Last Saturday night I visited the beautiful outdoor venue called Ravinia, which is located in Highland Park IL to see Cheap Trick. I don’t travel to Ravinia on a yearly basis to see concerts there, from the Southside of Chicago, it feels so far away to me. I dread the commute to get there. Should we drive, take the train, drive and take advantage of the park and ride lots outside of Ravinia? You have choices which help with this faraway venue. My friend Chris lives in Indiana so she drove to my house, then we drove to downtown Chicago and found a cheap parking spot reserved thru Spothero (only 10.00 bucks), then walked over to the Ogilvie Train Station to take the Metra Ravinia train to Ravinia’s gate. We got bumped off the 5:35 train (not sure why as Metra doesn’t always explain these types of things, just get off this train), then got on the very crowded 5:45 train. We got to Ravinia around 6:40ish. So, when you finally arrive to Ravinia, you can’t help but stop and say, wow, this place is really nice, because it really is! We had time for a quick dinner and drink before the show started at 7:30.
Cheap Trick was performing St Pepper record as well as the Budokan Live record. I was hoping for a glass of wine and didn’t pack a full bottle with me so I found a drink cart that sold me a plastic cup of red wine for $8.00. My friend Chris went to the seats we had in the pavilion. I know so many people who enjoy parking themselves in the lawn with chairs, blankets, tables, coolers, food, candles, etc., and there is certainly nothing wrong with that especially if it’s the symphony playing however this was Cheap Trick playing, we HAD to see to the band play, not just hear then. I got my wine and made a quick phone call as the band began to play promptly at 7:30pm.
I went to the pavilion and was stopped by the usher as I was not able to head to my seat while the current song was being played. Also, I was told no drinks in the pavilion so I had to down my $8.00 wine quickly. Security needed to check my backpack again too (it was checked when I first initially entered the park). What did they think I would shove some sticks in my backpack once I got in the venue?? Anyway, the polite usher took me to my seat and I was so surprised to see we were in the 16th row, what a please surprise! Great view, exceptional sound!
The band started with Sgt Pepper which featured the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and backup singers which consisted of 4 young men dressed in the long gray jackets circa ‘meet the Beatles’ era. Robin Zander, lead singer of the band, wore his all white suit featuring a long white suit jacket with some red rhinestones, looked sharp. Zander has the perfect voice to sing Beatles songs. Cheap Trick isn’t trying to be a Beatles cover band with this show; they are seasoned musician paying homage to one of their favorite bands. Rick Nielsen’s guitar playing was in top form as usual, he proudly played his yellow guitar which featured the 4 Beatle member’s faces on it. Ravinia’s orchestra plus the backup singers combined with Rick, Robin, Tom & Daxx, it sounded flawless, everyone at the park was singing along to every song.
The band took a 15 minute break and came back on stage to play Budokan for us. Cheap Trick @ Budokan was released in 1978 and was originally recorded as a live record in Japan in front of 12,000 screaming fans. The record went on to be certified platinum. Cheap Trick played the entire record for us in track order. Rick Nielsen donned a gold glitter guitar for the song Need Your Love and gave that song a great psychedelic feel. Rick, at the age of 64, roamed around the stage so effortlessly playing that song and you scratch your head and say, really, he is 64? No way! He’s just that good. I loved hearing Ain’t That A Shame but will admit, I miss seeing Bun E Carlos on the drums for that song because on a song like that, you need Bun E.
Rick Nielsen is known for throwing his guitar picks out to the crowd as well as album flats with picks attached to them. He threw one out the crowd and a young guy caught it. Guess this fellow didn’t want the album flat, so he gave it to Billy Corgan who was in the same row. Rick kindly outed Billy Corgan too, by calling out his name and telling the audience to go to Billy’s house for drinks after the show. Billy is a huge Cheap Trick fan as I have seen him perform with Cheap Trick at many shows in the past.
It was a beautiful night at Ravinia, great show, great weather, and yes, so far from the southside of Chicago. Once the show ended, Ravinia ushers announced that Metra trains were leaving in 15 minutes so we walked briskly to the train platform and spent about 40 minutes waiting for the train to arrive. By the time the train arrived in downtown Chicago, it was after 11pm sometime, I got home before midnight, it felt like a long commute because it was, but certainly worth it.
Cheap Trick Ravinia setlist 8.31.13:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
With A Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Fixing A Hole
She’s Leaving Home
Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite
Within You Without You
When I’m 64
Sgt Pepper Reprise
A Day In The Life
Come On Come On
Need Your Love
Ain’t That S Shame
I Want You To Want Me
Clock Strikes Ten
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End (encore – this is not on Budokan)
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