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Cheap Trick in Florida – January 2002

January always seems to be a somewhat depressing time, with the Christmas and New Years holidays out of the way, and no let up to the winter weather! And this year, no shows announced for February and March (at the time of writing) to follow up the late Dec shows in Rockford and Chicago. So after several days of indecision, checking credit card balances, vacation allowance and tour dates, I decided to make a short but intense weekend visit to Florida for two of the three shows in that warm and sunny State! I’d considered doing the Nashville and Robinsonville shows, but the (affordable) airline ticket restrictions (of spending at least one Sat night in the US) meant that I’d need to take too much vacation time. So instead I opted to get to the St Petersburg and Hallandale shows, found affordable (though not the most convenient) flights, and had to only take two days vacation time!

Thursday 24 January 2002 – Flying to Miami…

I guess it could be said that my travel problems were all at the start of the trip. I’d booked my flights online only 10 days before leaving, but soon discovered that my credit card had been double charged for the flights. I spent 8 days trying to contact the online travel booking company to get the refund and only managed to speak to someone the evening before I flew. I had also planned to take the train from Leeds to Manchester Airport, but just two days before the journey I heard about a railway strike in north England, so I had to drive instead… which meant leaving home earlier because of how heavy the traffic gets on the motorways leading to and around Manchester during peak hours. So it was, I left home at 7.05 on a grey, damp and cool morning, and even then managed to get snarled up in the Manchester area. Arrived at the long term parking lot (but I’m only away for 93 hrs!) at 9.05am.

My 8 hour flight to Washington Dulles with BMI British Midland was fine, and like the last time I’d flown with them, to Chicago last summer, the plane was barely full. I managed to get upgraded to their premium economy cabin so had more legroom and better service! Listening to Music for Hangovers and Bun E’s Boots CD’s helped pass the time! Passed through immigration and customs OK, and upon hearing that I still had a 4 hour wait for my evening connection to Miami, the United connection agent said I should go to the transfer desk and try to get on an earlier flight. Transferred from terminal C/D to the main terminal via the big people carriers they use at Dulles. They seem the only way to get between ANY terminals at that airport, very odd.

I was put on standby for the 5.50pm Miami flight and eventually got a seat, which would save me 2 hrs on the itinerary that I’d booked (I figured the price had been good because of the long layovers at Dulles). As the plane approached the Miami area, I saw from the window that it sprawled like Los Angeles, which bode "well" for driving! Landed at Miami International at 8.30pm, and walked out of the plane into 75 degree evening heat! At that moment I wished I hadn’t worn a sweatshirt and leather jacket… though I’d needed them at home in the morning!

Finally got the shuttle to the Days Inn Intl Airport hotel… to find they didn’t have the reservation I’d made online (even though I’d bought a print out of it). By now it was after 9.30pm and I was tired after travelling for 19 hours. Luckily they were able to accommodate me at the same price that I’d "booked" at. I was happy to finally shower and get to bed, as I had 3 more long days ahead!

Friday 25 January – Cheap Trick in St Petersburg, FL

My alarm felt like it woke me too soon, though in truth I hadn’t slept well and needed an early start to get across Florida to St Petersburg. I was up at 6am, catching shuttles back to the airport and then to get my rental car. Being a sucker I allowed Alamo to again talk me into an upgrade, though not to the convertible they tried to get me to agree to! My bright red Chevy Cavalier and I left Alamo at 7.40am… and my worst thoughts about driving in Miami came true. Despite being armed with detailed street maps that I’d bought at home and what I thought was a clear set of directions, I foolishly followed some street signs that indicated which way I needed to go for I-75 headed north then west… except I ended up on 112 heading towards the beaches instead. I tried to find my way back again, and ended up stopping at a MacDonalds in a neighbourhood that made me feel uncomfortable. I got some breakfast and coffee, and re-checked the maps. I ended up driving back to the airport terminal and out again, and eventually got onto the right road heading towards I-75. I'd only been lost for an hour. My tip of the day, don’t trust Miami road signs, at least around the airport.

It took me about 4 hours to drive to pretty St Petersburg, including a long stretch through the Everglades called Alligator Alley. There was swamp on either side of the road, for many miles it was low reeds and a few small shrubs and trees, later becoming more like mangrove swamp with more trees and foliage. I saw plenty of sea birds, white ones like herons, and black ones that sat on branches or shrubs, spread their wings and took in the sun! Most alligators stayed in the water so all that could be seen of then was a ridge of spine or the eyes, but I did later spot one basking in the sun. 75N was closed well before Naples (I found out next day due to a 27 vehicle, multiple casualty crash), so I had to head inland on 29 and rejoin 75N near Fort Myers. Passed several Florida orange groves as I drove along the smaller roads.

I crossed the spectacular Sunshine Skyway Bridge approaching St Petersburg, drove past downtown and reached my Days Inn OK. After a quick shower, I headed to Tropicana Field, the enclosed stadium that is home to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball club. A 2pm tour wasn’t unfortunately held, but one of their staff kindly escorted me in so I could see the stadium. Sadly most of the artificial turf was covered by tables and trucks, as a conference/show was being set up, but it was still cool to see another spectacular American sports arena.

Downtown St Pete was clean, spacious and felt both relaxed and upmarket. Two people were in line already at 3pm, one of which was Maria from New York, in for just this show! The three of us chatted awhile before the band arrived around 4pm.

The venue was interesting, Jannus Landing was an open air courtyard in the downtown area, but surrounded by buildings. To stage left and facing was a 2 storey high building, with a walkway at 2nd floor level all around. To stage right and rear were buildings some 4 storeys high. The courtyard included several palmetto and other trees that gave it some extra tropical character. The capacity was around 1500, and the show was sold out. The stage was a reasonable size, and it and the first 15 feet of the audience were covered by a large tent-like canopy, with a large tent support pole right in front of the centre of the stage, and a second support pole about 10 feet from stage front. With the possibility of rain or storms, the band and some of the crowd would be welcome of the shelter! However, that seemed unlikely as the afternoon was sunny and hot.

Local resident David Wells, the Yankees pitcher arrived before soundcheck (a buzz for me to speak to him briefly!), and he was warmly welcomed when the band emerged to soundcheck. The band played "Looking Out for Number One" and "Oh Caroline" (electric). Although those out in line couldn’t see the band, the gates to enter the courtyard were not far behind the rear of stage right, so they could hear soundcheck fine!

The waiting crowd were let in just after 7pm on a warm, sticky evening, and the courtyard didn’t take long to fill up. Mark Radice (co-writer of some of the "Standing On The Edge" tunes) was spotted up on the balcony, though I don’t believe that producer Jack Douglas, working on a project a few miles down the coast made it to the show.

Harmony Riley came on at 8.30pm and played a nice 45 minute set which included 3-4 new songs (they go into the studio soon). Towards the end of their set Daxx was thrashing the life out of his drumkit during "Lovelite". The wisdom of the canopy was proved about 15 minutes into Harmony Riley’s set, as it rained for about 15 minutes. However, that was the only rain of the evening.

Cheap Trick came on just after 9.50pm to an enthusiastic welcome…

RN – grey t-shirt, long black jacket, black pants

TP – black pants, black button down shirt with a black/red/white target on chest

BC – black t-shirt, black jeans

RZ – shades, long white jacket, black leather pants, black and grey dragon patterned shirt

Clock Strikes Ten, Just Got Back, If You Want My Love, Hot Love, Borderline, High Roller, Waiting For The Man, She’s Tight, Voices, Tonight Its You, Anytime, I Want You To Want Me, Surrender // Dream Police, Gonna Raise Hell, Goodnight Now

"Oh Caroline" (to follow "High Roller") and "e-drone" (before "Anytime") were crossed off the setlist shortly before the show.

After "Tonight Its You", Rick pointed out a "Happy Birthday Robin" sign in the crowd. He then brought baseball stars David Wells and Kirk Gibson onto the stage, the former to say a few words about an upcoming local charity event. Rick played the Be-Bop-A-Lula guitar for "Anytime". During Dream Police someone in the crowd thew a fake beard braid into the stage, which brought a smile to the band on stage as Rick held it to his chin! Highlights of the show for me were a wonderful "Waiting For The Man", and a version of "Gonna Raise Hell" which rivalled the Music For Hangovers version. It was the same MFH version with the ending, but Bun E played something like a 4-5 minute drum solo during it, he looked and sounded awesome. I saw Rick standing sidestage watching with a smile on his face. Interesting to note that no new songs were played, nor had been at Jacksonville the previous night so I was told by a fan.

The show ended at 11.15pm, though it took quite a while for the crowd to filter out onto the streets. I headed back to my hotel and was in bed by 12.30am for another short night of sleep.

Saturday 26 January – Cheap Trick in Hallandale (near Miami), FL

Another early start since the Hallandale show was starting at 2.30pm. I left my hotel at 7.15am after a quick breakfast nearby and then filling up with petrol at 99c a gallon! Gosh, if only I could send some home at that price… As I drove south I saw an orange/pink glow behind the downtown St Pete skyline, and by the time I reached the first bridge on 275 heading south to cross the bay, the sun was a deep orange ball starting to hide behind some low cloud but casting a wonderful orange reflection over the water. Sadly I couldn’t stop to take a picture. I drove down 75 again, passing through the Big Cypress National Park and Alligator Alley and seeing more birds and alligators. One day it would be nice to have more time to explore more of that area.

I reached Gulfstream Park shortly before noon. Between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, this was a large racecourse, and the parking lots were already filling up fast by the time I arrived. There was a race meeting taking place, as well as the show. I walked back quite a way to the gates, eventually finding the ones closest to the concert venue. Cheap Trick’s show was free, fans only had to pay the $5 entrance fee to the racecourse. However, an area of reserved seating was set out in front of the stage and had sold out prior to the day. The concert venue was in part of the large and busy grassed area behind of the large grandstand (which of course faced onto the racetrack). Only 150-200 yards away was the parade ring for the horses, and I later heard that the loudness of Cheap Trick’s show upset some of the horses! The stage was mid sized with a shell roof to offer a small amount of protection from the afternoon sun. To the left of the stage was a large video screen showing the horse racing on the track etc. By the time I got there many people had bagged spots on the grass surrounding the reserved seating area, with blankets or garden chairs. It was a hot and cloudless afternoon with the temperature in the low 80's, and would be pretty brutal for the band to perform in.

On paying your $5 entrance, every visitor got a free $2 betting slip. Feeling that I didn’t have a lot to lose… (O-O!) I went and placed it on race 2, choosing horse #7 because… well, just because! I’ve never been to a race meeting before so I had no clue, it was an uneducated guess! I decided to go and watch the race anyway, and watched the horses round the track, and when they came into the home straight I was amazed to see #7 in the lead by 3-4 lengths! It won, and having bet on the nose, I got almost $10 back! However, I’m not tempted to rush to Vegas and bet my house on black 15! But winning was a nice bonus on this interesting and unusual afternoon.

There was a good sized crowd by the time Cheap Trick took to the stage at 2.35pm…

RN – white on black John Candas logo t-shirt, black pants, light fine checked jacket

TP – straw cowboy hat, pale blue shirt, blue jeans

BC – white Zildjian t-shirt, black jeans

RZ – white pants, black/grey patterned shirt, leopard print jacket

Ain’t That A Shame, Just Got Back, If You Want My Love, Hot Love, Borderline, High Roller, Oh Caroline (electric), Voices, Clock Strikes Ten, Anytime, I Want You To Want Me, Surrender // Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

I was privileged to be watching the show from sidestage behind Rick’s tech, so my view of proceedings was somewhat different than usual! It was noticable from the crowd as well as to me that things weren’t running too smoothly, particularly for Rick. He seemed to be having technical problems for much of the show, or else was just giving his temporary tech a hard time during the tech’s last show with them. At one point, Rick apparently kicked his box amp off stage, though I didn’t see quite what happened.There were some other, general sound problems too.

After "Hot Love" Rick noticed a young girl holding a sign saying "Happy Birthday Robin – this is my first concert" sign, so he got Briana on stage. He asked her how old she was, she replied "Seven", to which Rick told everyone to bet on 7! I guess it "was" today's lucky number, as my horse #7 had won! He then dedicated the next song, "Borderline" to her. It was cool to see that the crowd extended far beyond the immediate stage area, with people standing and watching from the paths by the grandstand, and back towards the show ring. In fact, it was great to see a lot of people watching from the windows and balconies of the rear of the grandstand! It was cool to see the crowd having a good time, and seeing a couple of women in the crowd, dancing in bikini’s made me forget that this was January! Some of the seated crowd had been pretty passive during the show until "I Want You To Want Me" which got everyone on their feet! There was a long intro to "Auf Wiedersehen", and during the song a blonde managed to get on stage before being stopped from reaching Robin by a combination of tech’s and security guards. I think the security had been fairly low key at stage front, and there was no barrier separating the crowd from the stage. The woman was led away and removed from the racecourse.

The set was around 65-70 minutes, and the band all performed well despite the heat. It must have been terribly draining for them to play during the afternoon of a hot day.

The band emerged 15-20 minutes after the show ended, and spent around 30 minutes signing autographs. The tour bus was parked very close to the merchandise stand and the crowd area, so a lot of people had waited after the show to try to get autographs and photo’s.

After staying on and chatting with Kenny and Sharon for awhile, I finally left the racecourse and drove south to try to find my airport Days Inn again, to check in for a few hours. Managed to find it by 6.45pm, had a quick swim in the outside pool in the dark (with cars zooming past on 836 nearby!) before having a snack and getting to bed. I needed as much sleep as I could get, with a horribly early start next day, and a very very long travelling day to boot.

Sunday 27 January – Washington DC then home

My alarm woke me up from a fitful few hours of sleep at 3am. I showered quickly and was checked out by 3.20am, drove to drop off my rental car, and got the Alamo shuttle to Miami Intl Airport. The 6.05am flight up to Washington DC was surprisingly full, and we landed at Dulles at 8.30am. As I had 9 hours before my overnight flight to Manchester, I had decided to try to get into DC and see a few sights. It was sunny and mild as I got the Washington Flyer shuttle bus to West Falls Church subway station, and after a 20 minute wait, a Metro train into downtown DC. The cost wasn’t bad at all, $16.60 round trip in total. Interesting to compare the dimly (but interestingly) lit but clean and spacious downtown subway stations with the much smaller and generally shabbier ones in London.

Washington DC was very quiet as I started my 4 hour walk, but it was bright and sunny, and warming up quickly. I got out at Federal Triangle, and walked up to Pennsylvania Avenue from where I saw both the FBI Building and in the distance, the US Capitol. I walked up to towards the White House, and was struck by the wonderful feel of the place. The streets were wide and spacious, and lined with large, imposing but impressive buildings. None were high rise, though were several storeys tall, and built in impressive architectural styles. One thing that many had in common were front facades with Greek or Roman pillars. The White House was exactly as seen on TV, though seemed a bit smaller than I expected. It was a long walk down to the Vietnam Memorial wall and the Lincoln Memorial. It was awesome to climb the steps in the (by now) hot sunshine and look back down the Mall to the imposing Washington Monument needle, beautifully reflected in the Reflecting Pool, with the Capitol further in the distance. Lincoln looked impressive as he sat in the shadow of his memorial building. I then walked back past the Korean War Memorial, a jungle patrol captured in larger than life statues, down to the Washington Monument. Interesting to see both soccer, and a team game using a frisbee being played on the grass in front of the giant monument. I continued walking up the Mall, stopping off for 15 minutes in the wonderful National Air and Space Museum for a quick look around. The Capitol looked spectacular when I reached it, and I briefly popped into the National Museum of Natural History on my way back to Federal Triangle. The Musuems, all part of the Smithsonian, were all very impressive and free to enter, and I really must return to Washington for more than just 4 hours! I liked downtown DC!

I got back to Dulles OK, checking back in good time for my flight home. No chance of upgrading going home, but again the flight wasn't crowded so I was able to stretch out on a row of 3 seats. As usual, I didn't get any sleep, though was too tired to read or watch a video. We landed in Manchester early, at 5.15am on Monday morning. In contrast to Florida and Washington, Manchester was cold and damp… welcome home! I got through immigration and customs fairly quickly, got a shuttle to the long term parking lot and was on the road just before 6am. The 60 mile drive to Leeds was uneventful though the roads were crowding up as I reached my office just after 7am. Had a quick shower and changed into my work suit, and at my desk by 7.20am, 96 hours after leaving home for the trip! I worked to 3.30pm, but truth be told, I was pretty wasted! You know when you're dozing off and your head keeps jerking as you awake? Mine did that several times during the day! I don't think anyone noticed, and I was pleased to get home and get to bed by 6.30pm and try for 12 hours sleep! I needed it! I worked out that from the time I got up on Thursday morning to the time I got to bed on Monday evening, I got 18 hrs sleep out of 109! <yawn>!

As ever, an eventful trip, and more punishing in terms of fatigue than normal. Florida was one State I'd never planned to go to, mainly because so many British tourists go there, to Orlando and the beaches, but I was glad I went. Miami had been bustling, crowded and a huge built up sprawl. What little of it I experienced was cosmopolitan, with such a strong Hispanic population and culture. However, the roads were as busy as those in LA, or worse, and I won't miss not driving there again in the near future. I hadn't had time to see Miami Beach or the art deco district, or to eat Cuban cuisine, so maybe I missed some of the better things Miami has to offer? Other parts of FLA were great, the drive through the Everglades was cool, and St Petersburg felt nice to be at. I loved Washington DC, even though in 4 hours I barely scratched the surface. Worth a return trip just to visit all those wonderful Smithsonian museums…

Good to see…

It’s always nice at shows to run into old and new friends, and these two Florida shows were no exception :-) Good to see Maria, the Mellster, Brian from Dallas, Adam (not one of the NY Adams but a 20 year old fan), the family of HR fans (sorry, I’ve forgotten their names), Jan Schneider, Dr Mark, Kenny and Sharon (who can be found in the crowd shot of the Silver CD sleeve – Kenny in the checkerboard shirt), and several other new people that I met.

And last by no means least, big thanks as always to Carla and the band! It's always a pleasure to come visit and see shows!

Kim Gisborne   29 January 2002


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