Cheap Trick: 10/28/1984

It’s been a long time since I posted. Life has gotten in the way. It happens. But here we go.

I think this was the first time that I saw Cheap Trick in concert. I know the first time I saw them was at the Sunrise Musical Theatre, and I am pretty sure I only saw them there once, but memories get foggier the father back you go.

Anyway, if this is indeed the concert I was thinking about, I went with my friend Jim who was a big Cheap Trick fan. He was telling me about the plethora of guitar picks that Rick Nielsen would toss into the crowd, and some of the other rock and roll antics. And they did not disappoint in this area. I was amazed at how far Nielsen could flick a pick. And yes, when they played “Surrender” as an encore, they sailed a KISS record out into the crowd too!

I looked online and the following is an average setlist from 1984. It seems to be about right from what I remember. Rock on!

  • Hello There
  • California Man
  • Reach Out
  • I Want You to Want Me
  • I Want Be Man
  • The Ballad of T.V. Violence (I’m Not the Only Boy)
  • If You Want My Love
  • Baby Loves to Rock
  • Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
  • I Can’t Take It
  • Up the Creek
  • Dream Police
  • She’s Tight
  • Stop This Game
  • Surrender

Heart, Joan Jett, and Cheap Trick: 9/16/2016

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This show was booked as the “Rock Hall Three-for-All,” three bands from the same time period who are inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I had seen all three bands before, Joan Jett and Cheap Trick multiple times, but it was still fun. My wife had never seen any of them, so she was really excited, and my brother and his wife met us at the show, so it was great hanging together.

The bands were all good, although Cheap Trick was a little too loud, which distorted their sound, and Joan Jett seemed a little tired. Heart, in my humble opinion, was the best and deserved the headliner slot, but some people I know who also attended the show did not share my opinion. That’s the thing with music—it’s very subjective.

The high point of the night for me was the Led Zeppelin encore that Heart played. They performed “Immigrant Song” and “Stairway to Heaven.” Not many bands can pull off Zeppelin, but Heart is one that can.

The downer about this show was the crowd. It seemed like every trailer park within a hundred miles was emptied out and the residents hoarded in. Also, I was not crazy about the venue. The big amphitheater just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t see myself going to many more shows there. It’s just not worth it to me.

Well, that’s all I have to share about this concert. “I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox baby!”

Robert Plant: 7/14/88

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This is an example of a great concert where I did not have a really great time. I was originally planning to go to this show with my then girlfriend, Julie. But something came up and she could not go. Instead, she insisted that I take her mother instead. I knew this was not a good idea, but she was insistent and I decided to give it a go.

To say I was uncomfortable is an understatement. I was certain that this woman was scrutinizing and judging me. Still, I was going to try my best to enjoy myself and the concert.

Cheap Trick was the opening act, and I do love Cheap Trick. Our seats were toward the back of the arena, but we still had a decent view of the stage. As the band tore through their set, I got more and more excited. Finally, in a fit of rock and roll enthusiasm, I stood up and screamed “California Man!” wanting to hear my favorite Cheap Trick song. My girlfriend’s mom looked at me with what seemed a blend of pity and disdain, and then said, “Do you really think they can hear you?” I felt crushed, but only for a moment, because they immediately broke in to “California Man” and vindicated me. I looked back down at the mom with a smug smile on my face.

The rest of the show was less eventful, thankfully. Robert Plant was great, as always. His set was mostly solo material, but he did perform a few Led Zeppelin tunes, the best being “Trampled Under Foot.”

Anyway, I survived the ordeal, and vowed never to make that mistake again.

Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick: 8/26/2005

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This is a concert that has a very special memory associated with it. This was the first concert that I took my oldest daughter to see. Even at a young age, my daughter had great taste in music (a sign that I have done my job as a parent well). She liked Alice Cooper and would listen to the “Welcome To My Nightmare” album a lot, so when I saw Alice was coming to Atlanta, with Cheap Trick no less, I figured it was worth taking a road trip to have a father/daughter bonding experience.

My wife was concerned about me taking our young daughter to an Alice Cooper concert, particularly if I needed to use the bathroom. She did not want me leaving her alone for even one second. Luckily, my brother Mike lived in Atlanta at the time and he was totally interested in going to the concert with us. It also meant we had a place to stay. All in all, it was shaping up to be a great time.

We got to the show, and despite my brother’s warning about how strange of a venue Chastain Park Amphitheatre was, I was still surprised. Chastain sells season passes to really rich folk who bring fancy picnic dinners, have tables set up, and dine by candlelight while enjoying an evening of music. Behind the bourgeois, where we were at, were all the rock and roll crazies. Anyway, it was a very surreal environment.

Cheap Trick came out and they were great, as always. I had seen them many times over the years and loved them each time I saw them. They romped through all their hits and even played “California Man,” possibly my favorite Cheap Trick song. During their set, in a moment of tomfoolery, Rick Nielsen took one of Alice’s band member’s guitars and gave it to someone in the audience. The roadies were quick to retrieve the guitar and bring it back on stage.

I mentioned that “Welcome To My Nightmare” was my daughter’s favorite Cooper album; I should add that “Department of Youth” was her favorite song from that album. So when Alice came on stage and opened the show with “Department of Youth,” it was one of those special moments that only happen at a live music performance. As I saw the rapt look of joy on my daughter’s face, I couldn’t help but feel that Alice chose that song just for us. I know that I’m being naïve, but still, I couldn’t help feeling that way.

The rest of the show was classic Alice: the snake, the guillotine, the straightjacket, and the giant balloons and confetti during “School’s Out.” We had a great time and I have a memory of time spent with my daughter that I will always cherish.

Thanks Alice!