Hartford CT – The Agora Ballroom, April 2, 1986. My best friend from Riverhead, Rob, was going to school in Hartford. Naturally, it didn’t take much to convince myself to make this drive up from Long Island. I don’t even remember having a map, and this was obviously years before GPS but somehow I found this place and we met up. I ended up getting to the venue – in a very industrial, not very pretty looking part of Hartford – later in the afternoon. This was prior to meeting up with Rob and Cheap Trick was just finishing soundcheck. As I was milling around, lo and behold out on a loading dock was Robin Zander and Jon Brant! If I recall correctly, I think I heard a bit of their soundcheck. Of course, I was wearing my neon blue Standing On The Edge tour jacket on!
The Agora was not that big, I recall, maybe holding about 600-700 people. At the time I didn’t have anything to reference it to, but looking back I think it was about 2/3 the size of the legendary Toad’s Place in New Haven.
A band called Smashed Gladys opened. I think they threw out tiny plastic toy high-heeled shoes and the singer looked really slutty. Rob and I were pressed up to the stage (my tour jacket got scratched/worn from the edge of the stage) and that’s where we stayed when CT took the stage. Jon Brant and Bun E. Carlos started laying down the opening rumble of “Gonna Raise Hell” and that fell into “Hello There. WOW! Barely 10 feet away!!!! And it was LOUD! Though this was not really the Standing On The Edge tour, as that album came out almost a year earlier, and The Doctor had not come out yet, lots of material from SOTE was played. The title track was amazing; “Tonight It’s You” was incredible. “Little Sister,” and “How About You” were total rave-ups. I also remember a blistering version of “Baby Loves To Rock” where Rick played some crazy lead guitar. Another highlight was “Stop This Game,” in which, Rick during the big musical and lyric break in the chorus (“Stop…This Game”) leaned over to Rob and I and said “I gotta pee!” The Agora was so packed that the show was stopped because some girl behind us got trampled – Robin was leaning over us from the stage trying to implore the crowd to make some room. Robin was the epitome of rock star cool for me. Though I remember being disappointed when I saw a box of Marlboros in his shirt pocket!
I think this was the first time I got a handful of Rick’s picks…of which I still have several to this day.