Two nights in Oregon April 2006
Two night stands by Cheap Trick are usually worth making the effort for, wherever they may be. The promise of hearing a number of different songs on night #2 is always an attraction, as is not having to travel between shows!
In this case, the two nights on the Oregon coast held other attractions for me too - for one, it was a part of the country I'd not been to before. Having travelled extensively in the US to see shows, visiting new places is always nice and though I'd been through Oregon on I-5, I'd not visited its rugged coastline. In addition, the tour with Aerosmith had recently been abandoned after a number of shows were cancelled by the headliner due to Steven Tylers health, and so these two shows would be amongst Cheap Trick's first for several weeks. There would be a number of friends at the shows to see and catch up with, which is always fun. And last (but by no means least), details of the bands upcoming new CD had been announced only 3-4 weeks before these shows, with 3 new songs being made available on the official website. The first single "Perfect Stranger" had later become available through iTunes etc for download purchase so perhaps a new song or two might be debuted on stage up in the Northwest? Well, one could only hope!
Thurs 20 April - Travel, Leeds-Manchester-Amsterdam-Minneapolis-Portland!
As usual, my travel day saw me up and out early, with the morning in Leeds still dark and the birds and roads quiet. Actually, I wasn't quite as early as usual, as I mostly seem to catch the 6am flight from Manchester to Amsterdam. However, my itinerary today saw me booked on the 8am KLM flight, so my start from home was just a little later than usual though not by much! I was up at 3am and out before 4.30am!
My 8am flight took off half an hour late, but I had plenty of connection time so that was no worry on this occasion. I had some time in a KLM lounge before making my way to the gate. Unfortunately the Northwest flight to Minneapolis was going to be delayed due to the aircraft arriving late, and it was a long wait in the gate area until we could board. The flight finally took off 45 minutes late, but again I had a long layover before my next flight so this wasn't really significant. The 8hr 40m flight was pretty full but not unpleasant, particularly as it was in one of Northwest's new Airbus A330 aircraft which have seatback video on demand. Lots of movies to choose from though none too enthralling. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I fell back on two old favourites - the original "Toy Story" (can't remember when I last saw this) and "Monsters Inc" (yet again). Hey, they helped pass the time and I like 'em! I listened to some MP3's too, and dozed for all of maybe 20 minutes.
We landed at Minneapolis/St Paul at 3.10pm local time, and I was quickly through Immigration and was pleasantly surprised not to have to wait long for my yellow bag to arrive on the baggage carousel. With that safely checked back onto my next flight, I had over 5 hours to kill which sucked except it was the best priced flight itinerary I could get. Anyway, it wasn't too much of a bust as I'd heard that a rail link had recently opened connecting downtown Minneapolis with the airport and Mall of America. So I'd already pre-planned to take the light railway north into downtown, the ride only taking about 30 minutes for just $2. It was overcast in Minneapolis as I walked from Hennepin/5th to the nearby Hard Rock Café. I'm afraid this was one of those disappointing Café's a bit like Phoenix. Some are pretty cool to go into and look around, but I really didn't get much of a buzz here. However, it did have one of Rick's Hamer guitars on the wall, and in the upstairs entrance "foyer" it had an impressive glass wall display of items owned, played or written by one of the cities major musical sons, Prince. Anyway, I took a couple of photo's of Rick's guitar (see pix at hardrock.htm) and did a little shopping, before heading outside. On the opposite street corner was one of Minneapolis's legendary musical venues, "1st Avenue". A huge number of big names have played here, including Cheap Trick, and on both of the two long outside walls on either side of the corner entrance, were painted hundreds of silver stars on the black walls. These were a "Wall of Fame" of the artists who had played here, and of course I had to find Cheap Trick's star! That proved to be high up on the wall on the 1st Avenue side.
It soon started to rain, and so I abandoned any further exploration downtown. And to be honest, downtown Minneapolis wasn't all that inspiring from what I saw. The only thing I might have liked to do was revisit the Metrodome to see the Twins play some baseball, but their home game was later tonight and not in the afternoon. So instead I rode back to the airport in the rain and killed time in a Northwest lounge before finally going to the gate for my last flight of a very long day. By now I was pretty tired, and the 9.25pm flight (local time) was over 24 hours after I'd woken up this morning. We took off 30 minutes late (seemingly a pattern for the day), and though I was upgraded into First Class, it was too late a flight for Northwest to serve a meal. So the food service was from a choice of small packets of snacks and cookies. Later during the 3 hour flight I walked down the cabin to stretch my tired legs and saw two of CT's crew (Bill and Larry) dozing in their seats! Always nice to see familiar faces.
We landed at dry but dark Portland (Oregon) at 11pm local time, and after such a long travelling day I was very happy to see Californian friend Tricktoria arrive at the downstairs baggage claim just as I did. As ever on the West Coast, she'd been kind enough to offer me a seat in her car and hotel room share. Anyway, we waited for the luggage to arrive, though oddly before anything showed up on the never-ending rubber loop, I saw an airline guy pushing a cart with my yellow bag! So I rushed after him, and thankfully he was delivering it to the nearby luggage supervisor seems it had come in on the previous flight from Minneapolis! So, we left Bill, Larry and the other passengers waiting for their bags, and Victoria and I headed out. After a marathon travelling day I'd thought I'd be too tired to go far, so we'd booked a hotel close to Portland. We drove there and checked in somewhere around midnight. However, I hadn't eaten a meal for some hours, and Victoria hadn't eaten much on her long drive up from California. The receptionist told us about two nearby 24 hr places, a Denny's and a Shari's. I plumped for Shari's only on the basis of never having eaten in one (whilst almost every American and quite a few tourists, including me, have eaten in a Denny's right?) So we followed the directions to Shari's, it was about 3 times as far away as was Denny's <sigh>. Foodwise it was so-so, but it was hot and it was food so it worked kinda! Back to the hotel and quickly to bed. It was 1.30am here, and 9.30am Friday morning at home, over 30 hours since I had got up this morning zzzzzzzzzzzzz!!
Fri 21 April - Cheap Trick in Lincoln City, night #1
The morning was bright and dry, and I had to pinch myself to check I was awake. Pacific Northwest? And not raining? :-) Well, no complaints about the weather, though it wasn't actually too warm. We headed out of Beaverton and south west towards the Oregon Coast. The drive wasn't unpleasant, and en-route we passed through Oregon's equivalent of the Napa Valley, sort of. Well, there was a stretch where a number of local vineyards were advertised and signposted, and I honestly never knew you could get Oregon wine. Mind you, there are a few small vineyards back home in Yorkshire too, so I guess nothing should surprise me!
We reached the Chinook Winds Casino and Resort Hotel around 1pm and checked into a ground floor room. The weekend cost seemed somewhat excessive when you considered the basic motel type room, but the bonus was that on the ground floor you had a rear as well as front door and the back door opened onto a path just above the long sandy beach and the Pacific Ocean. The view was spectacular, and made the cost worthwhile I think. After having lunch in the Hotel restaurant (again with ocean view), we went up to check out the casino and venue.
I popped inside the venue to see if anything was happening, but all was quiet. The venue was a typical, all seated casino theatre/hall. It had a medium sized stage with a pelmet over the top of the stage with purple neon signs saying "Chinook Winds" and "Concerts by the Sea". The venue was fan shaped from the stage, with mint green walls and fittings (such as velvet drapes) in deep maroon. There were 4 front rows of seating, then 3 slightly raised levels of table seating and then more slightly raised levels of regular seating.
Bun E turned up to soundcheck at 3.40pm, though the band as a whole didn't soundcheck. As usual I helped Jon set up the merchandise booth, our location being just out in the casino by the doors to the venue. The smoky atmosphere wasn't fun, though I've been in worse casino's for cigarette smoke. Good to see a number of friends, including Lily from Phoenix, Dawn from OR, Caryn from SoCal, Akemi all the way from Tokyo, Noriko, Kiyoko, Aussie Steve and Lisa from their new home in Atlanta, Bill and Holly from Colorado and probably one or two others (if I've missed anyone out, my apologies for the accidental omission!)
I stayed with Jon on merch until 7.55pm when I went into the venue and stood near the back by Larry and the lighting board. There had been no opening act, and the band hit the stage at 8.05pm to an enthusiastic welcome with many of the crowd standing.
RN black suit, black t-shirt w/design
(drone intro), Hello There, Big Eyes, Taxman Mr Thief, Hes a Whore, If You Want My Love, Come On Come On (not the new track!), Best Friend, I Want You To Want Me, I Know What I Want, Voices, Never Had a Lot To Lose, Flame, 70s Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, (RN guitar solo intro to ) California Man, Goodnight Now
After "Big Eyes" Rick announced that "Just in case you're not sure, we are the one, the only, please accept no substitutes Cheap Trick! You are the first audience we've seen tonight!" He then introduced the next song, noting that it "starts with the drums of the one and only Bun E Carlos", and the introductory beat to "Taxman Mr Thief" started up. That song sounded great, and the band sounded very fresh after a few weeks off and seemed to be enjoying playing. The sound mix seemed very good too, though perhaps my standing position at rear centre had something to do with that.
The band then played "He's a Whore" and so had already deviated twice from the regular first night setlist. Interesting! After "Whore" Rick mentioned fans from Japan and then Australia, pointing out Steve and Lisa near the front. Rick gave some convoluted and mildly confused story about how they'd fallen in love at Trickfest and got married "Are you still in love?" he asked. "Ah, relatively" he said following their reply Rick then spotted a sign near the back asking "Please Sign My Record", held up next to a "Heaven Tonight" LP cover. "What's a record?" asked Rick "that's old century!" But after those joking comments, he invited the guy to bring down his LP cover and he actually got the band to sign it on stage. Of course in the meantime other people had rushed to front stage holding up items they wanted signing (though only the "Heaven Tonight" LP guy was lucky)! Anyway, the next song was introduced as being "in that great, great movie Joe Dirt but you have to stay to the end to get the full impact!" And of course they went into "If You Want My Love".
Next up saw "Come On Come On", they song from the "In Color" LP and not to be confused with the new song "Come On Come On Come On"! After that Rick announced that "We never get tired of those old chestnuts". He then mentioned the new CD release on 6/6/06, saying that "the only non-satanic band to have a record out that day will be Cheap Trick!" He then mentioned Bun's drum tech, Matt, "It's his birthday today so if you recognise him later he'd like drinks!" Then the next song was introduced as having the 3 chords E minor, C and A and so started a rocking "Best Friend". "I Want You To Want Me" was the crowd pleaser as always, having most of the crowd on their feet throughout.
Rick then reminded the crowd "Just in case you got here late, we're Cheap Trick And believe it or not, one of my favourite bands will be here tomorrow night Cheap Trick!" He then added that tonight was a sellout as was tomorrow night, then introduced Tom as being a living legend in then listed every continent! Tom then played a short bass solo before starting up "I Know What I Want". At the end of the song Rick gave his guitar to a fan at the front. Rick then said "That was Tom Petersson, soon the be on the cover of Bass Player magazine I know you probably all subscribe!" He added "I was on the front cover of Guitar Player if you were reading backwards! That was back in 79 a century ago". He then said that he had a new guitar (a sparkly, golden Les Paul) "and I feel like doing Country & Western songs " and he then played about 30 seconds of a C&W type riff! "Better leave that to the professionals" he mused at the end, " and speaking of professionals Mr Robin Zander".
After "Voices" there was a bar of "Substitute" played in the short break before "Never Had a Lot to Lose" started up. After that, Rick asked the crowd "How many people haven't seen us before?" - there were some cheers and Rick commented " the proud and the few". "OK, so how many people have seen us before?" he then asked there was a big cheer, to which Rick replied " the proud and insane!" He then introduced "The next song was number one around the world, thanks to Mr Robin Zander here" and of course they went into "The Flame".
As ever there was a big "Yes" in reply to Rick asking before the start of the encore "So does that mean you want to hear some more?" And for "Dream Police" Tom played his new orange bass with mod/target design on it.
The show ended at 9.27pm and as always there was the usual post show rush for merchandise. After we'd finished and packed up, a few of us went to the hotel restaurant and had late appetisers and drinks before saying goodnights and heading to our respective rooms for sleep.
Sat 22 April - Cheap Trick in Lincoln City, night #2
Another beautiful morning on the Northwest coast, though the sea breeze cooled down the warmth from the bright sunshine a bit.
Victoria and I left mid-morning and headed north of Lincoln City and drove up the coast to the small town of Tillamook. Unfortunately the small cheese factory wasn't in production on a Saturday but we still did the small, self guided tour. I know most of America's cheese is produced in Wisconsin ("come smell our dairy air") and California, but I often get little packages of Tillamook cheese on aeroplanes. Anyway, we also stopped at the nearby Blue Heron French Cheese Company before heading back south. We even briefly diverted to a HUGE hanger just south of Tillamook, which was an air museum. We didn't go in but the hanger was enormous. It was the remaining one of a pair of hangers that housed blimps during WWII, and is the largest wooden clear span structure in the world. So that gives you some idea of size. Big.
We drove on south through beautiful, lush green scenery and past fields of contented looking cows, and diverted to the small town of Pacific City on the beach to have a late lunch at the Pelican Pub and Brewery. Whilst none of the home brewed beers appealed to my palate, the clam chowder and fish & chips did! Not to mention the spectacular sea view.
We got back to the Chinook Winds at 4pm and I was back at the venue at 4.10pm. Again only BC soundchecked, so I hadn't missed anything. I was soon helping Jon with merchandise again, and we set up in the same place as last night. Again I helped until 7.55pm when I went into the venue and stood near the back, and Cheap Trick came on at 8.05pm to another enthusiastic welcome.
RN black suit, black t-shirt with design
(drone intro), On Top Of The World, I Cant Take It, Hes a Whore, Taxman Mr Thief, Pop Drone, I Want You To Want Me, High Roller, Tonight Its You, Fan Club, (long RN guitar solo intro to ) California Man, Flame, 70s Song, Surrender // (encore) Dream Police, (long TP bass solo intro to ) Auf Wiedersehen
Towards the end of the very first song, "On Top of the World", Rick started milking the crowd reaction. As at last night's show, I though this casino crowd were more lively than many casino crowds I've seen who've stayed seated throughout. At least here many were out of the their seats for at least some of the show!
At the end of "He's a Whore" Rick milked the crowd again, then announced that "It's a pleasure to be in Oregon once again". He introduced each of the band members to big cheers for each, before picking on a woman in the front rows and then thanking the crowd for coming out to see Cheap Trick.
It was a little unusual to get "Whore" and "Taxman" again, so it looked as if there were to be no new songs debuted tonight. After "Taxman" Rick announced that there had been "a fine looking crowd last night, but tonight's puts them to shame!" He added that "If anyone saw our crew in the bar of the casino last night yes, they really can do those things! Proving that alcohol is good for you!" He then said that the band had a new record coming out soon "but we're not playing a new song tonight!"
For "Pop Drone" Robin came out jacketless but now wearing his straw hat, and at the end of the song Rick gave his guitar to a fan at the front.
Robin stood alone in a spotlight at stage right playing the opening bars to "High Roller" which was cool to see. After the song there was a long gap in the dark before the band started up the next song, "Tonight It's You". After that, Rick "cleaned" his guitar with a fans newly purchased red CT t-shirt! He then announced "We are the one, the only, accept no substitutes Cheap Trick. Thank you for your continuing and continuous support for the past 300 years...!" He then added that "We've been everywhere in the United States except Lincoln City, Oregon. The next song was written especially for you, thank you for coming". And the band went into a wonderful version of "Fan Club". Again, like last night, they were in fine form and seemed fresh and rejuvenated after their enforced break.
Rick played a long guitar solo before starting up "California Man", and interestingly Tom also later played a long solo before starting the intro to "Auf Wiedersehen" I guess both felt they could let themselves go a bit tonight.
After "California Man" Rick noted that "These old guitars are OK this was made in 59!" He went on to point out sound and light men Bill and Larry, adding that "If you have any questions about Cheap Trick, Bill knows all the dirt!"
There was a long break before the band came back on for the encore, though a huge "Yes" to Rick's usual question about wanting more. "Ain't That a Shame" was on the setlist but dropped, as they instead launched into "Dream Police". Tom went into "the zone" with his bass solo before starting up an exhilarating "Auf Wiedersehen" which ended the show.
The set finished at 9.25pm and again merch was busy before we dismantled and packed everything away. A number of friends were still around by the time I got done, so the six of us drove a couple of miles along the main road through Lincoln City to have a late meal at an all night place called "Maxwell's". It wasn't the best food or service I've ever had, but it was nice to relax and catch up with friends before we went our separate ways around midnight. By now the coastal air was plain chilly!
Sun 23 April
Well, the shows were over but my long weekend wasn't. I'd booked in an extra day so that it wasn't the usual early morning rush back to an airport.
It was another glorious day, bright and sunny, and the temperature felt warmer too. There were beautiful breakers out on the beach, with a few folks walking or flying kites on the sandy beach. We left the Chinook Winds late morning and headed south on 101, first through the ugly strip of Lincoln City and then driving along magnificent coastline. I have to say that what I saw of the Oregon coast this weekend was beautiful, and I'd recommend it to anyone. Victoria and I crossed over the world's shortest river near Newport, and then drove on to the nearby Oregon Coast Aquarium. It wasn't a huge place but it was really nicely done and well worth a visit.
After leaving Newport we headed inland towards Eugene and Salem and up I-5 to Portland. As we approached the city we saw the magnificent sights of the jagged Mt Hood and the more rounded Mt St Helens, both bright with white snow in the distance. We crossed over into Washington as I'd booked into the Hilton Hotel at Vancouver WA for tonight. The room upgrade was quite impressive!
Mon 24 Tues 25 April
Time to travel home. Another beautiful Monday morning, and I first packed my shopping before we went and had breakfast and checked out. We had a short stop at Portland's Nob Hill area with its narrow tree lined streets and small but often funky stores. Then it was off to Portland Airport and checking onto my flights home.
My first flight was back to Minneapolis, and I had a wonderful view of Mt St Helens and Mt Adams on my side of the plane, also a brief but spectacular glimpse of Mt Hood through a window on the other side of the plane. All were magnificently cloaked in snow and quite a sight. Minneapolis was dull and overcast as we landed at 6pm, and half an hour later I boarded my next plane for the overnight flight back to Amsterdam. Ha - I got a little packaged Tillamook cheese with dinner, my third meal of the day! As usual I tried to sleep but found it hard to. I made it through the 7˝ hour flight though was feeling tired at Amsterdam Schipol. I killed 3 hours there before taking my flight back to surprisingly sunny-ish Manchester, got my bags safely and took the shuttle to the airport parking, and drove back to Leeds through late Tuesday afternoon traffic. And so ended another busy, tiring but fun long weekend!
As always there are thanks to give, first and foremost big THANKS to Victoria for all her kindness as ever. Thanks also to Carla, the band, crew and Jon. And last but not least, thanks to the friends I met at the shows, it was a pleasure to see you all again :-) Oh, and thanks to the great state of Oregon beautiful weather, magnificent coastline, a nice feel and no sales tax! As the Governor of that neighbouring State to the south would say I'll be back!
Kim Gisborne 30th April 2006
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