So if you haven’t already guessed, Cheap Trick is my favorite band of all time. The most-played soundtrack to my life, basically. It all started in 1978 when I got the Live At Budokan album on 8-track. Fast forward many years later and I’ve seen the band live roughly 43 or so times, met them on many different occasions, had beers with Rick Nielsen at a TGIFriday’s in Amarillo, TX and played several of his guitars in St. Paul, MN in 1995 (or was it 1996).
Anyway…back to the live shows. Several years ago I started writing down my thoughts – what was left of them – of the various shows, starting with the very first time I saw Rockford, Illinois’ Finest Export. Without further adieu, here’s chapter 1, with the first two shows…
First Cheap Trick Concert: June 1985 @ Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
Opened for REO Speedwagon. Went with my best friend Rob and then-girlfriend Liz. Barely made it to the show in time. Decent seats, bumped into my cousin Scott Rosen there. This was just prior to the release of Standing On The Edge. I really didn’t know what to expect because in 1985 I had never even seen any concert footage (outside of one TV appearance)! I was blown away with the power and charisma and was on my feet the entire show. Rick was all over the stage, flicking picks everywhere. Robin Zander personified lead singer coolness. Jon Brant was laid back but looked cool just the same. Bun E. Carlos made his pounding look effortless. The stage set was pretty basic, as they were the opening act, but the amps were covered in cool scrims featuring the mid-eighties blurry logo (which I LOVED). They played the title track for the upcoming record, which Rick introduced as “Standing On The Edge of A Bilge.” At least that’s what I think he said. “Surrender” included my first sighting of a five-neck guitar.
For me, hearing the classic CT songs live for the first time was awe-inspiring. Bun E.’s brother was one of the passengers in a hijacked plane around that time and REO dedicated “Riding The Storm Out” to him. I’m pretty sure most of the band came out and sang back up for this.
Since they opened for REO, they did about 60 minutes. An hour or so after their set amongst 15,000 folks waving their lighters during REO’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” I was standing there wishing Cheap Trick was still on…
RadioCityMusic Hall – Halloween Night, 1985
Co-headlining with John Waite at the famous NY theatre. Went with Keith Zebroski and someone else (Pete Mastropolo?). CT went on first, and the crowd was crazy. I’m pretty sure that Joey Ramone was sitting in front of me. I remember the energy level being sky-high. Maybe because it was NYC, or Halloween; everything just seemed bigger. Certainly the venue was much bigger than the Agora! One highlight was “Tonight Its You,” where Robin wore the same sunglasses that he wore in the video for the song. At the start of that giant pre-chorus, he flung the sunglasses into the audience and the place went nuts. Rick had one his skeleton outfit underneath the obligatory CT t-shirt and black pants. During the encore, he was in full skeleton regalia. Though I am now a big fan of John Waite, we didn’t stick around to see him. Our reasoning was that there was no way he could top the mighty Trick on this night, so why bother?