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As day follows night, then generally a Japan tour follows a new CD release by Cheap Trick. Well, pretty much. With "Rockford" being released in June 2006, it was mainly a case of "when" rather than "if". The initial news came through from Japanese fans in early Sept that the band were being advertised there as playing four dates in October, in conjunction with the Hard Rock Café's "Ambassadors of Rock" celebration during 2006.

Well, I'm always ready to go back to Japan. I've attended the last three Cheap Trick tours there, and it’s an amazing place to visit, plus I have a number of great Japanese friends who have always been generous enough to help me with some of the practicalities. But this trip for me came about in an odd, and (in terms of the CT tour) somewhat fortuitous way, as I was already scheduled to be in the Far East around that time.

It's been a very weird and stressful year for me at work, with the possibility of redundancy looming large for some months. During August, I'd decided to book myself a trip away for a few days somewhere new in early October, as I'd either be out of a job by then or still in a job but taking a week off to get away from the workplace stresses. I deliberated on where to go, and ended up deciding on Hong Kong, an interesting place that I'd never been to before. So I used airline miles to book a return trip there from 5-11th October. It was at the Illinois shows in early September that I heard about the Japanese shows in October, and as luck would have it, the first was to take place on the 13th which was two days after I'd been due to fly home from Hong Kong. When I got back to England I called KLM and managed to negotiate a change to my return date from Hong Kong, though I couldn't change my booking to fly home from Tokyo. I'd still have to return from Hong Kong due to some obscure airline rule. So I then set about finding return flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo, with United Airlines beating Northwest quite easily for price. Some good Japanese friends offered help to buy tickets for the shows and book a couple of the hotels, so things were pretty much set. So I had 5 days vacation in Hong Kong, followed by 9 days in Japan for CT shows to look forward to!

Thursday-Tuesday, 5-10 Oct - Hong Kong (non-Cheap Trick)

I'll try to keep this brief, as the main focus of this (and all my reviews) are the Cheap Trick shows, though I do like to give the travelogue too in order to give the full picture of the trip. And hey, some people might prefer the tourist details to the show reviews, ha! :-) I left rainy Manchester, England on the morning of Thursday October 5th. I was still feeling somewhat odd as for the first time in over 27 years I was unemployed. I'd accepted redundancy from my 25 year civil service career, and left my office on 30th September. I did have a temporary IT job to return to late in October so I had work, of sorts, to come home to. Anyway, work was the last thing on my mind as I sat in my airline seat watching the rain pour down outside.

The flight from Amsterdam to Hong Kong left mid-afternoon and flew overnight across Eastern Europe and the vast continent of Asia. Luckily I'd booked a Business Class seat outbound (using airline points), so I was able to relax for the 11 hour flight.

I arrived in Hong Kong around 8am local time on Friday morning, and upon leaving the terminal to find the bus service into the city, it felt like I'd walked into a hot, damp oven. The temperature was in the high 80's F and it was very humid too. I got to my hotel slightly north of Kowloon around mid-morning, and they were kind enough to let me check-in and have my room several hours early - I think they took pity on the pathetic, sweaty, tired and rumpled looking figure that presented itself to the smart check-in desk! I think my begging may have helped a little too! I found my room on the 27th floor, showered, and crashed for a few hours.

Gosh, I'm rambling already, so let's try to summarise rather than go through this non-Cheap Trick section day by day. And remember, you can always skip all this boring, travel related stuff and head straight down to the shows!

Hong Kong is an amazing place. It's hot, humid, chronically overcrowded, grubby in places yet spotlessly clean in others, vibrant, noisy, busy… a huge mass of humanity and business crowded into a ridiculously small area. I loved it, though I don't think I'd want to live there! The amazing harbour vista is breathtaking, looking across from the Kowloon peninsula across to the Hong Kong island shore. It was wonderful to sit at the harbour late in the afternoon in shirtsleeves and shorts, wait for dusk to fall and watch the tall offices and hotels opposite light up to create a stunning panorama. One evening I was lucky enough to catch the 15 minute "Symphony in Lights" show at the harbour, during which many of the buildings opposite took part in a light show with choreographed flashing neon, laser beams shooting from their roofs, plus fireworks in the harbour. One day I walked up to The Peak on Hong Kong Island, from where you can get stunning views over the harbour. I had no idea that this is best attempted only if you've first undertaken an intensive, Olympic standard endurance training programme! Talk about hard work, the steeply sloped path just wound up the mountainside relentlessly, seemingly never to end. I'm normally pretty good with lots of walking, but I really struggled. I eventually made it, just, and the first thing I had to do was buy a bottle of chilled water and chug it down in one go! Then buy another! The view from the observation deck is stunning. I went back up again late on an afternoon to see the view at night… this time I took the tram up which was much easier!

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On the way from the airport you pass some of the dockside, and you see the largest container port you'll ever see. I've never seen so many of those metal containers together in one place, literally tens of thousands of them. Of course Hong Kong is a huge exporter of goods, no wonder there were so many container ships and docks. Another amazing sight.

The street markets are vibrant and crowded, selling anything and everything. Indoor markets offer fresh fruit and vegetables, and fish and chickens can be killed and gutted in front of you for maximum freshness… uhh, no thanks! The main streets are crowded, and several long street markets are open until midnight. There's a ton of neon above so many streets, mostly unreadable in Chinese but very pretty. The backstreets were often grubby and presented a very different face to the many glossy, spotless and expensive shopping malls. But where else but the backstreets would you find shops selling coffins or snakes or unmentionable dried ingredients for Chinese medicinal use?

One day I took a fast jetfoil ferry for the 45 mile trip to nearby Macau, a former Portuguese enclave whereas the British had inhabited Hong Kong. I walked the length and breadth of Macau for 5 hours - whilst vibrant it wasn't anything like as crowded and overwhelming as Hong Kong can be. There's more feeling of space, though there are still very crowded neighbourhoods of busy apartment buildings and dark, narrow streets. The joy of Macau was in following the "tourist trail" to see a large number of mostly colonial buildings, often pastel coloured and lending brief, mildly surreal moments of seeing Mediterranean architecture in amongst crowded Chinese apartment or office buildings. Macau has been designated as a World Heritage site, and it was certainly well worth a visit. However, it is busy developing itself as the gambling capital of the region, with a number of Las Vegas type hotels already built, and with more on the way including one very tall hotel/casino under construction and dominating the skyline from wherever you look.

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It was a little sad to leave Hong Kong, but I did have Cheap Trick to look forward to in Japan. Hong Kong was a mass of contradictions, but it is an amazing place and definitely somewhere I want to return to and explore further in the not too distant future.

Wednesday 11 Oct - Hong Kong to Tokyo

An early morning out of my hotel, I caught a bus out to the airport around 5.40am, as the streets seemed to be just waking up. Check-in for the United flight to Tokyo was pretty quiet so I had a while to kill at the gate. The flight left Hong Kong just after 9am, and whilst climbing flew straight over Hong Kong harbour which was just visible below through the morning haze. During the 4 hour flight we passed by mountains and over a few, small and interesting looking islands. It was overcast at Tokyo's Narita Airport when the plane landed at 1.45pm local, and I decided to take an airport bus to my hotel. Whilst not as humid as Hong Kong, the weather was still hot and I just wanted the easiest way to the hotel rather than struggle on the train and Tokyo subway with my luggage.

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Whilst on the bus, it was interesting to note a difference between Hong Kong and Tokyo. Whilst Hong Kong is quite small but very high rise and concentrated, Tokyo, whilst crowded, just sprawls endlessly. Tokyo has its high rise buildings of course, but there is more of a feeling of space.

Got to my hotel around 4.30pm, and after a shower and nap, I walked out mid evening to some interesting backstreets nearby, and got myself something to eat.

Thursday 12 Oct - Tokyo

Another fine and dry morning, I took a walk out around the neighbourhood of my hotel, before heading to the Hard Rock Café at Roppongi. I'd heard that the band would be carrying out a press conference there late morning, but that the Café would be open as usual. Nice to see a large Cheap Trick/HRC Ambassadors of Rock poster in the window of the gift shop. The band arrived at 11.40am and headed straight to the upstairs level of the Café to carry out (I guess) individual interviews. I stayed down on the main restaurant floor, drinking ginger ale. The Café was familiar as the band had also given a press conference here in 2003. The same area as then (opposite the bar) had been set aside for some event with the band later. Several CT items were on temporary display in the area - a long, red velvet Hilfiger jacket of Tom's, a signed Tom Chandler (blue) bass guitar, a drum kit of Bun's, one of Rick's "Japan flag" guitars from 2003, Rick's custom saxophone guitar, one of Rick's white "Dream Police" sweaters from 79, a white suit of Robin's, a 2003 NFL/CT poster and an award to the band that they'd been presented with here in 2003.

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The band were introduced to this display area around 12.15pm, first by a Japanese gentleman, then by Don Bernstine of the Hard Rock Café chain. Don is the Acquisitions Manager for the HRC organisation, and can be seen with Rick (and others) in the "Hard Rock Treasures" DVD. It was mentioned that Cheap Trick were here as part of the HRC's 35th Anniversary celebrations, and also that they'd be at the official opening of the Tokyo-Narita HRC (near the airport) next week. Don asked the band members to introduce the items on display - Rick said that his sax guitar was made 21 years ago and digging into his pocket he brought out the extra pieces for it. Bun E said that the drum kit was his 1998 tour set. Robin apologised for a guitar of his that hadn't arrived as yet, and Tom noted that the blue bass was one of two made for him by Chandler. Photo's of the band were then taken by both the media and some of the fans in attendance, then Robin signed his white suit and Rick signed his sax guitar. With difficulty he also signed the Dream Police sweater! The band then signed two HRC Ambassadors of Rock guitars, and Rick even signed Don's t-shirt…the one that he was wearing!

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Don then conducted a short Q&A with the band. They were asked if they had any favourite HRC stories - Robin mentioned being at the Café in London when Boy George was hosting his birthday party, and someone dropped the cake! Rick also mentioned his thrill at meeting Jeff Beck at the London Café. He also mentioned the opening of the Philadelphia Café when the famous original London HRC waitress Rita was a guest. Both Rick and Robin mentioned bittersweet memories of playing with Selina at the San Antonio (Texas) café just a week before her death. Bun said that it was good to see stuff belonging to Keith Moon, Ginger Baker etc at HRC's, adding that "it's cool for my drums to be alongside theirs". Towards the end Robin asked "As a singer, why don't you (the HRC) collect microphones?" - I'm afraid I didn't get Don's reply.

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The press conference finished around 1pm and the band left. I had to dash too, as I had promised to meet Patricia at Narita Airport, she was arriving mid afternoon on a flight from Chicago. I fast walked back to the hotel, got a subway train to the enormous Tokyo Station and then rushed around, very confused, trying to find the small office that issued the tourist Japan Railways passes. I eventually found it, quickly got my 7 day Pass, rushed about a mile through the crowded station and just caught the 2.33pm airport train with about two minutes to spare! The train took an hour, and I had a further hour until Patricia finally emerged from Immigration and Customs. We quickly got her 7 day JR Pass and caught the next train back to Tokyo. Early in the evening we took a wander out to the nearby backstreets to find food. I decided against the fugu (blowfish) restaurant… I didn't have enough Yen and also wanted to live to see tomorrow! We ended up in a small, nondescript noodle bar that served very good noodles!

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Friday 13 Oct - Cheap Trick at Tokyo Shibuya (plus Cheap Track at Ginza, Tokyo)

Another hot and sunny day, and with a Cheap Trick show to look forward to later! After breakfast we took the subway to the market shops and Senso-Ji temple at Asakusa. With it being autumn there were artificial branches with gold and red leaves all along the covered marketplace leading to the temple. It was particularly interesting to see a religious service taking place in the (I believe) Buddhist temple, and it was cool to stop for a couple of minutes and quietly observe from outside. After that we took the tube to nearby Ueno Station where the smaller of Tokyo's two Hard Rock Café's is located, and decided to have an early lunch. There were no Cheap Trick items on display, but the Café, in common with other HRC's and many shops etc was heavily decorated for Halloween. After eating we went into nearby Ueno Park and the Zoo there. I'm not sure what the tapirs were up to in their water pool, I presume one was climbing on the other to get a better view of something? Ahem, look away children! I think I liked the gorilla's most. One chap sat very close to one of the glass windows of the large outdoor enclosure, and his face was almost human as he thoughtfully observed all the schoolchildren and tourists gawking at him and taking pictures. Mid afternoon we headed back to the hotel before heading out to Shibuya and the show.

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I managed to get us to Shibuya Station and eventually got my bearings enough to lead us in vaguely the right direction. A little way up the road to the venue, I heard a familiar voice and it was longtime friend Mariko from Nagoya! It was nice to see her so early! We carried on up the hill to the cobbled open space in front of the Shibuya Kokeido hall. One nice thing at Japanese shows is that merchandise is often sold from a venue doorway before the doors actually open for the show, so you can buy your souvenirs early. IDK Jon had produced two Japan tour t-shirt designs, plus a tour booklet, so it was nice to get mine before the crush inside. Whilst waiting for doors to open it was great to see many Japanese friends such as Yaico, Sachiko, Satoko, Mutsumi, Noriko, Yuko, Yumiko and many others (I'm very sorry I've forgotten some people I saw), as well as other very good friends, Mika, Junko, Hiromi, plus Mitsuru, Tokyo Zander, Shige and Kinko from Cheap Track!

Doors opened somewhere between 6.15-6.30pm by which time most of the sell out crowd were waiting to get in. The venue was a nice theatre type venue with a large stage. There was a large main floor, sloping gently upwards and with comfortable orange and light wood seats. Above and further back was a balcony with further seating. High above the stage, to both left and right were black banners, stating "Ambassadors of Rock", followed by the Hard Rock logo, below that the word "presents" and then a 2x Cheap Trick logo. There was no support band, and a buzzer sounded at 6.59pm for the scheduled 7pm start, though the lights didn't go down until 7.10pm.

RN - black suit with a red circle and skull & crossbones design on the rear of the jacket, black t-shirt with similar skull & crossbones logo
RZ - white straw hat, lace up black pants, black CT logo sleeveless t-shirt, fringed black jacket, shades
TP - black suit, white shirt
BC - black t-shirt, black jeans

Hello There, Big Eyes, Oh Candy, Welcome to the World, If You Want My Love, Perfect Stranger, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Voices, If It Takes a Lifetime, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen*, Goodnight Now*
(* with Scott Ian of Anthrax)

The lights went down, the drone came out of the speakers, and we heard roadie Dave Rule's familiar intro of "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls… will you please welcome to the stage, the best f***in' band THIS town has ever seen… CHEAP TRICK!!" And it was nice to see the mostly reserved Japanese crowd stand from the start.

During "Hello There", two 6x logo's were projected onto the rear stage screen, whilst during the next song "Big Eyes" there was rotating a checkerboard design. During the second song Rick broke a string on Uncle Dick but continued with that guitar, handing it to a fan at the front at the end.

The Japanese crowd were reservedly enthusiastic during the songs and would clap loudly at the end of each song, but curiously the applause would die away and you could then almost hear a pin drop in the polite silence before the next song or before Rick started talking to the audience. A very Japanese phenomenon.

After "Big Eyes" Rick greeted the crowd with an "Ohiyo Gozaimas" and "Konnichi wa" before stating in English "Its good to be back in Tokyo" which brought a cheer from the crowd. He also mentioned the new album "Rockford" as well as "Live at Budokan" before introducing the next song as being from "our first album… before we were born and before most of you were born!" The band then went into "Oh Candy".

After that song, Rick had the lights turned up and mentioned that there were friends in the crowd "from Budokan days… from Summersonic days… from Nagoya… from Nashville…" He also mentioned that Scott Ian from Anthrax was here, "we're going to see him tomorrow". The band then went into "Welcome to the World", after which Rick briefly continued in a high voice "Welcome to Tokyo!" He also thanked Mr Udo for bringing Cheap Trick back to Japan one more time, also the Hard Rock Café. He added "But more important… Thank YOU… Japan was our first home and hopefully our last home". The band then went into "If You Want My Love".

"Perfect Stranger" was a nice surprise to hear next, as its been dropped from the setlist in the US. Rick played the yellow Rockford guitar, and at the end of the song passed it to Cheap Track's Sushi Man in the front row. Rick mentioned Cheap Track, saying "Their material is great!" He then introduced the next song as being "a nice slow one off of our last CD"… and the band launched into "Best Friend". That was long and monster as always, and maybe it was my ears but I heard much of Tom's bass line through this much clearer than usual.

During the crowd pleasing "I Want You to Want Me" it was fun to see Rick playing up on his steps whilst Tom stood nearby, smiling up at Rick as if in awe. After that song Rick announced that the band hope to be back in 2008 and play back at Budokan, adding that the bands first tour of Japan was back in 1978. He then introduced "A living legend, and former resident of the great city of Tokyo, Japan… Mr Tom Petersson!" (One day I must ask Tom if there is anywhere in the world that he hasn't lived, however briefly!) Tom played a bass solo for a minute, which I found out a few days later was from Jimi Hendrix's "Burning the Midnight Lamp", before launching into "I Know What I Want".

At the end of the song, Rick noted that Tom's cousin was out in the audience somewhere. Someone in the crowd shouted out "He's a Whore" to which Rick quickly replied "Yes he is a whore… but he's still in the band!" He then introduced Robin as being "the best rock vocalist there ever was and ever will be", following which the band went into "Voices" and then "If It Takes a Lifetime".

In the quiet after that, there were a few calls of "Robeen" and "Bun Eeee", to which Rick comically replied "Asimasan?" Rick then noted that his son Aaron was here, and Rick also mentioned stage monitor man "Steve". After much persuasion, "Steve" reluctantly came out, and turned out to be a Japanese crew member… "Finally we have someone good on our crew" quipped Rick, before mentioning some of the regular American crew.

After "The Flame" Rick announced that "We're in Tokyo tonight, back in Tokyo another night… in Nagoya… Osaka… and the last day of the tour at the Hard Rock Narita". The band then went into that "70's Song", during which a psychedelic moving design was projected onto the backdrop. "Surrender" was the usual crowd pleaser, and saw two lots of the 6x logo projected onto the backdrop. One of Rick's ending lines was "Scott's alright", and at the end of the song he passed his heavy 5 neck to a fan in the front row. Robin took the mic to say "Thank you for having Cheap Trick, Domo Arigato… we really appreciate it".

After calls from the crowd in the dark, Rick came back on to ask, as usual, "Does that mean you want to hear some more?… Are you SURE you want to hear some more?" Yes, tonight's Tokyo crowd was sure! The band played "Dream Police" with checkerboard and CT logo's swirling on the backdrop. After that, Scott Ian from Anthrax came out with guitar, and joined the band on "Auf Wiedersehen". That was the highlight of the show in my opinion. Scott was very obviously enjoying himself, Tom was very animated and beaming at Scott throughout the song, and Rick was trying to get Scott to ham it up throughout! A fun time was had by all! At the end Scott went to leave the stage, but was prevented from doing so and "persuaded" to stay on for "Goodnight Now". Interesting to see Rick playing a new, smaller checkerboard 5 neck guitar… hmmm, where did that come from? The song saw 3 endings, and the show was over at 8.30pm. Which reminds me to mention that shows tend to start early here, hence you do see many people coming straight to the venues from their work, still wearing office suits and smart outfits.

I should also note that before leaving England 8 days ago I'd had an ear infection, and despite medication my hearing was still messed up in one ear. So whilst I thought the sound at this show wasn't good, I knew my hearing problems didn't make me a reliable judge. However, a number of Japanese fans afterwards also remarked on the poor sound, which was a shame. Overall I thought this tour opener had been solid without being outstanding. Maybe the sound or the venue took a bit of an edge off the performance?

But Friday wasn't over by a long way. After hanging around talking with friends for half an hour, a small group of us walked back to Shibuya and had noodles in a small noodle place near the station. Thank goodness for Japanese friends to explain and translate… you had to order and pay for your meal outside via a vending machine, getting a ticket in return. Then go inside, sit down and place your ticket on the counter, and you got served a bowl with your choice of noodle meal. Good stuff… though I was told that I was "rude" and didn't slurp enough! Ooops!

We then took a subway to the Ginza area, then going to a backstreet, downstairs club for another gig. We went down into a maze of corridors and got to the club at 10.15pm and the stage was still being set up for Cheap Track. We saw a number of friends and people wearing Cheap Trick (and Cheap Track) shirts sitting around bar tables. This was an outing for both the CT Japan Fan Club and fans of Tokyo's own CT tribute band! At 10.50pm, there were short introductions from Sushi Man and the head of the Japanese Fan Club… and then the Cheap Track show began at 10.55pm!

Sushi Man (Rick) - Black pants, black skulls sweater
Tokyo Zander (guess who) - straw hat, shades, blue jeans, black Cheap Track t-shirt, black fringed suede jacket
Kinko (Tom) - black shirt, black pants
Shige (drummer extraordinaire) - black top, blue jeans

Tonight It's You, Borderline, I Don't Love Here Anymore.

There was then a brief pause whilst Sushi Man talked a little in Japanese, mentioned fan Satoko's birthday, and presented her with a birthday drink! Then he got back on stage to resume…

One More Day, Don't Be Cruel, Girlfriends, Ghost Town, Give It Away, You're All Talk, So Good to See You.

The set took a short break at 11.40pm. What a terrific set, and well delivered too! These guys are all very capable musicians as well as being Cheap Trick fans, and it was fun to see Sushi Man be a Japanese version of Rick, whilst Tokyo Zander really looked the part and sang extremely well considering he speaks almost no English. Kinko is as reliable yet as understated as Tom on stage, whilst Shige was the master of the skins, his beat driving those in front of him.

Cheap Track resumed at 11.48pm, with some of Cheap Trick's crew arriving during the first of the next group of songs to join in the fun and enjoy the show!

Surrender, Dream Police, Need Your Love, Clock Strikes Ten, ELO Kiddies.

There was then a short break for some fan club activities and several nice CT related prized being won, including a much coveted jigsaw/tin from 79! A little later, around 12.45am, we saw Bun E's tech Matt (behind the drumkit) and Shige (on a single drum) play the "Ain't That a Shame" intro, then Cheap Track plus Matt guesting on drums played "Auf Wiedersehen" and "Just Got Back"! It all ended around 1am, with everyone having had a good time, and nice to have seen the CT crew guys get to relax and let their hair down. Oh, there was a big screen high up on the side wall too, and during the evening we'd also been able to see some CT performance on there.

We left the club around 2am, Patricia and I got a taxi back to our hotel, though did quickly pop over the road for a quick bite at the 24 hr MacDonalds nearby. And the odd thing was, at well after 2am there were still lots of business people out on the streets, coming out of clubs, bars and restaurants.

Saturday 14 Oct - Tokyo (non-CT day)

After such a late night I was thankful that this wasn't a show day! The day was again warm and only partly cloudy, and we were out of the hotel around 11am. We walked around the mostly private Imperial Palace Gardens, entering towards the north end where it is open to the public, and walked to that mecca for Cheap Trick fans… the Budokan. Unfortunately it was not open to the public due to a judo competition going on, but after I talked nicely to security they finally let us in for a minute, accompanied by an officer. I'd last been in here 7 years ago on my first visit to Japan, but I was still awestruck as we looked down into the venue where so many musical legends have played and which had literally made Cheap Trick famous!

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After that we took the subway to Shinjuku, where we had a wander around the very large (and confusing) Odakyu department store (I needed another suitcase as I'd shopped too much in Hong Kong and here, ooops!). We then took a walk through a canyon of tall office buildings until we reached the massive, but almost deserted Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices complex. I've worked in a Government department in Britain for many years, but I've never seen Govt offices like these! Despite the quietness, the lobby was open, and the elevators at the base of each tower were open to speed tourists up to the 45th floors for free to enjoy spectacular views of Tokyo. We went up both towers, though sadly it was too hazy to see Mt Fuji. However, you can see how huge and sprawling the Tokyo metropolitan area is, it stretches to the horizon in every direction, a vision of concrete only briefly punctuated by small areas of green park and woodland.

After that we took the subway to Roppongi and a late afternoon meal at the Hard Rock Café. No major CT items were to be seen inside, though on the stairwell was a framed poster for the upcoming CT shows with a few photo's from the press conference two days ago. Lower down on the stairwell was a collage of pictures of famous visitors, and there's a shot of Rick and Tom from the late 80's I'd guess. We sat and had dinner, and I went and asked the VJ if he could maybe put a CT song on the video. He put on the Live at Hard Rock video from 1997, and allowed it to play all 5 songs! For the record, "I Want You to Want Me", "Carnival Game", "Dream Police", "Say Goodbye" and "Surrender". I hope some of the other patrons took notice!

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We then walked in the gathering dusk to nearby, posh Roppongi Hills shopping mall, but no luck with any store with luggage. We headed back to the hotel, but I went back out again for an hour to busy Shibuya. I bought the Japanese versions of two commercially available CT DVD's ("Silver" and "Live in Australia") at Tower Records there, and finally managed to find a reasonably priced, mid sized suitcase! So I was able to repack later that evening before we got travelling tomorrow, back on the concert trail.

Sunday 15 Oct - Cheap Trick at Nagoya

We were up early and out of the hotel before 9am, as we had to get the subway to the large Tokyo railway station and find out where to get a particular train to Nagoya. Getting around with two suitcases wasn't fun, particularly given the warm though overcast weather. At Tokyo station I struggled to make a ticket clerk understand which train we wanted seat reservations on, but I finally managed. We found the correct platform and made it onto the 10.06am train. The Shinkansen (bullet train) was a limited stopping service, and its first calling point was Shinagawa in the south of Tokyo, where good friends Mari and Mika joined the train and founds seats in our carriage. About 45 minutes out of Tokyo I caught a very hazy glimpse of the top of Mt Fuji - for me no visit to Japan is complete without seeing this perfect and mystical mountain. We passed through some hills, and then burst onto the plain from where we had a moderately clear view of the mountain. That made me feel very genki :-)

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We reached Nagoya around noon and Mari led us to the nearby Meitetsu Hotel where she'd kindly booked us a room. After I got a quick shower (it's hot work travelling with two suitcases!), we took a subway to near the venue for today's show. It was very quiet at the Diamond Hall, so we had lunch in a small Café opposite. I'd seen CT here back in 2001 I think, with the actual venue being on the 5th floor of what outwardly looked to be a nondescript office building.

We were back at 2.20pm and we waited around in the 5th floor foyer for a while. Through the foyer window we saw the band arrive around 3pm to soundcheck, though I've no idea what they played. Like at Shibuya Tokyo, this venue did a pre-sale of merchandise for about 30 minutes to 3.45pm.

This was an all-standing venue, and being a Sunday the show was early with CT due on at 5pm with no support act. The majority of the crowd was waiting well before doors were due to open at 4.30pm, and out of curiosity I followed the line at 4.15pm to see how many were waiting. The line started at the top of the stairwell entrance to the 5th floor lobby, and snaked round and round down all 5 floors. Although all standing, this wasn't all general admission, with the first several hundred tickets being numbered. The stairwell had paper sheets with numbers, showing where tickets 1-50 were to stand, then 51-100 and so on down the stairwell. The line then snaked out into the street, where it did become GA for those without numbered tickets. It ran along the street for maybe 20 yards, then snaked into another buildings stairwell and snaked upstairs for about 4 flights! Amazing! And being in Japan, the line etiquette was meticulously and politely observed.

Doors opened at 4.30pm to the venue. Inside was a moderately sized square black club/hall, which would hold perhaps 1200-1500. There was a large main floor, then a raised level with the sound and lighting boards and standing room to either side. Behind that was one more slightly raised level at the rear. There was a small seating area upstairs to one side of a shallow balcony, this seating reserved for VIPs I guess. The room was mainly black, but with some red designs and red doors. The stage was smallish, and with a big HRC Ambassadors of Rock/Cheap Trick logo banner hanging above and behind Bun's drumkit.

Shortly before the band were due to come on stage, a Japanese woman started talking in a monosybillic voice, explaining the rules of no photography etc, which seems to be a standard announcement before gigs in Japan. Then we briefly heard a familiar Illinois voice saying "People think its good! Cheap Trick!" - trust Rick to get in on the act! Much of the crowd recognised his voice and cheered! The venue was pretty full by 4.55pm, we were standing right behind the soundboard so had a good view over heads on the main floor. There was another short announcement in Japanese at 5pm, the lights went down at 5.05pm the crowd cheered and Dave Rule's band introduction could be heard. It was early on in this show that I noticed that Colin and not Dave was teching for Robin and Tom, so we were hearing a recording of the band introduction.

RN - black suit as last night, black t-shirt with small, round Beatles logo
RZ - white straw hat, blue jeans, black CT logo t-shirt, blue denim jacket
TP - black pants, black "The Who" 84 -The Kids Are Alright" tour t-shirt
BC - black jeans, black t-shirt

Hello There, Big Eyes, Oh Candy, Welcome to the World, If You Want My Love, Come On Come On Come On, Best Friend, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Voices, If It Takes a Lifetime, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

The atmosphere for this show was pretty electric from the start, and just went to show that, regardless of the country, the best Cheap Trick shows are mostly in crowded, intimate, all standing club type venues. The collective energy and enthusiasm of the crowd obviously transmits itself to the band, resulting in a far more intense and satisfying show. Well, that's my opinion.

What a cool opening, to hear the enthusiastic crowd roar as "Hello There" started up, and seeing Tom in his "Who" t-shirt and playing his bass with mod target design! The great crowd enthusiasm continued through "Big Eyes" with a lot of clapping during the song. And whilst my ears were still messed up (as they were throughout the trip), I could tell that the sound was much better today.

After "Big Eyes" Rick announced that "it was good to be in Nagoya again" which went down well. He added that "We have a new CD out called "Rockford"… and 25 old CD's out not called "Rockford"!" And then he started naming them, reaching "Dream Police" before giving up. The next song, "Oh Candy" was well received, and at the end Rick passed his guitar to a fan at the front. He then thanked the crowd with an "Arigato", before saying "Robin Zander" which caused a cheer… "Tom Petersson" - cheer… "Bun E Carlos" - cheer… NAGOYA!"… cheer! The band then went into "Welcome to the World".

After that ended, Rick again thanked the crowd, he was slightly breathless and drew out the syllables - "Do…mo… Ari… gato!" He thanked the crowd for coming out on a Sunday afternoon to see Cheap Trick, then asked "How about those Tigers?" That was aimed at soundman Bill I think, him being a Detroit resident. "Detroit swept Oakland" Rick explained, referring to the baseball playoffs back home.

The next song was "If You Want My Love", following which were crowd calls for "Robeen! Robeen!" in the dark pause. Rick then announced that the band were "going to play a new one, which we didn't play in Tokyo, only in Nagoya". And they then went into "Come On Come On Come On" with Rick playing his square Rockford guitar. The crowd really bounced along with this, and I think a detected a few seconds of a slightly different bridge mid-song… Afterwards Rick held up his guitar, announcing that it was "in Japan for the first time". He then handed it off to a fan at front, and surprisingly told the fan to pass it around so everyone could see it. That was weird but cool, seeing this yellow guitar being enthusiastically yet reverently being "body surfed" through many hands through the crowd. This went on for a couple of minutes, and both Rick's son Aaron and I moved into the crowd tracking the guitar just in case. But there was no need to worry. Tom stood over on Rick's side of the stage and smiling, beckoned the guitar back. And as if with a life of its own, it changed direction in the sea of hands and headed to the front and safely back into Rick's hands! That was very cool to watch, and Rick topped it off by saying "Now this is my favourite guitar" and kissed it before handing it back to his tech Wookie. He then introduced the next song as being "a slow, slow song from… our… last… CD… This… is… called… Best… Friend". And indeed it was. But it got played at the normal speed!

"Best Friend" was awesome as ever, maybe slightly more so tonight. During his opening falsetto lines, Rick substituted "Nagoya, Kudasai", and later during the guitar frenzy, Robin was really rocking out, first at Tom's stage spot and then at the backline to the rear of the stage. At the end Rick held up three fingers… uh, E minor, C and A Rick? ;-)

The perennial crowd pleaser "I Want You to Want Me" followed, with the crowd enthusiastic throughout. Afterwards Rick introduced "on the drums, Mr Bun E Carlos!" and he also started up the "Bun E chant" which the crowd took up. He added "Bun E says arigato". He then noted "Steve, our monitor man" again and got the reluctant and bashful Japanese tech to come out onto the stage again and say a few words. Rick added "We found him in Tokyo… we don't understand a word he says but he's a nice guy! Thanks Steve for delaying the show so much!" He went on "Speaking of nice guys… I've known him since High School… the inventor of the 12 string bass guitar, and former resident of Nagoya Japan… Mr Tom Petersson!" Tom again did that Jimi solo before launching into "I Know What I Want". At the end he almost gave his bass to a fan at front… but didn't! Afterwards Rick pointed out Japanese drummer and producer Hiro Shiga up in the small balcony, and also mentioned his son Aaron - "He's probably in the dressing room drinking beer!"

After "If It Takes a Lifetime" Tom and Rick got given paper fans by people at the front and stood and fanned themselves. It took me a few moments to realise that the fans were each band members cartoon face from the "Rockford" CD cover! Ones for Robin and Bun got to each of them too. Looking at the masks Rick commented on the "very handsome men!" then introduced "The handsome Mr Zander" for "The Flame".

Rick had some guitar problems during the "70's Song", with his guitar briefly cutting out a few times. Towards the end of a well received "Surrender" Rick changed a line to "We're all genki!" and Robin thanked the crowd at the end, adding "We'll see you down the road apiece".

The crowd vociferously wanted more, and Rick came back on first, downing a bottle of water before throwing the empty into the crowd for someone's souvenir. "Dream Police" actually saw a false start for some reason, but moments later the band launched into the song. "Goodnight Now" again saw the smaller checkerboard 5 neck played, and 3 endings. At the end Rick took off his jacket and flexed his biceps, before shouting "Yeah! Arigato!" to the crowd. The show ended at 6.28pm.

I thought this had been a markedly more enjoyable show than the first in Tokyo. The setting was more intimate, the crowd were more enthusiastic, the sound was better and I think all those things combined to sharpen up the band too. All had turned in fine performances and it had been a fine and fun show.

Afterwards we had a light Japanese meal and beers with Mari and Mika before they had to leave, Mika had a 3 hour trip back to Tokyo tonight for work in the morning, ouch. Pat and I briefly stopped back at the hotel, before going out to try to find the Nagoya Hard Rock Café to shop. We eventually found it, and on the way up the stairs from the merchandise store saw a signed Cheap Trick picture on the wall! It was of the inside cover of the "One on One" LP, signed by the band members. Up in the Café we saw some of the "From Tokyo To You" DVD played on the video system, and saw several friends having supper. It was nice for me to briefly meet Hiro Shiga there too. We didn't stay long, but it was good to visit to shop and spot the CT item on display (now added to my Cheap Trick/Hard Rock Café page hardrock.htm ).

Monday 16 Oct - Cheap Trick at Osaka

I know this is getting monotonous, but it was another nice, warm and sunny day, with a beautiful clear blue sky. Another day, another city and another show. We popped out mid-morning to buy some breakfast in the large, underground shopping city underneath the railway station area, it really is easy to get lost down there! And oddly, we saw a lot of Japanese having to stand in line, waiting for a French style bakery counter to open at 10am. Must have been good bread!

Mari came and met us at the hotel as we checked out, and we headed to the railway station (yes, again I had too much luggage in tow!) and we caught the 12.23pm train for the hour long journey south to Osaka, briefly passing through the historic city of Kyoto that, yet again, I haven't had time to visit.

Luckily our hotel was near the railway station, so it was good to quickly leave luggage in the somewhat cramped room. We took a subway through Osaka and out somewhere, I honestly have no idea where! Normally I'm pretty good with directions and travelling, but in Osaka for some reason I was clueless! We did end up near the venue though, and Mari led us along an elevated, covered walkway towards a smart office/shopping complex where the IMP Hall was located. Almost the first place we saw was a "Mr Donut" store, with a large counter of American style donuts! I briefly drooled like Homer Simpson, though to my continuing regret, I didn't buy anything. D'OH!! It was the latter part of the afternoon, so we got a Subway meal before Mari and Pat killed time in the smart but quiet, small mall.

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I was able to get into the venue and the band soundchecked around 6pm with "Oh Caroline", followed by Rick and Robin doing "Ghost Town" and Rick then played some soft solo guitar, "Give It Away". I also discovered that the new checkerboard 5 neck was made by Fernandes, given to Rick in Tokyo. The necks aren't in the same order as on the regular 5 neck, with the centre neck being fretless. Each neck ended in a checkerboard headstock, and this mini beast also had speaker cones within the body, though the speakers had been disabled.

This venue was another fairly intimate one, being a small, modern seated room. There were 4 rows of flat seating to stage front, then 6 rows slightly raised, and then 13 more rows of banked seating. The walls were grey, and the room had an interesting cream coloured, wave like ceiling. The stage set up was as described before with a large CT/HRC banner. Also, the Rick, Robin and Tom cartoon face fans given at Nagoya last night could be seen wedged in the backline.

The crowd were let in around 6.30pm, and the band came on at 7.05pm to a big welcome.

RN - black pants, light, fine checked jacket, black Imus t-shirt
RZ - black hat, black pants, loose white shirt, long black jacket
TP - black suit with long jacket, Astro Boy t-shirt
BC - black jeans, black t-shirt

Hello There, Big Eyes, Oh Candy, Welcome to the World, If You Want My Love, Come On Come On Come On, I Can't Take It, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Voices, If It Takes a Lifetime, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

Like in Nagoya, the crowd were enthusiastic and standing from the start, and early on Rick got his brownie points by announcing "Just in case you're not sure, we are Cheap Trick… and it's good to be back in Osaka once again!" That was well received of course! Although this was a seated venue, with everyone standing it felt more intimate, and the atmosphere and enthusiasm felt similar to last night in Nagoya.

After "Welcome to the World" Rick announced "Before I forget, hello to our friends from the Hard Rock Café", to which there was no applause. Nor to mention of the promoter, Mr Udo. Rick then asked the crowd if they felt like singing tonight, adding "this couldn't be Live at Budokan… but live at Osaka-kan!" The band then launched into "If You Want My Love", which got much of the crowd singing along. Afterwards he congratulated the crowd, "Nice voices, Osaka". He then added "The next song we're going to do is from…" and he held up the Rockford guitar. "This one's called… you'll hear it in a minute!" It turned out to be "Come On Come On Come On".

At the end of that song Rick gave the guitar to a fan in front, but it was quickly retrieved by Rick's tech Wookie. Rick said a few words to him, and he removed the strap and gave the strap back to that fan, which brought an envious sigh from the crowd. Rick got it back and like at Nagoya last night, he sent to guitar on its way into the crowd. The band started playing "I Can't Take It" whilst the Rockford guitar was meeting many delighted residents of Osaka, and a couple of us kept track of its travels during the song. Aaron eventually got it and returned it to Wookie sidestage.

"I Want You to Want Me" had the crowd all jazzed up as always, and afterwards, Rick introduced Bun E and a sort of Bun E chant/clap started in the crowd. Rick also noticed a "Congratulations, 30th Anniversary" sign in the crowd, "Happy Birthday to Cheap Trick!" he noted. He then started a short bout of synchronished Japanese clapping, then introduced "The inventor of the 12 string bass guitar, the biggest fan of Osaka Japan, and wearing a shirt bought in Osaka in…err…1977! Mr Tom Petersson!" Tom again did the Jimi solo before starting up and singing "I Know What I Want".

After the applause for that song had died down, there a very quiet pause, prompting Robin to go "shhhhhh…. Be vewy vewy qwiet" in an Elmer Fudd style whisper! Rick added "Like Robin said, be very, very quiet… well, not that quiet!" Robin then briefly strummed his guitar and Rick did some "yeah's!" along with that, all very impromptu Robin and Rick then proceeded to bow in turn to each other several times like in some comedy skit! They were obviously having fun.

For "Voices", Rick played the safely returned yellow "Rockford" guitar, but it went back to Wookie at the end! After "If It Takes a Lifetime" Rick asked "Is it hot up here? Hai" and he flicked some sweat out to the crowd! He had the lights up and pointed out soundman Bill. There was no applause. He then pointed out soundman Larry. Silence again, or as Rick noted "even less applause". He then said "Steve" Come out!" After two nights of attention, Japanese "Steve" knew what was expected and he came onto the stage and briefly spoke in Japanese. Rick jokingly noted "Finally we got someone good with us on our crew" and started giving a somewhat garbled explanation of why the real Steve wasn't here. He then got "Steve" back out again, and made him again speak to the crowd. Both Rick and Robin held him and Robin asked "What's your favourite rock band?" to which he quickly replied "Cheap Trick!" With smiles he got released, and Rick announced that "The next song features Steve's new best friend, Mr Robin Zander!" The band then played "The Flame", with Rick having to change guitar mid-song.

The set closed with "That 70's Song" followed by "Surrender", and I wondered if one of the 5 necks was slightly out of tune… or maybe it was Rick playing a bad note or two!

When coming on for the encore Rick again threw out his used water bottle into the crowd. He then fired up the crowd with "Does that mean you want to hear some more?" and "Are you sure you want to hear some more?" He then excitedly pointed out on stage "Tom Petersson!". Then "Bun E Carlos!". Then "Robin Zander!" and pointed into the crowd on his side of the stage… and lo, Robin had gone off stage and come back into the venue through the side door and into the crowd! I've never seen that before, and Rick helped Robin up onto the stage.

The encore was "Dream Police" followed by "Auf Wiedersehen" and ending with "Goodnight Now" with Rick playing that Fernandes 5 neck. The song saw five, yes FIVE endings, and Rick milked the goodbyes before leaving the stage! The show ended at 8.23pm.

Afterwards Mari and a friend took us to the small "Silver Spoon" sports/music bar somewhere in the backstreets of Osaka, as it was "Cheap Trick Night" there! Well, it wasn't crowded, but it was fun. There were a couple of big screens showing CT video's which we watched whilst eating snacks and drinking beer. The small bar had mostly KISS memorabilia on display, but also various LP covers by other bands on one wall, including Cheap Trick's "Dream Police". It was fun, and we got back to our hotel close to Shin-Osaka station around 11pm.

Tuesday 17 Oct - Cheap Trick at Shinjuku, Tokyo

The home leg of this somewhat frantic tour (travelling wise), and we were heading back up to Tokyo. The morning was warm again, but hazy, and we caught the 9.43am Shinkansen (bullet train) for Tokyo. We'd certainly been lucky a couple of days ago getting a reasonably good view of Mt Fuji, as we didn't see it at all on this return journey. We reached Tokyo Station at 12.45pm and we got a taxi to our hotel, as I just couldn't face the subway with my luggage! One day I'll travel light… maybe!

We left mid afternoon for Shinjuku, finding the venue around 3pm, but there was no sign of much activity. The front of the venue was built into an office building, inside the glass doors were Vegas type maroon carpeted stairs with lighting to each stair. There was also a small, electronic sign near the head of the stairs advertising the show. With things quiet, Mari, Pat and I decided to use the opportunity to eat so ate at the nearby "Wellness Burger" café. I felt very well afterwards.

The band arrived for soundcheck around 4.45pm, with soundcheck actually starting at 5.10pm and the band playing "Oh Caroline". Rick and Robin then played "Love Comes" and soundcheck ended at 5.22pm.

The inside of the venue was another large theatre, with a big stage. The stage was so big that the band's mic's were set back quite away from the front of the stage. A security fence was put in front of the front row, so the gap from the stage to the crowd was some 10-12 feet. There were 22 rows of plush, deep pink seating, and more rows upstairs in a large balcony. The dark beige ceiling was high, and there were large, cream coloured baffle panels to the side walls. There were two HRC/CT banners, one high up on each side of the stage.

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Back outside it was a pleasure to see long time CT friend Danny Saint from LA, who was actually in Tokyo on a business trip and had been very lucky with the timing! Mari, Pat, Danny and I had a couple of beers before doors opened at 6.30pm. The venue looked pretty full by the time the band came on at 7.06pm.

RN - black suit, black t-shirt with skull & crossbones design
RZ - black lace up pants, CT logo shirt, fringed leather jacket, shades, no hat
TP - black Who 84 tour t-shirt, black pants
BC - black t-shirt, black jeans

Hello There, Clock Strikes Ten, He's a Whore, Welcome to the World, If You Want My Love, Come On Come On Come On, Perfect Stranger, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Voices, If It Takes a Lifetime, Flame, 70's Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

The crowd were livelier tonight than at the first Tokyo show a few days ago, applauding Bun E as he was led to his drumkit, and standing for the show from the start. During "Hello There" the double 6x logo design was projected onto the stage backscreen. Since we were back in Tokyo, it was nice to get a couple of song changes to the set, the first being "Clock Strikes Ten" which got a great reception from the crowd, followed by "He's a Whore". After that, Rick reminded the crowd that "… we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes, Cheap Trick!" The band went from first album to last, playing "Welcome to the World", at the end of which Rick took quite a risk in throwing his guitar to a fan at front (remember that big gap from the front of the stage). His tech Wookie had to jump down into the gap to retrieve the guitar, and when he returned to the mic, Rick nodded in the direction of the fan and said "Very good catch!" He then commented on the fine looking crowd, adding that this was the bands 5th show in Japan. A voice from offstage said "4th", causing Rick to apologise and correct himself, "Asimasen, our 4th show in Japan".

After "If You Want My Love" Rick noted the "world famous Aki", adding that "if you've followed Cheap Trick (in Japan) for more than 20 years you've probably been shouted at by Aki!" He also noted Sushi Man and particularly his toddler aged daughter, "Sushi Baby!" as he called her!

After "Come on Come On Come On" Rick held up his Rockford guitar to a cheer from the crowd, pointed to his caricature on the guitar then to himself. Yep, one and the same! Whilst Robin put on his straw hat sidestage, Rick went on "The first thing I did when I got to Japan was get a new guitar! … course… I got this in Chicago!" The crowd didn't really react, so Rick gave that up and the band went into "Perfect Stranger". It had been nice to hear again, having been in the setlist for only a relatively short time whilst it was the first single release from "Rockford". Hopefully it'll come back into the setlist again sometime.

After "Perfect Stranger" Rick asked if this was a Detroit Tigers crowd, then asked "Cheap Trick is good?"… "Sorry, I can't hear you". Again, this showed the very Japanese trait of applauding a song loudly and then going very quiet.

After "I Want You to Want Me" there was a break whilst Rick played the crowd again. He thanked Mr Udo for "bringing Cheap Trick back to Japan for the 400th time", then thanked the Hard Rock which was celebrating 35 years, and got their chief HRC contact for the tour, a Japanese man called Teddy, onto the stage to say a few words. After Teddy finished, Rick did some press ups! "I don't know what he said, but I don't think it was very good!" joked Rick. He then introduced Tom, saying that "he just gave an interview to Japan's Bass Guitar magazine, so buy 5,000 copies each! Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Tom Petersson!"

After the end of "I Know What I Want", the applause died down to silence again, which just felt a little weird each time. Rick noted the good looking audience, also Don Bernstine from the Hard Rock Café ("ugly Gaijin!" Rick joked) and also said hello to Cheap Track, "Tokyo's best Cheap Trick cover band". After "If It Takes a Lifetime" Rick noted a couple more people, before Bun E briefly started the "ELO Kiddies" beat which brought a cheer from the crowd. Then the band started up "The Flame". During the "70's Song" the psychedelic background and logo's were projected, with the double 6x logo during "Surrender".

There was checkerboard on the backdrop for the first song of the encore "Dream Police", and a nice, long Tom intro to Auf Wiedersehen. "Goodnight Now" saw the logo on the backdrop and two endings. The show ended at 8.25pm, and whilst this had been a better performance than at the opening Tokyo show, the difference in atmosphere between these large theatre venues and the smaller club venues had been evident. But take nothing away, the band had all performed well tonight.

After milling around in the foyer with friends, a group of maybe 18-20 of us went walking to find a restaurant nearby with room for us all. We finally found a place below the street by a subway station, and we had a very enjoyable meal with lots of small courses of both sushi and cooked foods. I tried unsuccessfully to keep up with Tokyo Zander beer for beer, but I think I failed! I also shared sake with Danny F'n Saint and others, and surprisingly I was still pretty sober when we left and said goodbyes, some heading back up to street level whilst others (including us) headed to the subway platform. Happily Noriko and Mitsumi were at the same hotel so could lead us back comfortably. It was nice to get to bed around midnight!

Wednesday 18 Oct - Cheap Trick at Hard Rock Cafe, Tokyo Narita (acoustic set)

The last full day in Japan, the time had just flown by, not only in Japan but for my whole trip. We didn't really manage to do much during the nice, warm but hazy morning. We went to Tokyo Station and spent time investigating trains to/from Narita station (not the airport but the town) for tonight's Hard Rock Café appearance by the band). After that we went to the Ginza and walked a bit along that, seeing the grand Kabuki-za Theatre in amongst all the expensive designer stores.

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We agreed to meet Danny at his hotel and all take the train together to Narita… except I misunderstood where his Shinjuku hotel was and eventually arrived about 20 minutes later than planned. We rushed back to Shinjuku station in a taxi, got the subway to Tokyo Station, and the morning's research and familiarisation paid dividends as we took the shortest route to the correct platform and managed to catch the 3.19pm train to Narita. The sun was shining as the train headed out through the suburbs, stopping at occasional stations, but we made it to Narita in about an hour. We had a little confusion with a taxi driver at the station as to where the new Hard Rock Café was, but we told him the shopping mall in which it is apparently located, and he drove us through narrow streets for several minutes. I must admit to being a little apprehensive about whether we were going to the right place with the language barrier and all, but we reached a mall and we spotted a small HRC sign nearby so happily the taxi driver had brought us to the right place. The Mall was large, clean, bright and spacious, with the HRC located near one entrance. I have to admit that I found it curious that the HRC organisation had put a café here, as it was well away from where tourists would go, and not exactly a short walk from Tokyo Narita Airport either. Hmmm, time will tell as to its success…

There was a rope barrier already in place outside the Cafe, so that fans would wait in an orderly line, and at 4.45pm we were not the first fans here. There was a nice, framed CT/HRC poster on an easel at the doorway, the same poster as seen in Tokyo. The merchandise store was open, but the Café itself was closed for this "private event", with most attendees having won admission through radio station competitions I believe. This show was an "Opening Party" of sorts, though the Café had actually opened for business a couple of weeks earlier. We were lined up outside as HRC staff and CT's crew were finishing setting up for the bands performance inside. Whilst waiting I did of course shop in the store… I'm afraid I do so in every HRC, and my suitcases wouldn't thank me later!

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The band arrived at 5.40pm, and I gather spent a little time shopping in the merchandise store before going to soundcheck. My hearing was still messed up, but around 6.15pm Danny said he could hear Robin singing "Borderline", followed by "I Don't Love Here Anymore" and "If It Takes a Lifetime". The fans were let in at 6.30pm, and were able to go to a small, makeshift "stage" area, where 4 stools were set up for the band members to sit on whilst they played a short acoustic set. One nice detail was the checkerboard linoleum that had been laid on the "stage" floor. After a short introduction in Japanese, the band came on at 7.01pm.

RN - black pants, black t-shirt with some design, black jacket with several badges/pins, nice multicoloured shoes
RZ - white HRC cap, black suit including waistcoat, white shirt, pink tie, silk scarf and fancy patterned shoes
TP - a bluish-green paisley shirt, dark jeans
BC - black t-shirt and black jeans

Hello There, Ain't That a Shame, I Want You to Want Me, If It Takes a Lifetime, Flame, Surrender, Goodnight Now

Before they started, Robin said "Domo arigato" to the crowd of maybe a couple of hundred fans and HRC staff who were crowded into the Café to watch. The band started up with "Hello There", Bun E playing with just a snare drum and brushes, whilst Tom played a 4 string Gibson Thunderbird bass. After that song, Rick thanked the crowd and welcomed them to the Hard Rock Narita. He added "We're going to play a few songs, then we're all getting on an airplane together". "Ain't That a Shame" was next, which was a nice surprise acoustic, and which I haven't heard onstage in quite awhile. In the short break after that ended, Rick and Robin did a line of "Don't Be Cruel" for some reason that I can't recall. Rick then noted that each member of CT was wearing some HRC item, and added that Danny Saint had come all this way for the Hard Rock Café and not Cheap Trick!

Next up was "I Want You to Want Me", the first chorus of which Robin sang pretty bluesy (not "Didn't I didn't I didn't I see you crying…" but more like "Didn't I… see ya cry-in…"), though on subsequent chorus he reverted to the standard style. After that, Rick remarked that "Our latest tour ended yesterday, with one more stop here at Narita and we wish this Café a lot of success". He added that "We have a new CD, which is going to be bigger than Live at Budokan… (!!)… this next song is "If It Takes a Lifetime"… like Cheap Trick!"

After this song Rick thanked or mentioned several people, including the "Hard Rock chorus for singing the chorus so nicely!" (many of the Café servers and bar staff were enjoying the show too); also "Don Bernstine, "for creating the Hard Rock Café and Rock & Roll single handedly!" (Don was here tonight); Hiroshi, Steve the monitor guy… and ending with "Thanks to our road crew for getting drunk every night!" The band then played "The Flame".

Rick then said they had time for one more song, and that Bun E was going to China to do a drum clinic… "teaching drumming to millions of Chinese!" After a few more words, Rick noted that "Something fell off… not my chimpo!… or maybe it was!" That somewhat suggestive comment caused some laughs as Rick and his tech messed with something around his person, Rick adding "Asimasen… my chimpo did fall off!" Being just a few feet away, I'm happy to report that Rick's "chimpo" was something technical rather than something personal! By the way, what is a chimpo anyway…?

The band then played "Surrender", followed by "Goodnight Now" (which wasn't on the setlist) with 3 endings, and the set finished at 7.32pm. It had been a nice, relaxed acoustic set by the band, and they looked to have enjoyed playing that way for half an hour.

The band retired to a side room, whilst the tech's set about dismantling the equipment, the Café staff set about restoring the restaurant for customers, and Don Bernstine was interviewed in front of the rapidly dismantling stage.

It was appropriate that with CT having played this "Opening Party", that there were several CT items permanently on display on the walls here. On one of the main walls were three items together - a Filmore, San Francisco "Budokan show" poster from April 98 signed by Tom; a picture of Rick from around 78; and a checkerboard Gibson guitar, beneath which was a plate noting that the guitar was painted and signed by Rick as part of the first, annual "Rock the Cure" celebrity guitar auction at the Los Angeles HRC. But those weren't the only CT items - quite by luck I noticed on a pillar facing the bar a "Dream Police" album Platinum Award, signed by Rick and "Presented to Gregg, April and Baron, Good Luck with the Hard Rock Biloxi".

It was nice to mingle with some of the Japanese fans, including a young woman called Hiroko, who was wearing a lovely shirt, hand embroidered front and back with the names of CT's albums plus a US map. That was really impressive!

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As well as having small TV monitors scattered in the Café, a large video screen was downloaded at the "stage" area and there was a big cheer as the Cheap Trick - HRC performance from 1997 was screened! Gradually band members left, though Robin stayed afterwards for quite awhile, signing lots of autographs and posing for photo's with fans.

Six of us left at 10pm to get taxi's to the railway station, and Danny, Pat, Noriko, Mutsumi, Hiromi and I all had a fast beer (bought from the convenience store right next to the station!) to celebrate the end of the evening. We all (except Hiromi) got the 10.31pm train back to Tokyo Station where we said our goodbyes to Noriko and Mutsumi. Danny, Pat and I caught the same subway train, and as we got off before him, I do hope Danny remembered to get off at Shinjuku!

Thursday-Friday, 19-20 Oct - Travelling home (via Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Manchester)

My own personal magical mystery tour! Well, for the last morning in Tokyo, I repacked and we had a wander (and early lunch) just in the area near our hotel before checking out of the room at noon. It was yet another warm and sunny day, and I was reminded of similar weather for my first trip to Japan back in 1999, also in October. We caught an airport shuttle bus back to Narita early afternoon, and checked in with our respective airlines. After enduring long lines to go through security and immigration, we eventually caught up again airside before I had to board my plane for Hong Kong, whilst Pat was flying directly back to Chicago.

My United flight took off at 6.25pm, and it was clear enough en-route to see the lights of Taipai and other places below. I landed at Hong Kong at 9.20pm local time, had to wait awhile for my cases to arrive on the carousel, and then had a frustrating time finding the free shuttle bus to my nearby airport hotel. I eventually found the desk dealing with that, had to wait another 25 minutes, and found that myself and others going to the hotel had to load our suitcases onto the minibus front seats and squeeze ourselves in around them. Very odd. It was as warm and humid as when I'd left last week, and it was good to finally reach the hotel, check-in and get to my room by 11.30pm. The room was really nice, but expensive for the 7 hours I'd be in it. C'est la vie…

I was up at 6am Friday morning after a few short hours of sleep, and got the 7am shuttle back to the airport. I was quickly checked in for my KLM flight to Amsterdam (in Economy this time). After some time in the lounge, I boarded the plane at 9.30am to find that I'd been given a mid-row seat rather than an aisle seat as I'd booked weeks ago :-(   The 747 took off at 10.32am, and the large man next to me was asleep for most of the 12 hour flight so it was nearly impossible to get out to move around or use the toilet. In fact, I only managed to get out twice in 12 hours, grrrr!

It was mid afternoon local time when we landed at overcast Amsterdam Schipol Airport. About 80 minutes later I boarded my flight bound for Manchester and landed back in at dark but dry England at 6.43pm. I got my luggage OK, got to the parking service and drove home in light rain, the first I'd seen in 2 weeks. I got home just before 9pm, very tired, but lucky to have the weekend free to unpack and rest before starting my new, temporary job on Monday.

And so ended a long and enjoyable trip. It had been a lot of fun to visit Hong Kong for the first time, and it had been a pleasure to return to Japan, as always. The weather had been wonderful for the whole 15 day trip… yes, even the shirt drenching humidity of Hong Kong! It had been wonderful to see so many friends in Japan, and to see 4 nice shows plus the bonus performance at Narita. As always these trips always have to end and I have to get back to real life and earn some money, but I hope to be back on the road again very soon!

Domo Arigato & Thanks!

As always, there are many people to thank. Many thanks to Mari, Mika, Junko and Sushi Man for all their help before the trip and whilst in Japan. DOMO ARIGATO! Thanks also to the many old and new Japanese friends I saw, the pleasure was all mine. Thanks for Patricia for her company in Japan, and for putting up with my mid-trip need to go luggage shopping! Particular thanks to Rick, Robin, Tom and Bun E, as well as Carla, Dave, Jon, Colin, Bill, Larry, Matt and Wookie. Thanks to Don Bernstine from the Hard Rock Café for taking a couple of pictures when my camera batteries failed, and for promising to send me a list of CT items at HRC's worldwide. And last but not least, thank you to everyone who actually read through this novella (I'm aiming to rival Stephen King in terms of number of pages!), and managed to do so without falling asleep more than about twice! Thank you to those of you who still indulge me as I continue to share my travels, CT shows and ramblings with you. Most importantly, I hope you still enjoy the Cheap Trick's reviews and elements of this and other of my reviews… which after all is the main reason for them.

Until next time, domo arigato! :-)

Kim Gisborne - Leeds, England - 4 November 2006

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