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It was a pretty impulsive and late decision, soon after I got back from the Colorado/New Mexico shows, to return for the two Illinois shows. Well, there’s few other live dates this side of Christmas… That was how I sold it to myself, my boss and my credit card!

Flew into Chicago O’Hare from London’s Gatwick Airport on Weds 6 Sept, via Detroit. The London to Detroit flight with Northwest was fine, the plane was only about a quarter full. Got to see one of the finest movies of the Millennium so far (…not) – the Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. Oh well, at least I didn’t spot Hugh Grant in it…

The "Gisborne Travel Curse" struck again…the mid evening flight from Detroit to O’Hare was delayed by 30 minutes to something in the cockpit needing to be replaced. Not the pilot I hope. Anyway, made good time flying over Michigan and the Lake, and had a wonderful view of downtown Chicago by night as we approached O’Hare. Met up with Rhiazann there, and got back to Madison WI by midnight.

The Thursday was the one leisurely day on this short trip. Some shopping, a short visit to Mt Horeb WI (with it’s "Troll-way", Mustard Museum and sampling the local brews at the Mt Horeb microbrewery). A hot and mostly sunny day with temperatures in the high 80’s, as they were every day I was over.

Friday 8 Sept - Cubby Bear North, Lincolnshire IL

Left Madison at lunchtime, and we drove across to Milwaukee before heading down towards north Chicago. The Lincolnshire suburb seemed pretty fancy, and we eventually found the Cubby Bear North venue. It was fairly quiet at mid afternoon, and we started off by having a drink with Maria (from NY) and Steph from Boston, who’d arrived shortly before us. They (and later others) were surprised to see me, as I’d decided not to mention beforehand that I was coming over yet again. Nice to meet up with some other fans during the long wait for get in.

Doors opened at 8pm, and by then there was a very large crowd waiting to get in. Good to (briefly) meet up with many familiar faces amongst the local contingent, you know who you are! I think the only people I didn’t see that I knew were going were Peter Ex or Ron PBG.

The venue was quite large, though the stage was small. The dancefloor area was flanked by bars on each side, with booths etc. It was so packed that if you were off to the side, I doubt you could have seen the band. There was also upstairs seating/balcony on 3 sides. There was lots of wood in evidence, spars and beams and wood panelling. They obviously got a good deal from the local lumber yard when they built this place! On normal evenings, it was definitely a sports bar, there were several TV’s in the bar areas showing the nights baseball games. The show was sponsored by and WXRT radio, so the security seemed pretty tight

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

RZ – bronze sparkly shirt, black pants

TP – black pants, black roll neck shirt, beige jacket with fancy trim

BC – black shirt with Chinese designs trim, black pants

Ain’t That a Shame, ELO Kiddies, House is Rocking, Downed, IWYTWM, IKWIW, Wrong All Along, 70’s Song, 8 Miles Low, Voices, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender / Tell Me Everything, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight

The items on Rick’s amps now include a stuffed toy bald eagle. Rick broke a string during Downed and had to make a fast guitar change mid song. For Surrender, the usual MFH flat got thrown out into the crowd, and was caught cleanly by someone in the front of the balcony, a rare event! It was a nice show and a good sized local crowd.

I briefly spoke to Carla after the show, who said that backstage was busy, and guests included Billy Corgan. Outside was chaos, and I was glad that we’d gotten to the venue early. From around 5pm onwards, people had to pay for valet parking, no option (unless they parked opposite). So come time to go home, hundreds of people had to wait in line to get their cars back. Crazy. We got out fairly quickly, drove through the fog towards Milwaukee and eventually reached Madison just after 3am. Definitely a long day.

Saturday 9 September - Chillicothe, IL

Another hot day as I set out at lunchtime to drive from Madison down to Chillicothe. Rhiazann wasn’t feeling well, so I drove down on my own. The sun, and the Illinois cornfields were relentless! I got to Chillicothe around 4pm, and eventually found the 3 Sisters Park on the Peoria side of town, right off IL29 as promised. Got to park up on the field, amongst lots of bikes and pick-up trucks. There was no-one at the entrance ticket booths, so I wandered right into the circular building atop the rise. I joined the line of people to the radio station booth, but no, they didn’t have willcall tickets. They were sorting out entries for the nights (other) big attraction – to win the Bud THUNDER-TRUCK! Uh, cool. I asked about willcall, no one connected with the event either knew or cared. Oh well, I wandered through out towards the stage area.

The moderately crowded, sandy field sloped down to the stage which was set up in front of some trees, which extended up on the left and were another impromptu parking zone for Harley’s. Lot’s of them. To the right (looking down), the park extended out into the distance… To be honest, it wasn’t a pretty park! Quite a few people had brought garden chairs, or were just sitting on the grass facing the stage. The beer booths were doing plenty of business, food less so it seemed. The event was called "Hog Roast" by the organisers, and I had this image of a big pit, filled with smouldering coals and with whole pigs roasting… I think the "Hog" had more to do with motorbikes than pork! However, there was a concession selling hot dogs and pork steaks, barbequed on a small gas BBQ. So there I was, at "Hog Roast"… I "had" to get me a BBQ pork sandwich, OK? <g>

A local band, the Itchy Pickles, were already playing when I arrived, though soon finished their set. That was a relief, the large guy with the Mohawk haircut, physically picking up people in the crowd, was seriously scary. I kept out of his way. I heard that I’d missed at least one woman flashing her chest on stage… D’OH!

As it approached 6pm, the area in front of the stage became increasingly crowded. I found myself in front, but right by Rick’s steps. Good to have met up with a number of friends before the show started.

RN – black pinstripe jacket, black pants, cool black/red GirlBrand t-shirt

RZ – bronze sparkly shirt, black pants

TP – beige t-shirt, brown pants, straw hat

BC – purple, palm tree patterned shirt, black pants

Ain’t That a Shame, ELO Kiddies, House is Rocking, Taxman Mr Thief, IWYTWM, IKWIW, Wrong All Along, If You Want My Love, 70’s Song, 8 Miles Low, Oh Caroline, Voices, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender / Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight

The band played a lively and energetic show, though I couldn’t judge the sound very well since I mostly got Rick’s guitar sound from his amps. Nice to get a slightly different set than in Lincolnshire the previous night, with Taxman a particular bonus. During the set Rick announced that I needed a ride on a Harley Davidson… uhhh, did I say that? Well, I got no offers…! During Heaven Tonight Rick handed his guitar to his "cousin", a large security guard in front of Tom’s side of the stage. Sven came haring round and had to fight his way through the front of the crowd to get the guitar back. Rick certainly didn’t give him an easy retrieval job there, since there was no security gap in front of the high stage. Rick returned after Surrender with his customary Rolling Rock, and did his usual "Does that mean you wanna hear some more?" banter. But then, instead of handing his bottle to someone in the front, he came over to his steps. Someone nearby held up their plastic beer cup so Rick started pouring his beer into it. Of course others quickly closed in, cups aloft and Rick ended up "sharing" with about 4 people!

The band finished at 7.25, and it was weird that the show was over before it was dark! They’d done a great job as the support act to the main event of the show, which followed shortly after they left the stage… the draw for the Bud THUNDER TRUCK!! I guess someone from near Peoria went home happy that evening! …Steve C…?

I caught up with various people after CT finished, and left Chillicothe at 8.10 to drive back to Madison. Filled up with gas in Chillicothe at roughly $1.50 a gallon (more on that later). I got back to Madison at 11pm, whilst the band were on their way to Chicago, then to Vancouver next day.

Sunday 10 September – Flying home

To reinforce the message, NEVER EVER fly with me. Never. Ever… Left Madison around 1pm and caught a bus down to Chicago's O’Hare Airport on the hot Sunday afternoon. Checked in with Northwest, for my flight to Detroit, connecting with the late flight to London. The connection to Detroit was cancelled, due to heavy rain in Michigan. For a while it looked like I’d have to stay overnight in Chicago – no great hardship, except I had to be back at work on Tuesday. I asked about getting onto the KLM flight to Amsterdam, and the agent found me a seat. He had problems getting an Amsterdam to London connection, which suited me fine as I asked if I could fly back to Leeds/Bradford instead. Yes, no problem, so things looked cool. Caught the international flight 90 minutes later, not a bad flight though I didn’t get much sleep as usual. Arrived 30 mins late into Amsterdam, due to mist which was affecting flights. I found that the mid morning flight to Leeds was cancelled, as was the lunchtime one. Other UK flights were affected, due to fog in the north of England, so the airline booked me onto an early afternoon flight to Manchester. That left 30 mins late (after I had been at Amsterdam some 4 hours), then had a long wait for airline bus to take passengers from Manchester Airport to Leeds Airport. We finally got there over 3 hours late, and after2 more bus rides, I got home at 4.45pm, around 23 hours after leaving Madison. Journeys like that always make me wonder why I put myself through such travel torture, but of course I could look back on two great CT shows. And besides which, I have a travel curse… I’m destined to "always" have some flight problem! It’s a fact of life!

Oh, I mentioned buying gas in Chillicothe, right? Well, the bus journey from Manchester Airport to Leeds Airport was interesting. I’d left the UK only 5 days before, and unbeknown to me whilst I was away, there had been blockades set up at fuel distribution centres by hauliers and farmers, protesting at the high price of fuel here (gas is roughly $6.50 a gallon). So I had the sight of petrol/gas stations either run out of fuel, or of lines of cars waiting to fill up at the few stations still with supplies. Many had queues of up to 50 cars. I wished that I’d filled up before I’d flown out, my car had only quarter of a tank…

It was a pleasure, as always, to meet up with many friends from Chicago and the Midwest (plus those from further afield!). There’s too many to name, and unfortunately due to circumstances (such as the pounding PA music in Cubby Bear) I didn’t get to talk to some people as much as I’d have liked. However, it was good to have met everyone at each of the shows, you know who you all are! Thanks to Rhiazann for hospitality (and the use of her car to drive to Chillicothe!), and as ever thanks to Cheap Trick and Carla.

So… is anyone meeting up before the Panama City show? <g> … But seriously, I suspect my next trip will be in December, perhaps Dec 30 and NYE? Hope to run into more friends next time around!


(They persecute me right here in Leeds, England) - 12 Sept 2000


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