Except Tom didn't feel well. He was knocked out by a nasty cold? Allergies? I don't know, whatever the reason he was feeling crummy. So crummy, in fact, that he opted out of the show. My perfect title. Denied.
On the way to the concert, our heat wave was broken by a downpour. With the windshield wipers on full speed I was still blinded. I turned to the girls and asked, "How much do you want to see Cheap Trick?" They looked at me like I was both new here AND smoking crack. They weren't gonna let a little rain keep them down. I'll take this moment to digress and point out that last week when I borrowed Billy Joel's Cold Spring Harbor from the library, both girls said, and I quote, "I can't believe you're listening to this when there's Cheap Trick in your car."
Wouldn't be my first concert in the rain.
As we stood in line for the general admission show (numbers 13, 14 and 15 in line we were, thank you very much) I thought of another good blog title: Three Out of Four Howards Agree: Cheap Trick is Worth Getting Wet For. I hadn't thought about the double entendre evident in that one until just this moment when I typed it out (at the time, my meaning was infinitely obvious). I probably made the right call not going with that one, though.
As the rain died down, the line behind us grew. We - and the handful of people in front of us - were soaked to the skin. A guy came out in a Dream Police uniform, handing out VIP passes. Did he even approach us drowned rats who did the hard-core waiting through the storm? Aw, you know the answer to that. He approached groups of pretty women in their 20's. I suppose that's good. Pretty women in their 20's never get any breaks. Their lives are pretty tough. The world is most unkind to them. It was nice of him to bring a little sunshine to their dismal existence. (VIP passes, BTW, weren't - like - a backstage, meet the band sort of thing - it just meant they got to sit at one of the VERY FEW tables with chairs at a general admission outdoor concert.)
The girls walked in the gate before me and as my bag was being inspected, a guy giving out wristbands approached them and asked if they'd be drinking tonight. He was going to give my 14 year old and my 12 year old drinking wristbands! Never fear, MamaBear is here. "They will NOT!" He laughed and acted like he wasn't ready to give them each one (which he totally was). Oh, if I'd sent my babies to that concert alone or with friends...
T-shirts were purchased and we found an excellent spot in the wet grass (just behind the VIP section...) We spread our blanket and engaged in some people watching while we waited. The T-shirt slogans were excellent, but the mullet count stood at a disappointing zero. My favorite T-shirt of the night? Liver is evil. It must be punished. Runner up was a Blue Oyster Cult tour shirt from 1974. I wish I'd kept all of my concert T-shirts. I always wore them until they were unwearable then threw them out. Regrets.
A couple years ago I predicted the results of the presidential election based on T-shirts spotted at summer festivals. This year I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict a surge in popularity for hats, particularly for men. That might be wishful thinking - I really like hats. When I mentioned this prediction to my daughters they pointed out that there might have been so many men wearing hats because a band who hit it's peak of popularity in the late 70's is bound to have more than it's share of bald or balding fans. My girls are smart-asses. I don't know where they get it.
Squeeze opened up. They brought me coffee in bed and tempted me with the fruit of another. I thought they looked great in their suits and skinny ties. Took me right straight back (to when I was a pretty girl in my 20's and the world was a much kinder place). My girls thought the suits made them look old. Liv pointed out that the drummer couldn't possibly play his best constricted by a suit. They were clearly unimpressed. I was meh. They were fine, but they weren't who I was there to see. As far as openers go, I don't think it was a very good fit - which is always sort of unfair.
As the roadies took the stage to clear out Squeeze's gear and set up Cheap Trick's, my girls were enthralled. I sat back and watched them watch - making comments to each other as each item was brought out or unveiled. The lights went down, the spotlight came up, and we were treated to a pop-culture medley of Cheap Trick references and covers. My personal favorite?
Lisa: Haven't you ever listened to yourself on a tape recorder?Followed, of course, by Apu singing Dream Police. For a pop-culture junkie like me there really couldn't have been a better way to precede the show. Fun stuff.When they finally took the stage, the girls and I went into full-on squealy fangirl mode. I've seen Cheap Trick several times and I have never been disappointed. Robin Zander and Ric Nielsen are total package entertainers. (Also, Robin Zander is kind of sex on a stick - but I promised myself I wasn't going to objectify men anymore. Of course I've also promised myself I'd never drink again, on occasion, so...) They pulled out all the old stuff (No, that was not a double entendre. Get your mind out of the gutter.) and it sounded as good as it did the first time around.
Homer: I prefer to listen to Cheap Trick.
They performed one song from their Vegas Sgt. Pepper show - Magical Mystery Tour. I didn't like it at first, but by the middle I dug it a lot. I think covers of very popular songs are bound to hit you that way. It just took me a few moments to get into a new mode. Once I stopped trying to hear the Beatles and allowed myself to hear Cheap Trick, it was fun.
Lea was thrilled to see Tom Petersson playing his 12 string bass (Heaven Tonight was the first album recorded using a 12 string bass. If you didn't know that before, you've learned something new. You can go back to bed. Tell your boss/spouse/kids I said so.) Bun E. Carlos is not touring with them, although he is very much still in the band. Their tour drummer? Daxx Neilsen. Son of the venerable Rick Neilsen. Nepotism is alive and well and living in rock and/or roll. Rick and Tom switched their instruments out after almost every song - providing us with not only a kick-ass concert, but the opportunity to see and hear some of the coolest instruments around. Did the 5 necked guitar make an appearance? Sure did, but not until the call-back.
This was the opening night of their summer tour - I always love it when I get to hear a band early in the tour. If they come to your town, I hope you get a chance to see them. WELL worth the price of admission.
Feel better, Tom - concert season is just getting underway!