traffic on the busy Colfax Ave. The theatre was affected too, though had a backup generator. The band arrived for soundcheck a little after 4pm, and I got a brief but close up look at some of RNs new guitars before s/c started. There was a black Norton guitar of which the main body was in two halves, top and bottom. Difficult to describe, it was like someone had taken the guitar body and cut it in half horizontally, and the two halved were just connected by the pickup (?). Ive never seen Rick play this cool looking guitar. Also got a look at the new checkerboard Chandler Electroslide with the vinyl "In Color" LP beneath the pickup; a burnt orange coloured Hamer Monterey, and a close up look at the Girl Brand guitar, the one covered in Japanese characters. That thing is just beautiful, a real work of art.
The band played "House is Rockin and worked on the vocal harmonies a little. It sounded damned good! Also played half of "Take Me to the Top" though without Tom. Rick ended up playing a few short seconds of "Oh Boy". Nice.
The theatre was sized to hold perhaps 1500-2000. It seemed fairly old, with an ornate surround to the stage, with gold coloured edgings. There was a front stage floor area, then two further raised floor levels back to the bar, each level had white crush barriers in front to prevent accidents. There was also a small balcony at the back of the theatre, above the bar and foyer area.The line lengthened before doors opened, and it was nice to meet some of the local fans as well as friends whod travelled from Wisconsin and Texas. It was a surprise to see two Japanese girls who Id never met at a CT show/event in the US before. They were visiting from Yokohama, and taking in two CT shows during their trip. The theatre was very hot, I have no idea if it had any air conditioning, aside from the afternoon power cut. It must have been approaching 100 degrees as we waited for the show to start.
Openers were Nash Kato (ex Urge Overkill) and his band. They played a short but good set from 9-9.30, and got a decent reception. Of particular note was their drummer, looking and playing like a young Keith Moon! Thewhole band were tight, and one of the better opening bands Ive seen.
Cheap Trick came on just after 10pm to a warm welcome (no pun intended).
RN Black pants, In Color shirt, rust jacket
RZ long sleeved black/bronze sparkly shirt, black pants
TP blue jean shirt, dark pants
BC black pants, black/white patterned shirt, Bacardi cap.
The set list was: Aint That a Shame, ELO Kiddies, Top of the World, Downed, IWYTWM, IKWIW, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Voices, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender/ Tell Me Everything, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.Despite the heat, the band put on as good a show as ever. I heard (though didnt see) that RZ occasionally got oxygen sidestage between songs. It was that hot, as well as being at altitude. The band looked in good spirits, particularly Tom who briefly came over and chatted in the dark just before the band launched into IWYTWM. The marbled blue Chandler bass that he played for much of the show is a beautiful instrument. Rick pointed out a few fans before the 70s Song including the Japanese girls, when one local shouted out to Rick that it was her 20th CT show. Quick as a flash he replied "Big f*ckin deal, Ive been to every one"! He soon made up with her, of course! RN played the checkerboard Chandler during 8 Miles Low. Nice Bun E solo ending to Heaven Tonight, with two white CT logos (the top one upside down, the bottom one the right way up) projected onto the stage backdrop. The MFH flat thrown out during Surrender boomeranged back near the front, though not near me. The usual piranha-like frenzy ensued. Im surprised people dont lose digits or limbs trying to get that thing Rick seemed to glare for several seconds at a guy near the front on his side of the stage, apparently holding up a mobile phone for the listener to hear the show, or at least that song. After Dream Police, Rick stood by his amp, back to the crowd, and tipped his whole cup of iced water down his shoulders and back. Im not surprised, it was that hot. Tom looked pretty relaxed and happy throughout the show, as ever Robins vocals were awesome, Bun E was dKing, and Rick was, well, Rick.
Just before the show started, I was jotting down the set list from the one taped down by RNs mic, when his tech came over and added "Invaders of the Heart" at the bottom. He talked loudly to another tech that it was some song they were adding on... "Yeah" I thought, "this is just a wind up!". As it was, the band didnt come back on to play it.Rick and Tom left as soon as the show was over. Robin was very obliging (as ever) to several fans who asked for autographs and pictures with him as he left the theatre. When the bands shuttle bus came out of the side alley to the theatre, Bun E rolled down the window and apologised for not having played Invaders, it had been too hot up on stage to play any more. Cool to think they even "thought" of playing it, though a shame it didnt happen! Still, it had been a good day and evening, and it was nice to leave Colfax Ave, its pimps, whores, dealers and other night life behind, head to my room and crash for the night. THURSDAY 10th AUGUST COLORADO MUSIC HALL, COLORADO SPRINGS (CO) Another hot and sunny day, and we left Denver around 11am to head on the short 60 mile journey to Colorado Springs. To be honest I was a little disappointed with the scenery close to Denver, and it was nice that the further from the big city we went, the better the scenery became. Of course we werent going to see the best of Colorado which lay to the west of the Rockies. The drive was enlivened not only by the scenery, but by the AMCT Tribute #3 CD which we played on the in-car CD player (that made the 20 cassette tapes Id brought over with me somewhat redundant ) As Id heard in CA a few weeks ago, a terrific selection of covers by a lot of talented fans. We reached Colorado Springs around 1pm, and checked into the Rodeway Inn, ideally situated right next to the venue. Though we only got to drive through, Co Springs seemed a pleasant town, dominated by the mighty Pikes Peak (and other mountains) nearby. From the motel we had a fine view of the town and mountains. Checked out the venue after lunch, and the band arrived around 4pm to play "House is Rockin" for soundcheck again. Very cool. It sounds like the band will be off the road Oct through Dec, some of that time to be spent on new material.
The Colorado Music Hall was a small dome, a little less grand than its name suggests. Inside was cosy though, and air conditioned too. In front of the low stage (which later had a barrier erected in front of it) was the standing floor area, then with 3 further low stepped areas heading back some 20 ft or so. From there, proper seating banked up to the rear of the dome.
Folks didnt start turning up until perhaps an hour before the show, but a long line soon stretched out into the parking lot. Again good to talk to local fans, always nice to make new friends! We got let in at 8pm, and by 8.55 it was just plain embarrassing. The line in front of the stage was about 2 deep, the slightly raised step areas were sparsely populated with most folks having chosen to sit up in the comfy seats. Some 2/3 of those were full by the time Nash Kato came on at 9. An annoyance were the security guards, two stood side stage which was OK, but one stood right in front of centre stage (behind the barrier) for the duration. He obviously took his job seriously, more of him later. Nash Kato played a good 45 minute set, and they, like us, found the air conditioned atmosphere much more comfortable than the previous 100 degree night in Denver.
Cheap Trick were due on at 10.15, but it seemed that late technical problems held things up. The band took the stage 10 minutes late, though it was good to see that the standing areas were much fuller than they had been an hour previously.
RN Black pants, Black t- shirt, purple jacket
RZ long sleeved black/bronze sparkly shirt, black pants
TP black pants, Black western style shirt with blue trim
BC black pants, black/white/grey flowered shirt.
The set list was: Aint That a Shame, ELO Kiddies, TV Violence, Downed, IWYTWM, IKWIW, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Voices, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender/ Tell Me Everything, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.Bun was unhappy with one of his snare drums from Downed onwards, and his tech frequently had to make adjustments. During IWYTWM, Rick placed a guitar pick on the stern security guards shoulder (the one standing at centre stage spoiling the view for those at front centre). The guard didnt flinch, smile or anything, and the pick sat on his shoulder for at least the rest of the song. Early into Wrong All Along, RN had to change his guitar, which happened again during Lot to Lose, no idea why. During Heaven Tonight RN gave his guitar to one of the girls from Japan (which was soon retrieved by his tech!). Two MFH flats got thrown out during Surrender, I dont recall that happening before. A few friends came back to our room for a couple of hours, and we taked and had cold beer. And yes, I even had TWO Coronas no wonder I slept well that night! FRIDAY 11th AUGUST CAMEL ROCK CASINO, SANTA FE (NM). Yet another hot, sunny day, and we left at 11am for the 300 mile drive to the Camel Rock Casino, just north of Santa Fe. The traffic hold up just a few miles south of Colorado Springs was frustrating, we lost 15-20 minutes in that. We made up the time though by flying down I-25. The scenery still wasnt as picturesque as Id hoped for, but we did see more mountains as we approached the state line for New Mexico, "The Enchanted State". Hmmm, the dark clouds and thunderstorms over the mountains to our right didnt seem too enchanting to me! Still, we didnt get the rain and continued to drive through flat scrub until we started getting more hills as we got closer to Santa Fe. We even passed through Las Vegas though it was nothing like its glossy neon-driven namesake in Nevada! We had to drive through Santa Fe to get onto the road for Camel Rock, and finally reached the venue just after 4pm. The Casino was on a Reservation (the Tesuque) so was dry. As in no beer. Hmmm, Rick will have a problem with his customary Rolling Rock tonight then The friends from Boston and Texas drove in just after wed parked, and we went in to find a fan from Los Angeles already there. The casino was small by Vegas standards, and fairly quiet at mid afternoon. The concert venue (normally "The Rock" bingo hall) was to the left as you walked in, and although you could hear what was going on, curtains pulled across the doorway prevented us seeing in. There were quite a lot of security too, at every entrance to the hall as well as around the casino.
Tom, his wife, and Robin arrived a little later, popped into the hall, then came out again to look around and maybe gamble a little. Some 15 minutes later Tom and his wife came back, and were stopped by the security guard at the main entrance to the hall. "Do you have any business in there?" asked the guard. Tom was stunned, and then the guard asked for ID! We pointed Tom out on the poster advertising tonights show, which was helpfully placed by the entrance, and asked the guard if he noticed any similarity with the man standing in front of him. After a few seconds the guard relented and allowed them in! A few minutes later, Robin came back, though by now the guard had twigged that as well as asking for ID he could check the concert advertisement. He got in somewhat more easily.Rick and Bun E had obviously arrived at the stage entrance, because soon after we heard (from behind the curtain) all four warm up and then launch into "House is Rockin" for soundcheck. This was followed by "Lookin Out for Number One", the first time Ive ever heard this done live. Cool.
We had to wait in line a little away from the hall entrance, in separate lines (men/women), presumably to allow security searches to be carried out more easily. The lines started building up behind us a little after 6pm, and soon snaked across the whole foyer area of the casino. Looks like the locals were out in force for Friday night entertainment.
At 7.35pm we got let into the hall. It was big, with a soda and popcorn bar off to one side (no beer, remember?). There was a floor area stretching some 30 feet back from the front of the stage, then rows of seating. They didnt bank up or anything, all at floor level. And almost everyone who was in line for an hour or more rushed in to take a seat at least 30 feet from the stage Good to meet some local fans that Id corresponded with. Early entertainment was provided by a bat which had got in, and was flying around the front stage area in an increasingly vain effort to find a way back out to the desert. After some 10 minutes an elderly man walked in with a fishing type net, and after a couple of attempts caught the bat to go release it. I could only breath a sigh of relief that Ozzy wasnt in the roomNash Kato were first up, and were allowed to play a 50-60 minute set which included covers of "Dirty Work" and "Girl Youll be a Woman Soon". Another fine set from the band out of the Chicago area, definitely worth seeing. What sucked was the security, again. There was no barrier in front of the stage, which I guess was 4 ft high or so. However, the crowd up front were pretty mellow. But shortly before the show started, 4 security people came up. Two of them went to each side of the stage, but the two others moved in, asked folks to step back, and one stood in front of the Robin/Tom spot, the other in front of the Rick/Robin spot. So I stepped back like everyone else, and this elderly guard stood pretty much in front of me and stayed there for the night. Bah. Of course by then those affected couldnt move elsewhere. Nash Kato finished at 9, and without warning thick drapes swept in to hide the stage. I had no chance to pick up my soda, which Id helpfully put on the floor in front of me rather than on the stage front. So that got knocked over and emptied before I had a chance to react. The crowd in front of the stage had swelled, though a lot of folks were still in their seats when CT took the stage at 9.35pm.
RN Black pants, In Color shirt, rust jacket
RZ Long sleeved black/bronze sparkly shirt, black casual zip up jacket, black pants
TP White zip up shirt/jacket, black pants
BC , black pants, black/white patterned shirt, black CT logo on white cap.
The set list was: Aint That a Shame (short ending), ELO Kiddies, TV Violence, Downed, IWYTWM, IKWIW, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Voices, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender/ Tell Me Everything, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.It was certainly a nice, lively show until the middle of IWYTWM when the stage lights failed. The band kept playing, though RN kept getting onto his steps to get an uplight. At the end of the song, there were probably 3 minutes whilst we saw frenzied activity backstage and men with torches. Of course Rick talked to the crowd in between, including a variation of a standard line. "You may not be able to see us, but were Cheap Trick!". The lighting people managed to get a couple of white spotlights working, so the band started up again. During IKWIW, the rest of the coloured stage lights came back on. Rick came back on after Surrender in the way that he does, "Do you wanna hear some more?". He came over and asked me if I wanted his beer, and handed me a red cup of iced water! Still, it was very welcome! Despite the lighting problem, it was a nice show with an enthusiastic audience, at least up front. This was borne out by the merchandise stand doing brisk business after the show. Seven of us fans went and had a late meal in the casino buffet where I kept bumping into Nash Kato. Was the guy following me or what? <g> After the show we drove the hour down to near Albuquerque, and this latest 3 night CT stand was over. As always, three great shows, each interesting in different ways (good and not so good). But as always, the band delivered. THE REST Had a couple of days down near Albuquerque, to wind down and do some sightseeing. This included a circular drive up through the Jemez Valley, Valles Caldera through Los Alamos and back through Santa Fe. Some fabulous scenery, who said New Mexico is all desert? As we climbed up past Jemez Springs, the trees in the valleys became thick conifer forests, and it was almost like driving in Oregon or Washington. Saw quite a lot of forest fire damage too. Some of the views at the highest points, across vast plains of New Mexico towards distant mountains were just breathtaking. Passed by the Camel Rock Casino on the way back, and actually saw the Camel Rock. From one angle, it "does" look like a camel! That night we had a fabulous New Mexican meal back in Corrales, including my first introduction to sopopilla, fried bread pockets, which we ate with honey. Mmmmm <drool>! The next day saw another drive, this time up to Santa Fe but skirting Sandia Peak on the "Turquoise Trail". That was scenic too, and cool to stop and have a drink at the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid. This was obviously a popular spot with local bikers, the front of the bar saw a long line of Harleys and other sparkling chromed hogs, and many of their owners sat on the rail outside the bar entrance. A local band were playing inside to a full room of drinkers and eaters, and were a good accompaniment to my "Alien Amber" ale! Mid afternoon saw us in the plaza in Santa Fe. All the buildings were very low rise, St Francis Cathedral looked nice, and their was an air of festivity as at least one wedding was taking place in the plaza park, as well as a mariachi band playing on stage. It was cool to be there, though the buildings surrounding the historic plaza didnt look like they were 400 years old, which disappointed me a little. Oh well, it was still good to visit Dinner that night was in the High Finance restaurant, atop the 10,000+ ft Sandia Peak near Albuquerque. This could only be reached by riding a "seriously" scary sky-tram Did I ever say that I hate heights? The view, and the spectacular views from the top made it worthwhile though, and cool to eat and watch Albuquerque light up as the dusk turned to night. Saw a small town light up in the opposite direction too, though it wasnt the glow of thousands of street lights. Ah, must be the nuclear research place at Los Alamos
The early morning drive from Albuquerque to Denver Airport (over 400 miles) was tiring but worthwhile. Saw the most amazing and spectacular red/orange sunrise over Santa Fe, as well as better scenery heading north than Id remembered on the drive south. Guess Id had CT shows on my mind then The flights/trains/bus journey home was long and tiring, but uneventful, and I was pleased to get a few hours sleep at home before getting back to work the next day.
As always, it was a real pleasure to meet many old and new friends during the trip, particular thanks to Rhiazann, Lisa (Texas), Steph (Boston), Stacey and Rochelle for being cool people to hang out with at all 3 shows, in line, and to eat with! As ever, thanks to Carla, Cheap Trick, and the guys in the CT crew who were all very cool as always. And the guys in Nash Kato too, cool to talk to them too.
(Leeds, England) Aug 2000
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