Reliving some great years

Cheap Trick took me back to my Yakima radio days

Wednesday night, I relived quite a few years down at the Tacoma Dome.  It was a Cheap Trick/Aerosmith double-bill and both groups took me back.

Even the Tacoma Dome experience brought back memories.  I haven’t done a lot of concerts down there, but all were memorable.  There was the George Michael show, when I had to get up at 2am the next morning to be on the radio.  So, I left the concert early….only to find my car blocked in the place we parked.  I had to wait until the concert was over and cars moved before I could head home.  I had missed the end of the concert for nothing.

I have to say that the commute to and from is the absolute worst part of the T-Dome concert experience.  The show ended at 11 and we didn’t get home until shortly before 1.  Add that to a 90-minute rush hour drive home and we spent more time in traffic than we did listening to music.

But it was all worth it.

Cheap Trick returned me to my Yakima radio days.  When you work in a secondary market (a small one that the record labels paid attention to, only when they wanted you to help break their artists), they tell you hot this band is going to be and flood you with free albums to give away and, of course, for your collection.  I remember playing the studio version of “I want you to want me”…but the group didn’t enjoy real success with that song until they picked up the tempo and performed it live in Japan.  I’ve still got that studio album somewhere in the basement.  It was a brand-new band, we played a couple of songs off the album and now, here I was 34 years later, listening to them in the Tacoma Dome.

Both groups battled sound problems. Cheap trick, at times, sounded distorted and not mixed very well.  They played most of the night before bringing out their hits, which could have been for a couple of reasons–to leave you with a good taste from them after wading through their lesser-known and newer stuff….or, to rev up the crowd for Aerosmith, who followed them 20-minutes after they left the stage.  The only risk of that is that the crowd remained tepid for the bulk of their time on stage.  They cheered, but more like they had to than they wanted to.

Now, for Aerosmith.  Getting the negative out of the way immediately, it was unfortunate that the building didn’t work for them or that their sound mixer didn’t hear what we heard.  Lead instruments got lost.  A sax solo occurred–I know that, because we saw her play on the big screen–but we couldn’t hear it.  I hummed along in my head to make up for it.

But the bottom line–we experienced an Aerosmith concert.  The group gave us their all.  Each member was given a little solo time, Joe Perry more than others.  If this was a new group without a name, I would have described them as The Steven Tyler Band, with Joe Perry.  Joe is getting well-deserved recognition in the band’s later years, but Steven Tyler IS Aerosmith.  His vocals, his playfulness on stage, his vocal range….it’s all still there.   Everyone worked as hard as if they were auditioning for American Idol or that they needed to win us over.

I’ll be honest–there were a couple of times that Steven started to sing the next line and it wasn’t time yet….but he covered nicely.  That’s to be expected after taking such a long break, doing some rehab and hanging out on American Idol for two years.  But Tyler said he left the show to get back to his true love and this, being the second to last concert in their current tour, would have been a great place to start winding down.  Not a chance.

I caught Aerosmith years ago in a mega concert at Anaheim with all kinds of other bands, as well as at least one time in Key Arena during my college years.  I saw that band again.  Not an older version–for Pete’s sake, we were so far back, they probably left the stage five minutes before we saw it–but it was pure Aerosmith and the boys from Boston put on a real show.

My wife, Victoria had never seen them live before.  I was excited she go to see the band I remember and live performances of the songs that filled the dorm rooms of Terry Hall at the University of Washington so long, long ago.

Thanks everyone for a fun, albeit loud, night down Memory Lane.

Tim Hunter

The train kept a rollin’ all night long

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