11 Cheap Trick Concerts, 11 Venues
Anyone who knows me knows that Cheap Trick is my favorite band of all time. I remember hearing I Want You to Want Me for the first time and realizing right then that Cheap Trick was the band for me. Waiting for that song to come on the radio was the only thing that kept me motivated working in the kitchen at Pioneer Chicken in San Carlos.
Below is a brief history of me and Cheap Trick live.
12/31/80 – San Diego Sports Arena, with the Tremblers
New Year’s Eve. What a great night for one’s first Cheap Trick concert. And of course, that was the first time I saw Rick toss a KISS album into the audience during Surrender. I’ve seen that 10 more times since. Many other shenanigans were perpetrated that night – shenanigans I won’t discuss to protect both the innocent and the guilty. Little did anyone know that this would be the last live performance of the Tremblers, a brief project of Peter Noone, best known for Herman and the Hermits.
5/8/82 – San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, KGB Sky Show
Back when KGB was an actual rock station and did cool stuff like have Sky Shows, this was the best Sky Show ever. Cheap Trick was the headliner. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Chuck Berry and (the mostly forgotten) Susan Lynch were also on the bill. The field was open, so I was able to get right up to the stage. At one point, this big biker dude standing about five feet to my left reached into his denim jacket, pulled out a big, live snake, and started waving it around. Hold onto that thought until you get down to the Belly Up below.
12/7/82 – Fox Theatre
As I remember it, the Sky Show kicked off that tour and this date at the Fox ended it. This was the first time I saw Cheap Trick with Shelley Ikel, who next May became Mrs. Shelley San Filippo. The Fox Theatre as a building is gone, but the guts of the venue have been preserved as part of the Symphony Towers. Shelley and I saw Elvis Costello there a couple of years ago.
6/14/99 – Cane’s Bar & Grill, Mission Beach
Kids have a way of making you too busy and too broke to go to many concerts. Thus, I took a 17-year break from seeing Cheap Trick live. In 1999, our sons were 12 and 9, so it seemed like a good time to start getting back into concerts. This show was cool because it was such a small venue. The only time I was closer to the band was at the Sky Show – except for that time at the Belly Up.
4/17/10 – Long Beach Grand Prix
After a long, hot day of high-performance auto racing, we were treated to a Cheap Trick concert. It was an outdoor venue on concrete slab with no seating, but man it was worth it. This was the first time I saw Daxx Nielsen (Rick’s son), who had replaced Bun E. Carlos as Cheap Trick’s “touring” drummer. He kicked ass on Gonna Raise Hell.
12/7/12 – Pechanga Casino, Temecula
We drove up with our friends Rick and Tracy and spent the night. Much alcohol was consumed. Enough said.
6/10/15 – San Diego County Fair
Cheap Trick opened for Peter Frampton. The stands were pretty well packed, but when Cheap Trick finished their set, I swear about half the crowd got up and left. We stuck around for Frampton. The other memorable moment was when they had just finished a song and Shelley said to me, “How come they never play Ain’t That a Shame in concert?” I said I had no idea, but I shit you not, about three seconds later, they broke into the intro for Ain’t That a Shame.
12/15/15 – The Belly Up, Solana Beach
This was just before Cheap Trick was announced as a Hall of Fame inductee. The Belly Up is a pretty small venue and for a couple hundred extra dollars, you could do a meet-and-greet with the band before the show. Of course, that’s exactly what we did. Attendees were warned not to bring any schwag for autographs because that was strictly prohibited. I was disappointed that Cheap Trick would be such dicks, but it turned out they weren’t the dicks. That was a Belly Up rule. Shelley snuck in my Found All the Parts EP and Rick and Robin were more than happy to sign it with the silver marker that happened to be in my pocket. When I was talking to Rick, I asked him if he remembered the San Diego Stadium show in 1982. He said, “Oh, yeah, with Joan Jett,” which kinda amazed me. I said, “Do you remember the guy with the snake?” He looked me square in the eye and asked in a hushed tone, “Was that you?”
8/30/16 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Rock Hall Three for All
After they were inducted into the Rock Hall, Cheap Trick went on tour with Joan Jett and Heart, billed as The Rock Hall Three for All. We flew to Denver and went to the show with Shelley’s nephew and his girlfriend. Cheap Trick got to finish their whole set, but then it started to rain. And rain. And rain. Concertgoers were advised to go back to their cars, but we toughed it out. And got soaked. There’s a strict curfew at Red Rocks courtesy of the town of Morrison down the hill, so by the time the rain let up, Joan Jett and Heart didn’t have time to do their complete sets. The rain did give Joan time to get wasted, though, because she was lit by the time she came out. And she was awesome. Heart kinda disappointed me because they were reduced to about a 20-minute set, but still insisted on playing a couple songs from their new album – songs that nobody knew.
8/29/17 – Sleep Train Amphitheater, Chula Vista
This time, Cheap Trick opened for Foreigner on Foreigner’s 40th anniversary tour. Except it wasn’t really Foreigner. It was a fat, bald Mick Jones and a bunch of young guys he pulled together for this tour. After Cheap Trick was done, we stayed for one Foreigner song just to say we saw them, then left.
10/12/19 – San Diego State OAT, ZZ Top’s 50th Anniversary Tour
Any night you see Cheap Trick is a good night. However, ZZ Top was kind of a letdown. You’d think for their 50th anniversary, they’d have a big, blow-your-top show. Such was not the case. The buddies I went with and I all agreed they seemed to just dial it in.
The Shows I Missed
I had plans/tickets for three Cheap Trick concerts that apparently weren’t meant to be. One time I bought tickets for a street fair in Joplin, MO. I knew I wouldn’t go, but I got them as a gag for a buddy of mine who is also a big fan. Then I had tickets to see them in Vegas, but that turned out to be the same weekend as a wedding I couldn’t miss. The buddy I didn’t go to Joplin with got those tickets. Finally, Cheap Trick was supposed to be at the 2020 San Diego County Fair. Thanks COVID!