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 In what seems to be a summer tradition, like July 4th fireworks and rain at Wimbledon, Cheap Trick had a number of dates booked in Las Vegas and California for the first half of July. Although there were no dates north of the greater Los Angeles area, this would be an interesting run of shows, at a variety of venues and ending up with a "eventful" charity show in Ventura.

Thursday 4 July saw me set out from home for the usual long and convoluted journey. I left my house at 6.50 am, got a bus into Leeds and a train to Manchester Airport. For the first time I was flying Delta Airlines, the wrong airline in terms of adding to my Frequent Flyer miles with United and KLM/Northwest, but their fare for this trip was significantly cheaper than anyone else's and the difference paid for several of the show tickets. Checked in OK, though instead of my suitcase joining the conveyor belt to disappear into the bowels of the airport and magically appear at my destination (or quite occasionally, not…), I was told to go with a security official for a random search <sigh>. As I was unlocking my case, the official spotted the Cheap Trick (and Harmony Riley) stickers on my case and asked why I was going to the States. I explained that I was going to see some shows in California… "Cheap Trick?" he asked. "Sure" I replied, to which I was surprised that he said he'd seen them at the first "All Tomorrows Parties" festival weekend at Camber Sands in April, and how good they were! So the security check was fine, my case finally disappeared into never-never land, and I got myself some coffee before boarding the Delta flight to Atlanta. The 8 hour flight was long but uneventful, the Delta cabin service was fine and northern Canada was devoid of snow for the first time in my travel memory.

Arriving at Atlanta Hartsfield was… um… interesting. I had no idea it was such a huge hub. My full flight disgorged, and we were directed to about 6 immigration desks in a hall of around 30. American citizens had 3 open, foreign visitors the other 3. I stood about 10th in the first overseas line, which was no longer than the others. The immigration officer at my desk was slow and/or methodical, or just totally pissed off. My line didn't move. We saw the other two lines move fairly steadily, each of us in my line kept our bit of carpet. Being British we grumbled amongst ourselves but didn't complain to the immigration supervisor walking amongst the lines. The desk officer finally finished with the person at his desk… then wandered off. When he came back 5 minutes later, a colleague brought a family from who knows where, each seemingly carrying 18 pieces of paper that needed to be collated and checked and compared and... <sigh>... you get the picture? After perhaps 30 minutes, by which time we'd seen not only our flight cleared through the other two overseas lines, but an entire second flight cleared through them too, my line started moving. We moved briskly, and I've never arrived in the States without being asked at least one question, but when I got to the desk the officer said not a single word to me. Maybe he was having a bad day, but this was July 4th with authorities apparently on heightened terrorist alert… hmmm. Anyway, I was glad to get moving, collect my suitcase, get it passed on to the flight to Los Angeles, and then make my way the (seemingly) 3 mile walk from Terminal E to Terminal T. Like I said, big airport. A couple of hours later I was on my 4 hour flight to LAX.

My time at LAX was a rush. We landed at 6.51pm, I rushed to get my suitcase even though I had 3 ½ hours before my next (and final) flight, to Las Vegas. I was going to try and get an earlier connection, my day had been long enough and I didn't really fancy getting into Vegas not much before midnight. I passed yellow police tape en route to the baggage claim (later heard about a fatal shooting earlier in the day at another terminal at LAX), got my case, and rushed two terminals down the sidewalk to United Airlines. Gasping for breath, I produced my e-ticket voucher and the lady got me onto a flight leaving in 25 minutes. "But" she warned "you'll need to put your suitcase through the X-Ray machine over there". <sigh>. So over I go, had to open my case and rummage to pull out my new camera films (which would otherwise get ruined) before my case slowly passed through. With 20 minutes now to reach Gate 173 or whatever, I had to pass through security again, and guess who got stopped for a pretty thorough search? Yep… my backpack was totally unpacked, and the male security guard was pretty thorough in frisking me down etc, even to the point of noting every rivet on my jeans that made the hand held sensor go "beep". Oh, they did the shoes too.

OK, with 10 minutes to spare I ran to the Gate and boarded my Vegas flight… sweating, out of breath but glad to save myself time. We took off soon after into a bright orange sunset over the Pacific Ocean, and the flight was so quick that no sooner had I got a cup of tea than we were angling downwards to descend into Vegas. As we approached McCarran Airport I could see fireworks going off at the north end of The Strip, and the bright lights and winking neon just confirmed that this was indeed Sin City! As I deplaned at 9pm, I had a great view through the large glass airport windows of spectacular fireworks going off around the Stratosphere, at last this did feel like July 4th! Welcome back to America! I watched for 5 minutes before making my way through the much expanded and modernised airport (at least since I last flew through here), past the inevitable slot machines, and out into the baking night air to get a cab the mile or so to the very modest (but cheap) Rodeway Inn nearby. I got there minutes before Rhiazann arrived, her having driven for 10 hours from New Mexico, and we wearily trooped our baggage up the stairs and along the walkway to our room, in which the motel had considerately not left the air conditioning running. It was around 100 degrees outside, and about 95 degrees in the room. Oh well… it was still nice to finish travelling after 23 hours from leaving my front door!

Friday 5 July - Cheap Trick in Las Vegas, NV

I was up early, around 8am, so I went and took an early swim before showering and venturing out at 10am to explore. It was already approaching 100 degrees as I headed to New York New York to ride the rollercoaster that winds its way around the outside of that themed hotel. Being early meant that there was no line, so I quickly got onto the ride and it was an exhilerating couple of minutes (and I had to hold tightly onto my glasses for fear of them flying off). Could I have lost $12 quicker on the slots though? Hmmm…

Took a walk to the Mandalay Bay to see what was happening before heading up the Strip to visit the shops at Caesars Palace. The low wall in front of the Statue of Liberty at NYNY was very moving. A set of stamps commemorating "Heroes of 2001" had been launched here two days previously, and the 100 yards or so of wall was covered in t-shirts and sweatshirts from various fire, police and other emergency service crews from all over the US, most having been signed by members of the crews or stations. A very poignant reminder of 9-11.

The walk was hot, and it was a relief to finally reach Caesars Palace after passing places like the Monte Carlo, Bellagio, and so on. I walked back on the other side, passing by the new Aladdin, Paris and the MGM Grand, and fit as I normally am for walking around, the 100+ degree dry heat was killing me. Despite drinking water I was suffering, and I think I literally staggered into the Rodeway room at 12.30pm and went and lay in the bath with the shower running cold water on me for maybe 15 minutes. Never, ever, underestimate the Las Vegas heat…

After recovering and getting dressed, Rhia and I headed over to the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel to lunch with a few Trick friends. We quickly met the Highlander from Inverness (Elliot!) and Patricia from Chicago. After the vibrating pager went off to signal that a table was available, we were soon joined by Gregg B and Teri from Arizona! Hadn't seen Gregg in 3 years or so, always a pleasure! Lisa J joined us too, and a good time was had by all!

Later on, the beach area outside was cleared at 6pm and Cheap Trick soundchecked at 7.20pm, playing a very stop/start "Mandocello", all of "She's So Bad" and part of "I Can't Take It". As for the past couple of years, the venue at the Mandalay Bay was the raised stage at the outdoor beach area. The stage area was pretty high up, maybe 15-20 feet, so those standing near the front in the pool would have to crane their necks upwards, whilst people further back could sit or stand on the large sandy beach with the tall, bronze windowed hotel rising behind them.

Gates were opened at 7.50pm, soon after soundcheck ended, and the lines of people streamed in. I waded into the water a while later, and met many friends such as (and I apologise in advance for anyone I miss during this listing or later in this review - blame my memory!), Mary G, RhondaFLA, Stacey from Denver, Brian from Rockaway Beach, Rhonda, Carolyn, Dawn T and sis, Zandergal, Mike and Jen, Brad from Boston, Brad from Green Bay, Satoko from Japan, Nance, Sayuri, Dia, Danny Saint, Flis, Mindy, Elsa, Lisa, and big surprise, Kai and Verena from Germany! As always, Vegas is a real meeting up of fans from all over.

For the show I ended up standing way off to the side stage sort of, on the walkway leading up to the stage. So although I had a side on restricted view of the band, I had a good view of a large part of the crowd, and it's nice to get to watch the audience during a few shows. Met up with another regular British visitor that I'd not met before, good to meet Phil here and at subsequent shows. A good egg, as you'll read much later (see Ventura).

Cheap Trick came on stage at 9pm, and are now being introduced by Rick's tech Dave R in a "Budokan" type manner ie "Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome America's finest… CHEEEAAAPPP TRIIIICCCKKKK!". It varied from show to show in California, but that was the style.

RN - Silver jacket, John Candas t-shirt, blabck pants

RZ - Black sparkly shirt, black pants, white straw cowboy hat, shades

TP - Fuschia short sleeved shirt, black pants

BC - Plain black t-shirt, black pants

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, He's a Whore, I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, High Roller, She's Tight, I Can't Take It, Mandocello, Ain't That a Shame, Surrender // The Flame, Dream Police, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now

The large crowd were soon into the show in the warm evening air, and as in the previous two years, I'd guess there were several thousand there. From my viewpoint, it was particularly fun to watch both children and adults in the deeper water off to Rick's right, waiting to retrieve picks like treasure seekers!

After "He's a Whore", Rick had the lights up and pointed out fans from various places, and also mentioned that an uncle of his and some of Tom's relatives were at the show. After "IWYTWM", Rick held up a t-shirt that had been thrown on stage, proclaiming "Chris turns 40 today". Chris and his buddies made it to the next show in San Diego too! Rick also announced that "we are the 4 original members of Cheap Trick", something he said at several of the subsequent shows, and seemingly making a point after playing a couple of Festival shows in Texas a week earlier which included some "name" bands who only included one or two original members. In a long vocal break, Rick then pointed out a sign in the crowd saying "Bun E's back… but he's not in Boston". "Of course not stupid" commented Rick, "he's in Las Vegas!" That provoked the "Bun E chant" which Rick mentioned was right on cue as the Ludwig West Coast representative was at the show! After "She's Tight", Rick carried on what has become a tradition over the past few months, of pointing out children in the crowd and inviting them on stage. This time it was 3 children and a Mom, the latter having quite a job getting up onto the stage (from stage front), even with the help of a security guard. Two of the children and the Mom were from Colorado, all got t-shirts, and returned to the pool the easier way via the side walkway. As the Mom got back into the water way off to the side, holding her two young children in her arms, she (and they) were so buzzed that for just a few moments she bounced up and down in the water with delight! It was warming to watch such a genuine display of pleasure at having been up on stage. As they left the stage, Rick announced his family friendly motto for the year, "You keep breeding 'em, we'll keep entertaining 'em!". And indeed, there do seem to be plenty of children at many of the recent shows I've seen.

"Ain't That a Shame" featured the long drum intro, but at first it sounded a lot like that for "On Top of the World". It was fun to watch some of children in the pool to Rick's right air guitaring during the song! When coming back on for the encore, Rick mentioned the new studio CD which should be out "later this year". From my restricted view it looked as if Rick mistimed his moves during the climactic ending of "Dream Police", with those people on Tom's side not getting showered with picks… "Auf Wiedersehen" was very cool, I hadn't heard that in a while and it sounded great, whilst "Goodnight Now" featured a big extended ending. The show ended at 10.15pm, and it was hard to believe that a year ago this had been Bun E's final show before flying home for back surgery, time flies.

After the show, another Vegas tradition took place with many of the fan's ending up in the blue ceilinged bar in the Mandalay Bay. Rhia and I ended up leaving around 2am.

Saturday 6 July

We were invited to the "Baby J Viewing" at the Luxor for breakfast ie 10-10.30pm. So, we left the Rodeway Inn at 10.10am, had to get gas, then parked up at the Luxor and stood in the long lines to get into their Buffet. Luckily Lisa J and little Zach were still there by the time we made it to their table, so we joined them and Flis, and were later joined by Verena and Kai too. Zach was a sweetie like his parents, so it was nice to get to see him, even in the fairly noisy atmosphere of "The Pharoahs Buffet"!

Rhia and I left for San Diego at 1.35pm, driving across desert in 100+ degree heat. It was pretty spectacular driving down the Cajon Pass, having layers of blue/grey shadowed mountains straight ahead of us in the late afternoon light, it really was a greetings card type picture and I'm just sorry that we couldn't stop so I could take a couple of shots.

Got to our Quality Inn around 6.45pm, it was only a mile or so from Humphreys where tomorrow’s show was, so handily placed. Despite certain facilities not being in service (such as the restaurant and hot tub), it was OK and nice to get a fairly early night.

Sunday 7 July - Cheap Trick in San Diego, CA

The day was mostly overcast and though warm, was much cooler than Vegas had been. Went down to Seaport Village to do some shopping, en route seeing a huge cruise liner docked not far from the historic Star of India clipper.

We went to Humphreys mid afternoon, again meeting a number of fans already there such as Shoandra and Rick, Nance, Elliot and others. The setting, as in the previous couple of summers was an outdoor stage and seating area flanked on one side by a marina and on the other two sides by low hotel room blocks, colourful flowers and shrubs. The concert area was cleared around 4.15 pm and the band soundchecked half an hour later. It started with Rick singing a couple of verses of "Everybody Must Get Stoned" after having played a couple of instrumental verses, and he seemed in high spirits. The band then played almost all of "Words Can Never Say It" though cut off just before the end. The brief lull saw a KISS riff (Love Gun?) before Words was resumed from the guitar solo. The soundcheck ended with a complete rendition of "Scent of a Woman" which smoked.

After Harmony Riley had set up and soundchecked, I popped over to the nearby bar and restaurant where many fans were having pre-show food or drinks, and as well as some I'd seen earlier or in Vegas, met friends Tony H, Rusty, Mark S, Carol G, Daria, Clare and Lorena.

Harmony Riley took to the stage a couple of minutes before 8pm, and proceeded to play a nice 35 minute opening set, including several songs from their new CD titled "Volume 1". As always, worth seeing!

Cheap Trick came on at 9pm, and by now it was getting dark and the temperature was pretty cool by the harbour. As last year I stood up on the rear "balcony", so had a good view of the crowd although the stage was a distance away. Disappointing to see a number of empty rows at the back, though quite a lot of folks were sitting to the side on the harbour wall.

RN - Black shiny jacket, black pants, white/black t-shirt

RZ - Black sparkly shirt, black pants, white straw cowboy hat

TP - Black shirt, black pants, long maroon velvet jacket

BC - plain black t-shirt, black pants

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, He's a Whore, I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, High Roller, She's Tight, Tonight It's You, Southern Girls, Mandocello, Ain't That a Shame, Surrender // The Flame, Dream Police, Goodnight Now

The licence plate phenomenom seems to be catching on, though there’s been a San Diego "CheapTrick" licence plate brought to shows for several years. After "Big Eyes", Rick spotted three in the crowd, the local one, a "RBNZNDR" and Allie’s "Exit 162" one. Rick took the opportunity after "He’s a Whore" to inform the San Diego crowd of the upcoming CD, "no, not a greatest hits, all new material!" Three children and a teenager were invited on stage after "IWYTWM" – "You keep breeding ‘em…" etc. After "She’s Tight", Rick mentioned that long time friend Tod Howarth was somewhere in the crowd, Tod being a San Diego resident. Before the show I’d seen a setlist which showed the set ending with "Gonna Raise Hell", but that song must have been dropped shortly before they went on stage. All in all a nice show, though being quite a distance from the stage I felt somewhat disconnected to the show. In some ways that indicates how lucky Cheap Trick fans are to get to see the band in mostly more intimate settings than this, where even at the back of a club or theatre you can still feel the atmosphere. I guess it didn’t help that I was starting to feel the symptoms of a cold coming along, bah :-(

Monday 8 July

Monday was another off day, so we were out of the Quality Inn by 11am, I had a quick dash up into Horton Plaza to do some shopping (baseball jersey anyone?) before we headed up to Hillcrest to have lunch with Rhia’s actress sister, in San Diego to perform at the Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. We later headed up part of coastal road 101 before heading inland and away from the sea mist to head north on I-5. We had a brief stop before Anaheim for coffee, ending up at a pleasant strip mall, with lots of shady trees and a small fish pond, but every shop was Chinese, Korean or Japanese. Unusual. Rhia and I later found our way up to the motel we’d booked in Pasadena, had a Mexican meal nearby, and watched some of the All Star Game Home Run Derby on TV, with heavy rain falling in Milwaukee. Pasadena was dry and very warm.

Tuesday 9 July - Cheap Trick in Los Angeles, CA

Another hot day and I was now on pills and extra vitamins for my sore throat. We ended up getting out over lunchtime, driving to Hollywood and taking some of winding Mulholland Rd through the hills and down to the Hollywood Bowl. Some of the views from Mulholland were spectacular, and I’ll love to go again when the view was clearer (clearer? In LA?… uh… have I forgotten the infamous smog??). Anyway, stopped off at the Hollywood Bowl, where I got to walk into the amphitheatre itself (not yet closed for the evenings orchestral show). The Bowl was huge, with seats banking up the hillside into the distance, and the famous stage down at the bottom. For me it was awesome to be where so many famous shows have taken place, from the Beatles in the Sixties to the first Who show after the passing of John Entwistle just a week or two ago.

We drove west along Sunset until we reached the tin shack at West Hollywood that was the House of Blues. We got there a little after 3.30pm and parked up at the Hyatt hotel opposite, and found a handful of fans already in line. Inside the crew were setting up, and the concert venue was very similar to that of the other HOB’s I’ve been to, dark and very rustic with lots of wood. The stage was large and around 4 ½ ft off the floor, with a large HOB logo to the rear. Several religious icons were on the boarding high above the front of the stage, and mainly visible to those in the balcony. On the floor level was a large dance floor with bars to each side and rear. On the upper floor was the balcony to three sides, backing onto the rear restaurant. The balcony bar was the ""B.B Blues Bar"" and the ceiling was inset with plaster reliefs of the faces of various blues artists.

It seemed that this was to be the profile show of the West Coast dates, and as such, it was no surprise to see Dave Frey, CT’s manager in from New York for this show, and Mike Graham, CT’s resident photographer. Also good to see Jon O’Keefe from IDK Merchandising arrive during the afternoon, bearing a couple of new merchandise items for the bands approval. I was asked to give my opinion on two possible designs for the summer tour t-shirt, and luckily I made the same choice as a few of the crew! Look out for the new summer t-shirt soon!

Sound check started at 5.20pm though Bun E had warmed up solo before that for awhile. The band worked on the timings of parts of "Scent of a Woman" before playing that in full, also "Words" and "She’s So Bad". As the other band members left the stage, Rick worked his mandocello a bit, playing parts of both "Mandocello" and "Mondo Raga".

Doors opened at 8pm and the venue soon filled up. Harmony Riley again opened, coming on at 9pm and playing for 30 minutes. For those taking an interest, their set included:-

Don’t Get Off The Ride, Falling Away, It’s Over Now, Hold So Tight, Cowbell, Love Yourself

Cheap Trick came on at 10pm to a warm welcome from the large and expectant crowd.

RN - Black shiny suit, grey CT logo baseball shirt

RZ - Black sparkly shirt, black pants, white straw cowboy hat, shades

TP - Black shirt w/beige western style piping, pale pink pants

BC - plain black t-shirt, black pants

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, He's a Whore, I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, She's So Bad, She's Tight, Words, Southern Girls, Mandocello, Ain't That a Shame, Surrender // Tonight It's You, Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Goodnight Now

The band were introduced by Dave R, inviting the crowd to "Welcome the best f***ing rock band this town has ever seen!" Celebrities were certainly out in force for the show, with Rick pointing out producer Jack Douglas up in the balcony after "He's a Whore". Others seen later in the balcony included Alice Cooper and Gene Simmons.

After getting a spot on Rick’s side, it was nice to turn around and see Susan from SFO right behind me. Rick spotted her during the show too! After "IWYTWM", Rick mentioned that Bun E was having back surgery this time last year… "in fact Bun E's back had been bugging him for five years; Cheap Trick has been bugging him for THIRTY five years!". After "She's Tight", Rick spotted Danny Saint's big hair in the crowd, then welcomed Flis' mom to her first CT show. After "Southern Girls" Rick mentioned that Pete on the soundboard normally works for David Bowie, "so if you want free tickets for the Bowie tour, see Pete! He than asked Pete "Can I have a couple of free tickets?". "Tom?" he asked, Tom nodded. "Robin?" he asked. Robin paused for a moment and said "Naaah"! Then Robin started Bowie’s hit "Space Oddity" and he and Rick sang three perfect lines, sounding just like Bowie, very cool! Bun E managed to break two sticks during the intro to "Ain't That a Shame", but didn't miss a beat. After "Dream Police" Rick held up the "RbnZndr" licence plate, and "Scent of a Women" went down well with the slightly modified ending of big "Yeah Yeah's". The set ended at 11.20pm, it had been a nice high energy show and well received by the Hollywood crowd.

Wednesday 10 thru Thursday 11 July

Weds 10th was another hot day in Pasadena, Rhia took me to Burbank Airport to pick up the rental car that I'd be using for the rest of the trip. A relatively quiet day ended with us taking a walk during the evening around lively Old Pasadena, with trendy restaurants and street café's vying for business. And my cold was getting worse, with congestion adding to my sore throat.

Rhia and I had a late breakfast on Thurs 11th before she headed out on her long drive back to New Mexico where she was staying, while I was heading a few miles along 101. I stopped off at the famous Rose Bowl stadium as I left Pasadena, but the miserable security man on gate duty wouldn't let me in for a better look. I headed on over to Woodland Hills in hot sunshine, stopping at a local mall to check out some more baseball jerseys, and outside I ran into (not literally!) the Highlander! OK, so he was staying at a nearby hotel, but it was quite a coincidence to run into him like that!

I headed on to Robyn and Tony H's, who had again very kindly invited me to stay with them during the run of CT shows for the third or fourth summer in a row. Good to meet their 15 month old baby Brandon again, a very sweet and good natured child! It was Tony's birthday, so after showering I helped blow up balloons for a small party later on, Brandon was fascinated by the helium filled balloons that went straight to the ceiling! It was also fun to see him with his small drumset, following in Dad’s footsteps it seems!

We headed out to a local Mexican restaurant for a fine birthday meal with about a dozen other friends, before heading back to party and jam. Before the music commenced, it was time for ice cream cake, one provided by Robyn, and two others kindly booked by NoCal fan Victoria, who had been unable to make it down for the shows. One of the cakes gave away the upcoming milestone of my 100th CT show the following night, which I'd sought to keep secret. Gee, thanks VS! The cakes were all great, and the jam session began, with Tony on drums, Kevin on guitar, and twin bass players of Mark B and Tony P (that gave us 8 strings I think, 2/3 of a Tom Petersson!"). I guess the jam lasted an hour, mostly songs were sung by Flis, though I helped out on a few, despite my congestion and sore throat. My belated apologies to all who had to listen to me!

Friday 12 July - Cheap Trick in Agoura Hills, CA

Another sunny and hot LA day in the high 90's. These weather reports are getting monotonous eh? I awoke, congested and unwell, but got myself up, had a swim and some fruit and relaxed awhile before heading west on 101 for about 20 minutes until I reached Agoura Hills. The Canyon Club was visible from the highway, and the first person I met there mid afternoon was fan Jimmy Shytle, a long way from home on the opposite coast in South Carolina. Good to meet him at last! The Highlander and Phil (Flx) arrived soon afterwards.

I popped into the club to take a look around, the added benefit being that it was marginally cooler inside than out. The posted capacity of the club was 999, and it was pretty large, dark and thickly carpeted inside. The floors were covered in not a single carpet but lots of thick rugs stitched together to make a patchwork of patterns. The stage was good sized, with a "The Canyon" backdrop, and had two circular pillars on stage supporting the lighting rig - it would be interesting to watch if Rick managed to avoid running into one or other of those during the show! There was a wood dance floor extending from front stage centre, flanked on either side by 3 long rows of dinner tables. To either side were bars, and to the rear was a raised, rustic dining area. Off to Ricks side were rows of reserved seating beyond the dinner tables. The ceiling above the dance floor sloped up and featured a wrought iron chandelier, outside was a small clock tower above this area (shades of the Clock Tower in Rockford).

Other fans arrived a little later, including Irene, also Junko, Hiromi and Mutsumi who had arrived at LAX only a few hours earlier from Japan. They seemed bright yet must have been very tired.

The crew soundchecked for Cheap Trick, then Harmony Riley soundchecked with Trick tune "Need Your Love". Doors opened at 6pm and some people sat at their designated places at the dining tables. However, many had made a dining reservation on the strength of being told that the non-diners would be standing further from the stage ie dining tables would be in front of the stage. This turned out to be untrue, since the dance floor area was left clear for standing, so many ignored their dinner seats and went and stood against the front stage barrier. They only had a reservation and hadn't had to pay for a meal in advance, so weren't losing out as such.

The venue either had no air conditioning or is wasn't working, as the room was already very hot by the time Harmony Riley came on at 8.30pm to play the last 35 minute opening set of their short stint in California. They headed back on the long drive home to Illinois after the show. Cheap Trick came on at 9.35pm to a full house of fans, standing on the dance floor or (mostly) standing at their dinner tables.

RN - Multicoloured long sleeved shirt, baggy shiny dark red suit

RZ - Black sparkly shirt, black pants, white straw cowboy hat, shades

TP - Dark pink long sleeve shirt, black pants

BC - plain black t-shirt, black pants

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, He's a Whore, I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, She's So Bad, She's Tight, Words, California Man, Voices, Ain't That a Shame, Surrender // Dream Police, Scent of a Woman, Gonna Raise Hell

The show was a lively one despite the heat, and from my vantage point off at right rear stage, I had a pretty good view of most of the crowd, though not those immediately in front of Rick. That was a shame as I later heard that actress Jeri Ryan (Star Trek Voyager etc) and friends had got themselves close to the front on Ricks side during the show and there was some visual interaction going on. There was a slight problem at the start of "IWYTWM" as Robin missed his opening cue due to problems with his guitar strap. Although this was billed as a "21 and over" show, Rick still found 2 kids to get on stage after "She's Tight", getting them up on his steps and ending up with them getting the obligatory t-shirts. A nice photo op would have been before "Voices", as Rick introduced Robin in the usual way as the latter stood (inadvertantly) beneath the "RBNZNDR" licence plate now residing on Rick's amps. Interesting that it was Bun E who did the "Thank You, goodnight" line as they left the stage after "Surrender", he's normally the first off stage. Rick returned for the encore sans jacket and having changed his t-shirt too, he must obviously have been feeling the heat. After "Scent", Bun E came out from behind his kit and briefly conferred with Rick and Tom, and I wondered if, because of the heat, they might drop playing "Gonna Raise Hell" which was the last song on the setlist, and play something shorter. However, he soon returned to his kit and started up the familiar drumbeat of "GRH" and we were treated to a wonderful 8 minutes, climaxing in the big ending as on Music for Hangovers.

The show ended at 11pm, and the small backstage corridor was crowded with people. Gold medal winning skater Scott Hamilton was one of those, a frequent attendee of CT shows. And it wasn't until I saw a young, attractive blonde wearing a cutoff CT logo shirt signing something to give to Rick that I recognised Jeri Ryan. Whilst the usual after-show hubbub was going on, I managed to join Bun E in a small dressing room and carry out a short interview that he'd kindly agreed to give.

Saturday 13 July - Cheap Trick in Irvine, CA

Another cloudless, hot day saw me drive Tony H and Elliot down to Dodger Stadium to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers take on World Champions Arizona Diamondbacks. We got good reserved seats for $10 high above 3rd base, but at least we were in the shade. Despite Arizona not starting with either of their two ace pitchers (Schilling and Johnson), it was still good to see many of that World Series winning side in action. This was the Highlander's first baseball game, and he sat through the 3 hours patiently! We left shortly before the end, with Arizona winning, and we'd seen 3 big home runs too. Oh, and I'd also eaten a "Dodger Dog" which Tony insisted was compulsory. We listened to the end of the game on the car radio, and though I missed seeing him pitch the last inning, I had seen my namesake, Arizona pitcher Kim warming up in the bullpen before we left.

We drove south in heavy traffic on I-5, heading towards Irvine, but cut across on 705 to 405 otherwise I think we'd still be in barely moving traffic as I write! We reached Irvine at 5.20pm, and parked in a parking lot the size of Wembley Stadium. We could see the Verizon Amphitheatre about a mile in the distance, and it was a long, circular walk to the ticket booths/entrance, and then down to the large concessions area near the actual venue. That was crowded, with a lot of booths selling food, drink, merchandise and other things, and it almost seemed more like a County Fair out there.

We got into the large outdoor amphitheatre at 6.30pm, just in time to see (locally) famous DJ's Mark and Brian (from KLOS, the station organising this "Livestock" one day festival) introduce the event and welcome on stage the first comedian, Steve McGrew. The format was comedian, band, comedian, band, comedian, band, with most acts having only 30 mins, and Cheap Trick as "headliners" getting 35-40 minutes. The amphitheatre was large, though it didn't seem to overwhelm as much as the Hollywood Bowl. I'd heard someone say it could hold 20,000, but my guess was half that. The stage was large, under a tall canopy that included the usual jumbotron. I sort of popped in and out between acts and sitting with various friends down in the concessions area. I saw John Waite perform a couple of songs of his set, and managed to accidently witness the end of Mark and Brians Freaks of Nature, which included a boy who could shreik like a girl, a man with rings piercing his nipples and who then lifted weights from them (ouch), and a woman who could ingest a 12" sausage and then pull it out whole! Bizarre stuff.

Comedian Richard Lewis was poor so I deliberately missed most of him but returned to see DJ Jim Ladd (who had interviewed CT a number of times on his "Innerview" programme) introduce Midnight Oil. They performed an interesting 30 minute set, their lead singer was certainly eye catching! Comedian Carlos Mencia was a riot, and at last Mark and Brian took to the stage at 10.05pm to introduce Cheap Trick.

RN - Black shiny suit, John Candas t-shirt

RZ - Black sparkly shirt, black pants, white straw cowboy hat, shades

TP - Black shirt, black pants, long maroon velvet jacket

BC - Dark grey t-shirt w/design, black pants

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, California Man, I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, Voices, Ain't That a Shame, Surrender // Dream Police

An interesting, albeit short set. Though quite a few people had left after Carlos Mencia, it looked as if a good 2/3 of the crowd were still there, which would make the number at least 6,000 by my guess. The stage was huge in comparison to those the band are used to playing, which caused Rick in particular a few mistimings in getting to his mic for backing vox! Rick got off to a bad start, with his guitar cutting out intermittently during the start of "Hello There". He introduced "If You Want My Love" in similar fashion as at a couple of previous shows, as having been #1 in Australia and "smelt like #2 on KLOS"! They ended at 10.52pm, the day having overun by 20 minutes, and it looked as if they'd had to drop something like "Goodnight Now" at the very end due to time. However, a nice short set played to an enthusiastic crowd, and the size of both the venue and stage must have been a taste of what it was like seeing the band play huge venues at the height of their success.

The evening had become quite cool by the time we left to hike all the way back to the car, and crawl out of the parking lot. But I insisted on repeating something I'd done after a show nearby last year, and we stopped around midnight at a nearby Tommy's to get a chilli burger (everything comes with chilli if you let it!), and after dropping Elliot off at his hotel at 1.30am, we picked up a dozen fresh Krispy Kreme donuts nearby. At times you've got to love America's (or L.A's) 24 hour culture!

Sunday 14 July - Cheap Trick in Ventura, CA

We'll get the weather out of the way quickly, it was sunny and hot, OK? Elliot arrived around 11am, and he drove Tony and I along congested 101 to Ventura on the coast. It seemed like everyone from north LA was heading towards the beach, so the journey was often slow going. We arrived at the Ventura Theatre at 1.15pm, this was an odd day as the show was an afternoon one. This charity event was originally meant to be an outdoor show in a local beach park, but the motor cyclist organisers were unable to get a licence. So the show moved indoors to the Theatre, where Cheap Trick had last played in the summer of 1999.

Doors opened not long after we arrived, and the line of people got out of the sun and into the ornate but slightly shabby theatre. It had 4 levels of flooring, plus a balcony which was closed for this show. The walls were predominently gold, the ceiling blue with large ornate golden ceiling roses and elaborate gold and blue coving. The stage was wide but not deep. There were bench tables on the floor level closest to the stage for the $100 ticket buyers to sit at, though no dinner. The next level back had small bar tables and rows of chairs, whilst the rear two levels were mostly standing.

First on stage at 2.05pm were the funky 7 piece band, War. There were very competant, but they had the same effect on me as Poi Dog Pondering in Chicago last NYE, so I stood outside for most of their set, though from the street the sound still came out loud from the stage loading doors. I did go back in to see them perform their last and most famous number, "Low Rider". They ended at 3.20pm.

Before Cheap Trick came on, the compere pointed out Larry Hagman in the front area (yep, ol' JR himself), before holding an auction for a pair of CT autographed drumsticks and a CT autographed black Hamer Explorer. Amazingly, but cool for the charity, the drumsticks went for $850, and the guitar for $5500.

With probably no more than 350 people there, Cheap Trick took to the stage at around 3.50pm.

RN - Black suit, MFH t-shirt

RZ - Black sparkly shirt, black pants, white straw cowboy hat, shades

TP - Black long sleeve shirt with a target on the front, beige pants

BC - plain black t-shirt, black pants

Hello There, Big Eyes, If You Want My Love, He's a Whore, I Know What I Want, I Want You to Want Me, High Roller, She's Tight, I Can't Take It, Mandocello, Ain't That a Shame, Surrender // Downed, Dream Police, Goodnight Now

An interesting and eventful show… the mid afternoon timing, plus the fairly low crowd made it feel somewhat unreal, it was quite odd. As at the previous nights Verizon show, Rick had problems with his guitar cutting out during the intro to "Hello There" and quickly had to change it. After "He’s A Whore", Rick mentioned Lenore, his tech Dave’s mom who was in the audience. He also noted the 3 Japanese women in the front, noting that it was their 92nd, 93rd and 94th shows respectively. He then mentioned the famous Danny Saint, stating that "Danny has been to around 50 or 75 shows… but only remembers 12!" Umm, does Danny’s reputation precede him? :-) The fun and games started during "IWYTWM" as a fairly well built man got through security (pretty calmly) to the front stage area. I thought he was just just getting closer to the action… but he just continued on and slid onto the stage on his belly, and proceeded to dance wildly on stage behind Robin. The band continued bemused, as first Robins tech Colin, then Rick’s tech Dave and Bun E’s tech Matt all raced on to get the guy off stage. Instead of doing the sensible thing and accepting his fate, the jerk resisted strongly, and the song stopped as the 3 techs tried to wrestle this wriggling, struggling person off stage. They overbalanced at front stage and went crashing onto one of the front centre tables, collapsing it. Poor Colin took the brunt of the fall, and after the show was visibly limping. At this point the band stopped playing, security moved in as everyone stood back in shock, and the miscreant was eventually led away and thrown out… I don’t know if any of the event’s biker staff "helped" him on his way… That was a scary minute or two, and I certainly felt that the warmth of the show had been lost by that idiotic moment. Rick made sure those folks at front were OK, particular those at the table which had been demolished. The table was removed, and the band professionally picked up the song where they left off and finished it. Robin then remarked "I want you to want me… but not that much".

Rick then got two children on stage from the front, plus Robin Z jnr, and did the usual "What’s your favourite band?" and t-shirt stuff, before mentioning that this was soundboard man Pete’s last show before going back to work for David Bowie. As before, he mentioned that Pete was good to provide Bowie tickets… then the band slipped into a very tight first verse and chorus of "Rebel Rebel" which sounded terrific. That segued into "High Roller", and the band were both back onto the setlist and had the show back in the groove after the earlier stoppage. Rick mentioned the new CD after "I Can’t Take It", saying it might be out in November. During "Mandocello", a guy down front taping the show was spotted by theatre security and removed… I gathered later he had the wires to the two mics trailing up his back and attached to his glasses, not exactly inconspicuous. I was standing with Phil (the Londoner) at the back right of the front stage area (on Rick’s side), and the flat tossed out by Rick during "Surrender" spin into the air and back over towards us. It crashed into the corner, Phil retrieved it, and despite it being the first time he’d ever got the flat, he immediately turned and gave it to a young girl standing at the front of the next section, it was her (Jordan’s) first CT show. A very cool and selfless act, which didn’t go unnoticed by Rick on stage.

Upon returning to the stage for the encore, Rick said "Hi" to Jordan from the stage, and also donned an LAPD cap atop his own plain cap. Some shouts from a couple of people in the front prompted Rick to say that they’d do a request for a charity donation, so $100 saw "Downed" being performed instead of "The Flame" which was on the setlist. Rick had to change guitars during the song. The uncrowded front side areas saw lots of picks hit empty floor during "Dream Police", so Phil and I scrabbled around during the latter part of the song picking up as many picks as we could and throwing handfuls Rick style further back into the crowd behind. "Auf Wiedersehen" was on the setlist at the start of the show but sadly not played, though "Goodnight Now" a big drum ending. Rick summed it up nicely with his parting comment "Accept no substitutes, Cheap Trick!" The band left the stage at 5.05pm.

A crowd of us ended up leaving Ventura at 6pm and driving back to Tony H’s house in north LA for another jam session, this time we’d moved furniture in the living room to make more space for his drumkit etc. After takeout pizza and wings, the depleted band of Tony on drums and Danny on guitar started up, unfortunately there was no bass player available! Most of the main vocal duties were carried by Flis, though I risked my raging sore throat to sing a couple (badly) and jointly vox a couple more, and others who sang included Junko from Japan! A fun time was had by all I think, apart from having to listen to my croaking!

Monday 15 thru Wednesday 17 July

I’d booked some extra days when booking my flights three months earlier, to allow for the possibility of one or two extra CT dates, perhaps up near San Francisco. No further dates transpired, so instead of staying in LA where I’ve visited several times before, I decided to drive up to northern California and meet CT fan Victoria, whom I owed money for some of the show tickets and who had unfortunately had to miss the SoCal shows. It was a long hot drive up I-5, and my bad throat and blocked sinuses weren’t much fun. But it was nice to finally arrive, and good later to drive past groves of walnut and almond tree’s into Chico to have coffee and find food. Chico looked a pleasant and very green city, home to a University and also to Chandler Guitars who supply Tom with his 12 string basses.

Despite my feeling pretty crappy, we headed north next day up towards magnificent Mt Shasta, I love mountains. Passing Lake Shasta we drove through about 40 miles of scenery that made me feel like I was much further north in the Pacific Northwest. We drove along winding roads, past red soiled hills and mountains that were covered by tall green conifers, beautiful. After passing the town of Weed the scenery turned back to the open, sun parched golden plains that I’d seen along most of my drive north from LA. We ended up going through the Siskyou Pass down into the pretty town of Ashland, Oregon, where we strolled for a couple of hours. We stopped for dinner in Redding on the way back, though I only had soup, and with my cold/sinus infection all I could taste was salt, bah!

After an omelette breakfast I said my goodbyes and headed south back to LA, to retrieve my suitcase and get ready for the long journey home the next day. It was a long drive, and it was hot and sunny. That about covers it! I got back to Robyn and Tony’s early evening, gatecrashed dinner, then repacked my suitcase to fit everything in…. (note to self, stop buying t-shirts and baseball jerseys!).

Thursday 18/Friday 19 July - The trip home

The long trip home started better than I’d expected. I left the house at 7am, expecting a couple of hours driving in stop-start traffic down 405 to LAX. My flight to Atlanta was at 11.40am so I wanted to give myself plenty of time. True, it was slow going for the first 2-3 miles after joining 405 South from 101, but then the traffic moved fairly well, certainly the first time I’ve ever experienced this on 405! I dropped off my rental car and was checked in and eating a fine MacDonalds breakfast (hint… sarcasm) in the Delta terminal soon after 8.30am. Well, the coffee was welcome for sure. The flight to Atlanta took 3 ¾ hours and was uneventful, and two hours after landing I was again in the air, on the crowded overnight flight back to Manchester, England. The 7 ½ hour flight was long, and not helped by the dry cabin air tickling my sore throat and making me cough every few minutes.

We landed at 9.16 am, and credit to Delta, they didn’t lose my luggage in either direction on this trip. I was fairly lucky with getting both my train connection to Leeds and then my bus connection home from Leeds centre, and I ended up getting home soon after noon. During the train journey between Manchester Airport and Leeds, I reflected on the overcast, comfortable, mid 60’s temperature, the lush emerald fields and the trees leafed in various shades of green that dotted the landscape between stone walls and houses as we sped by. It was a far cry from the baking temperatures and the preominently sun parched golden landscape of the West Coast, and though I always love going to California, I was happy to be back home.


As always with any of my trips long or short, there are several people to thank. Thanks to Rhiazann for doing all the driving during my first week in Vegas and California. Thanks to Tony and Robyn for such wonderful hospitality yet again, for letting me stay and for a couple of great parties! Thanks to Victoria for her warm hospitality in NoCal and for putting up with my coughing and spluttering all the time I was there. And last but never least, thanks to Cheap Trick and Carla as always for everything, particularly to Bun E for allowing me to disturb his post show wind-down at Agoura Hills to be interviewed.

Oh, and thanks to all the terrific people I met during the trip. I’ve named many of them, but by no means all, so my apologies for omitting anyone accidently. As always, it’s the friends that really make any trip fun :-)

Kim Gisborne -- Leeds, England -- 25 July 2002


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