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Kim Gisborne's Trickfest 2 (TF2) Diary - 26 Feb - 1 Mar 1998

I tried to beat the jetlag, by flying out to San Diego for 5 days, before flying back into Chicago, which seemed to work ! Flew into Chicago 2 days before TF2, if only to beat the rush ! Around 500 Cheap Trick fans from the USA and around the world were expected to arrive in northern Indiana for a full weekend of Cheap Trick ! Met up with Mike Hayes at Chicago O'Hare Airport, picked up the hire car, and proceeded to try to find our way south to Merrillville, Indiana.

The drive down, once we managed to find our way out of O'Hare was fine. After we decided we DIDN'T want to go in the direction of Wisconsin, it was pretty plain sailing. Oh, I DID take one wrong turn, but it wasn't crucial - I blame it on the fact that everyone else was driving on the wrong side of the road. About 10 miles from Merrillville, I decided that I'd better drive on the right too...

The Radisson Hotel was great. Certainly more impressive than any I've been in before before. As you walk in, there is a huge area, flanked on 3 sides by rooms with balconies. Within the area (all covered of course) was a swimming pool, waterfall, 2 jacuzzi's, sand area, small golf putting area, and a beach bar ! Most of Weds was spent waiting for other fans to arrive, and a few did, so it was nice to get in some early introductions. Oh, and we'd become regulars at a nearby Dennys by this time... (Dennys is a reasonably priced, open 24 hours, bright and cheerful "restaurant" chain. It was there that I got the first of many "I love your accent, where are you from ?" questions ! - they probably don't get to see many foreigners in Indiana ...). The evening was spent on the bar balcony and it was nice to see the band arrive around 11.45 pm, Weds night, though they all went straight to their rooms.

Thursday dawned bright and unseasonably mild for Indiana in February. The trickle of Trickfest check-ins became a flood, with fans arriving throughout the day. People arrived, not only from England (there were 6 of us in the end) but also France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Australia, around 20 from Japan, and a Kiwi who travelled from London, as well as from all parts of America. As the day went on, it was great to meet up with familiar (and not so familiar) names from the internet newsgroup, as well as other old friends from TF1, and many new friends.

As Thursday evening arrived, we bagged a "front row" seat in the bar balcony for the rumoured CT accoustic show. We endured the comedian, and fell for the "tribute band" rumour, until CT came on to a rapturous welcome, and proceeded to deliver a wonderful unplugged show for an hour. Very unexpected, original, and enthusiastically received (set lists can be found below). Wow ! If this was the standard for the weekend, this was going to top TF1 !! {A.M.CT Review - trickfest1ng.htm}.The bar was buzzing at the end of the 65 minute show, during which the band looked really relaxed, and pleased to be surrounded by enthusiastic fans. I decided to miss going to the hotel room (1046) in which many musician fans had brought their own instruments and were playing all Cheap Trick songs ! It sounded pretty loud, but I later regretted not joining in until the last night !

Friday dawned, and events were all now taking place in the adjacent Star Plaza Theatre, which opened at 10am. The band had a long day ahead, standing for group photo's with those fans who'd pre-booked. They must have done that for 5-6 hours... phew ! The merchandise stand featured loads of new items, particularly a Tom Petersson shirt, and a new series of Rick Nielsen shirts. Also, coveted TF2 t-shirts ! A long queue for much of the day ! It was fun to sit in the theatre, listening to Bun E's tapes of rarities and demo's playing through the PA, and watch other people having their photo's done with the band. Rare video's were played all day in the "Celebrities" lounge. A silent auction was also started, with band members having put forward items that could be bid for on paper. Various band memoribilia such as clothing worn in video's, promo photos or on tour, Ricks shoes with his logo on (see the Say Goodbye CD cover), guitars, and a gold disk were on offer. Bun E was also selling many items from his private collection of tour t-shirts that he'd collected over the years. Collectors will NEVER equal that collection I'm sure ! Mike Herl, the band's giant tour manager of 10 years standing, undertook a 75 minute Q&A session. He seemed remarkably relaxed, honest and candid - an impressive performance, and a lot of interesting information was shared. People could stay in the theatre for the late afternoon soundcheck, which was interesting, then had a couple of hours free to pick up pre-ordered tickets for the Saturday show, as well as grab a quick bite to eat. The Friday night members show was great, with both accoustic and electric sets. The show followed a similar format to TF1, where the band played 3-4 songs, then answered some questions from the audience, then played again and so on. The Japanese fans gave that (and every other show) a flavour of Budokan, which was really appropriate !

Saturday came, and by now the warm "family" spirit was in full swing. Everywhere you went, you ran into friends. Everyone was smiling, having fun, and enjoying themselves, united in their appreciation of the finest band on the planet. The band had a break first thing, as the first activity was photos with the bands instruments (for those who'd pre-booked). People could sit behind Bun E's drum kit, or wear Robins guitar, Toms bass (very heavy !) and/or Ricks famous Uncle Dick guitar (see the NPP album cover !). The band arrived at the theatre late morning, to start a marathon autograph session, which stretched well into the afternoon. The "Evening with" show blew everyone away, with the band seeming to reach new heights. The electric set was full of energy, though no major surprises other than Don't Be Cruel. The unplugged set was equally well delivered. But to my mind, it was the final electric set that raised the show to the roof. Eight Miles Low... and ending on Gonna Raise Hell - what can I say ? It was awesome. It was amazing afterwards, seeing people wander around dazed, or congregated in groups, trying to encapsulate in words what a wonderful show they'd experienced.

But the night was still young...ish. Immediately after the show, the group photo was set up. Around 150 attendees opted to have a professionally taken group shot, band members and crew included, as a further momento of the event. It was an experience to see Mike Herl marshalling us into position ! The phrase "next position please" was soon exhausted. Immediately after THAT, I was swept backstage to conduct a short interview with Rick for this newsletter. He never fails to impress by his courtesy, honesty and professionalism, and I was very grateful that he'd agreed to fit in an interview during such a hectic and tiring weekend. Thanks Rick and Carla ! The night was ended off in the infamous room 1046 !

Sunday morning saw the mass exodus, with the Radisson staff probably sighing with relief at seeing the back of 500 Trick fans ! Many were going up to Chicago for the free show at the Hard Rock, though the majority were heading home. We drove back up to Chicago in the morning, to stay the one night at the Ramada O'Hare, site of TF1. We arrived safely as the snow flakes lightly started falling... ah, Chicago in March ! We got a taxi into Chicago to the Hard Rock Cafe early in the afternoon, and stayed through until the 9pm show. It was a "delight" to see it snowing hard outside around 7pm... would we get back to our airport hotel ?? Again, the show was wonderful (as always), the bonus that night being Day Tripper, and wonderful (at last) to see the show from up front and in a much more intimate setting than a concert theatre. After the show, it was time for goodbyes again, with those who'd stayed the course for all 4 shows heading back to their homes the next day.

The jetlag is starting to wear off, and we're back to real life. BIG thanks go to Rick, Bun, Tom, Robin, Carla, Mike & Angie, Diane, John, Mindy & Jenny, John G, Dave Fry, and all the crew, who made it all happen. THANK YOU !!! There is already talk of a possible TF3, perhaps a couple of years hence. And that, if nothing else, is an incentive to join Trick International !!



Thurs 26/2/98 - Radisson Hotel, Merrillville. ACCOUSTIC SET


I Can't Take It, Tell Me Everything, Walk Away, Waiting for the Man, Take Me to the Top, Everything Works, It All Comes Back to You, Baby No More, Take Me I'm Yours, Didn't Know I Had It, Tonight Its You, The Flame

Fri 27/2/98 - Star Plaza Theatre, Merrillville. TI MEMBERS REQUEST SHOW

Soundcheck: Stiff Competition; Can't Understand It (accoustic)

California Man, Anytime, Just Got Back, He's a Whore, Stop This Game, Fan Club, High Roller, If You Want My Love, Borderline, I Know What I Want, Loser, Wrong All Along <BREAK> ACCOUSTIC - Can't Take It, Tell Me Everything, Walk Away, Take Me To The Top, Voices, Didn't Know I Had It, The Flame; ELECTRIC - Hard To Tell, Auf Wiedersehen

Sat 28/2/98 - Star Plaza Theatre, Merrillville - AN EVENING WITH CHEAP TRICK (PUBLIC SHOW)

I Want You To Want Me, C'mon C'mon, She's Tight, Anytime, Ain't That A Shame, Hard To Tell, Wrong All Along, If You Want My Love, Don't Be Cruel, Heaven Tonight, Dream Police;

ACCOUSTIC - Everything Works, Tell Me Everything, Walk Away, Waiting For The Man, Take Me to the Top, Ghost Town, Baby No More, Didn't Know I Had It, The Flame;

ELECTRIC - 8 Miles Low, Southern Girls, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen, Gonna Raise Hell

Sun 1/3/98 - Hard Rock Cafe, Chicago - FREE SHOW

I Want You to Want Me, C'mon C'mon, She's Tight, Anytime, Top of the World, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, If You Want My Love (extra bridge), Day Tripper, Voices, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender, Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now


KG: Kim Gisborne

RN: Rick Nielsen

CD: Carla Dragotti (aka Trick Int'l !)


KG: You've just come off stage, Trickfest 2 is finished, its been 3 days. What have been your impressions of the whole event ?

RN: I saw a lot of happy faces, we had fun, played a lot of music which is the whole reason that we're around for this long and doing this, its for music, and luckily we play a lot of music and have lots of fans. We're overwhelmed. Thanks a million to everybody that came... unreal..

KG: How do you feel about the fact that you've had people again, for the second time, from all around the world ?

RN: Its unbelievable. I mean, the first time maybe we tricked them....

CD: I need to interrupt you for one second. You have to do the Poll Star (?) shot now...

(RN goes off for a short photo shoot for 5 mins...)

KG: There's been all sorts of (TF) events going on. Has there been one particular highlight of the whole event for you ?

RN: Maybe that first night, just coming out. A couple of people just figured out we were doing something, but for the most part, people thought it was a cover band coming out. Then we just went and played. I think it was the first time we've played that many accoustic songs

KG: That was fabulous, unplugged...

RN: It was fun <LAUGH>

KG: How far along are you with preparing material for the new album ?

RN: Everybodys been working separately, so we have oodles of old material, oodles of new ideas. We have to get together and do stuff. But we always have worked separately then got together to fine tune everything.

KG: I know there's stuff going on with the record labels, but what sort of timetable are you hoping will happen ?

RN: During this year, we're just going to get into some studios and play some new songs, just experiment a little bit, try to get back to the old way of doing things where you just record and put out records. You don't wait for that or this, you just put out some stuff

KG: Well, if you can follow up the 97 album, in that sort of vein. That was fabulous...

RN: Yeah, it was a good record. Not a lot of people heard it because the record company took a crap !

KG: Is it too early to say who may produce it ? Would the band produce it ?

RN: Rick Perisher (looking at another person in the room)... Rick Nielsen.... we're talking a bunch of dicks ! So it could be anybody.. Kim, maybe YOU should produce it..

KG: If thats an offer... <LAUGH>

RN: You've been a fan for so long, why not ? <LAUGH>

KG: There's people in Europe and Britain who will be reading this. Can you say a little bit about the reasons for the cancellation of the European tour, and also how realistic you think it could be to reschedule something of that size, rather than just odd dates ?

RN: Well, the press release was sent out. The record company went bankrupt, so for one, our record wasn't even out per se. They weren't putting any money into advertising, plus they wouldn't help us defray our costs. That was originally the first thing we were going to do, a year and a half ago, was go back to Europe and re-establish some things all over Europe, and South America... and that was the last project that we tried to do. By then, the record company had failed, and everyone in all those European countries, at least the way I heard it, said "Gee, we can't support you, we can't help you out". Its terrible for the fans that would have come, not caring whether we had a new record or not. But to really try to build up something, you can't just go there and throw it against the wall and hope it sticks. So we wanted to have something behind it, more than just us playing. I mean, had we been there the year before and our record company failed, who cares ? We could have just gone to play, but we were trying to reestablish ourselves and so here we are, basically four guys getting off a plane with nobody knowing anything about it because the publicity was gone. It was so unorganised. We want to do it the right way, we want to do it correct.

KG: It sounds as if there maybe two or three summer dates in England..

RN: Yeah ! Yeah !

KG: London or wherever..

RN: The first one we knew about was Aerosmith on the 27th of July, but now I hear that might have changed, because we'd rather do more of our own shows, and try to do some of the festivals

KG: I'd heard a couple of Festivals and maybe a date in London as well ?

RN: London, The Astoria I think ? Then I think make it up to Sweden, and try to do some stuff in Spain.... But remember when we did the (UK) college tour.. ?

KG: Back in 78 ?

RN: Yeah, well, if we go in summer, I don't think a lot of the colleges are in session !! So I think if we do a few shows... Plus my son's getting married in England, so we're gonna be there for that. So we'll go there and go back. Maybe go back in late Fall (98) or early Spring (99), get over there for a few shows.. go all over the place.

KG: One of the things of Fest is a celebration of the career of the band as much as anything. After 24 or 25 years, why do you think the band has stayed together so long, producing quality music throughout, and with very little change in personnel ?

RN: Well, probably because we started for the right reasons. WE didn't start because we wanted to be rich. We didn't start because we wanted to be cool. We did it because we like to play, and we actually play pretty good. It took a long time to get to have the four guys in Cheap Trick. I've played with other people, but I can't imagine as a 4-piece thing that could make me any happier, still, to this day. Think about it, thats not a bad deal. We set our sights really high. We wanted to be happy and do what we liked. THATS setting your goals high, not like "make a million dollars" or win the Lottery. We did that, we WON the Lottery ! And we lost a million dollars ! <LAUGH> When you do it for the right reasons... I want to play in a band, and play with cool guys, and do neat songs. And hey!! We've accomplished that. Everything else is gravy

KG: I think thats more or less everything, unless there's anything you want to add for people who'll read this in England, Europe, and Scotland and wherever...

RN: Tell them my accent is thicker than yours !! <LAUGH>

KG: Rick, it was a fabulous time, and thank you for your time. Hopefully we'll see you later this year in Britain and Europe...


(With many thanks to Rick Nielsen and Carla Dragotti, for arranging and agreeing to this interview during a very heavy schedule at TF2.)


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