Monday, June 25, 2007

Let's Do The Time Warp Again - Part One

1980 Revisited: For Umlaut (and many of his friends) this was a landmark gig:

Fast forward to the 21st Century and both Cheap Trick and the Michael Schenker Group were playing within 24 hours of each other. Let's do the time warp again...

Cheap Trick
Marin-Sonoma Fair, Petaluma, CA
June 22, 2007

Although Cheap Trick were the forbidden fruit that set me on my righteous path to Music Geekdom, I haven't seen them live in 10 years.. but nothing could have prepared me for this epic night.

Over a pre-gig dinner, Umlaut and friends John Marshall and Vickie talked about circles of life and how often we experience them; people or events from years past that continue to influence our lives to this day. The conversation turned out to be a profound omen, as a circle that started for Umlaut back in 1978 was completed on this night in Petaluma... When I was 15 years old I could not have imagined this:

While chatting with Robin Zander the fanboy switch accidentally went off in my head and I kinda lost it and gushed:


I immediately felt like a complete dork... and other Rock Stars might have started to slowly back away from me at this point while signaling their bodyguards to take me down.. but Robin's reply was something like:

"WOW!! Well, you know, we're still the same 4 guys playing the same 3 chords..."

He was such a nice, cool guy.. Later, I thought that maybe that was his standard reply when confronted by fanboys like me.. but I'd like to think not.

Thankfully my fanboy switch returned to the *off* position and I didn't gush to Rick how I had a sweater in 1978 like the one he wore onstage and covered it with Cheap Trick buttons... Ohhhh... errr... did I just say that? Oookayy... just ignore that... let's move on...

From the Umlaut Archives

Man, CT were so fucking great; they're still great musicians and a band with more onstage charisma than a dozen 21st Century bands combined... AND they played 'Oh Candy'! After 'Big Eyes', Rick took off the guitar he had played during the song and handed it to someone in the front row ala Green Day on their 2005 Tour and The Hellacopters on their 2006 Tour. Yeah, it was only a cheapie $200 axe but it was still cool. Don't be such a jaded mofo!

I was having 'Nam-like flashbacks to my teenage years watching Tom Petersson wield his 12-string bass from up close. Dude, 12-strings... He lays down a wall of bottom end equivalent to 3 normal bassists! You can't defend yourself against firepower of that magnitude... and Bun E. was wearing a long sleeve Metal Shoppe shirt! Metalheads will know what I mean; wasn't that store in Salt Lake City?

My personal favorite song of the set was 'Auf Wiedersehen', which was unbelievably smoking.. However, a close second was 'Surrender' featuring Rick playing his 5-neck guitar.. and YES they still throw a KISS vinyl album cover out into the crowd during the song.. I wonder where they get those album covers these days?? Discuss amongst yourselves. However, the best part of the night was the name checks CT gave to John Marshall and Vickie from the stage!

Long story short, Vickie has a lot of history with CT; how often are you with someone who's greeted by Rock Stars with the question "How's your mom?".. Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright. Later during the show, Rick jokingly introduced 'If You Want My Love' as the song "Vickie Strate wrote..." and I turned to her and said "You did!??".. and then later in the set during 'I Want You To Want Me' he walked over to our side of the stage and pointed at Vickie. So fucking hilarious!

Also, prior to the show, both Rick and Robin remembered seeing John and his old band Metal Church... and ironically one of the stagehands / roadies was wearing a vintage Metal Church shirt! Circle of life, man. Later during the show, Rick pointed John out to the crowd and asked "What was your band again.. Metal Gonads? No.. Metal Church!".. and told the crowd that if they needed guitar lessons they should see John... and then during the following song he walked over to our side of the stage, hit a chord, held up his vintage Flying-V, and pointed at John. So fucking awesome!

To top it off, Rick did his trademark gesture of throwing handfuls of guitar picks into the crowd.. Near the end of the set he showered our side of the audience with picks but I couldn't catch one... However, one landed inside Vickie's shirt, which she retrieved and handed to me. So fucking hilarious!!

This might end up being my favorite concert of 2007.. Iggy's 60th Birthday show was amazing, but this gig was really, really personal for Umlaut... I was tripping out on so many levels the entire evening. THANKS to Vickie for enabling my Inner Teenage Music Geek by introducing me to the first Lock 'N Loll Heroes I ever had. What a trip.

If you bought one of every Cheap Trick merch item you would have paid around $205. On the way back to the car, some pimply-teenagers called us fags. I'm hard pressed to think of the last time I smiled so much during a concert; my face was almost hurting afterwards. F-U-N!

From the Cheap Trick Fan Club Newsletter - 1979

Cheap Trick are the only "old" band I can think of that nobody is cynical about; everyone still gets gushy about them when they come up in conversation. Straight up: They still rule. I'm not kidding when I say that, at least for this week, CT are my all-time favorite band. Sorry Iron Maiden.

Then 24 hours later I was watching the Michael Schenker Group hit the stage... and the time warp continued; it's just a jump to the left and then a step to the right.

To be continued.....