Naturally our first thought was to find a bar. I don’t remember exactly what was around the theater but I have a clear image in my mind that there was nothing of interest with in walking distance. However, right across the street from the concert was a small Chinese restaurant. I wasn’t particularly hungry but they did have a sign in the window with a beer bottle prominently displayed. Crossing the threshold of the restaurant was like crossing into another world. There was not one single thing I could not recognize from my own culture, nor was anything in written in English. On the right side of the restaurant was a small bar only about six seats long. Somehow I remember the bar in detail. The bar was supposed to look exotic, it was made out of bamboo with exotic postcards on top and had a layer of acrylic poured over it so thickly that the plastic became the major structural member. Cigarette burns were so deep they made the drinking glasses wobble. Decorations were covering every square inch of the walls and ceiling. Most of the decorations were red and gold (lucky colors) of dragons, bamboo plants, and stylized lettering.
As soon as we sat down at the bar the little old man behind the bar approached us. He said something but we couldn’t understand anything he was saying. It could have been our lack of experience with accents or he could have been speaking Chinese. We got the drift anyway; he wanted to know what we wanted to order. The menu was in Chinese, and simply asking for Beer seemed so pedestrian, if you know what I mean. I had an inspiration; there was a sign on the wall.
Our pronunciation of Tsingtao was so bad that the only way we could get a beer is by pointing to the sign and show two fingers like a peace sign. Then he smiled and said “Ching-dow” which is how Tsingtao sounds when pronounced properly. Feeling kind of stupid, I said yes nodded a few times and hoped for the best. If I remember right it was only a buck a bottle for the beer, and it was really good. I also remember that he kept picking up the empty bottles, this made keeping track of how much we drank much more difficult. That was probably the idea. The beer was wonderful, quite the change from what I was used to at the time. Cheap beer with optional temperature control was the norm until the British enlightenment only a few months away. This was my first real experience drinking really cold good quality imported beer.
We managed to sober up enough to enjoy Cheap Trick and only had to suffer through a few minutes of Translator. We were close enough to play the catch souvenirs. Cheap Trick was famous for tossing things out to the audience, particularly Rick Nielson the lead guitarist. He would toss out custom made guitar picks like little finger Frisbees. I remember he had a dispenser with probably hundreds of picks in a tube made for the purpose. Either my brother could hold his liquor better than I, or he is much better with hand eye dexterity because he was catching stuff left and right. I came away with one guitar pick that he got for me, but he got at least three and Robin Zander’s sun glasses! I promised my wife a guitar pick for her mandolin, he was my hero for catching one and giving it to me.
The three things that stuck in my mind most about the concert was my brothers amazing catching ability, and how nice it was spending some good quality time drinking beer with him in the odd little restaurant.
Cheap Trick was good, and we had a good time, but what sticks in my mind is the total experience.
The actual concert was only a portion of the total show.
-ps. I lost all interest in Cheap Trick shortly after the concert, not due to their music or or the concert, I think my tasts simply changed over time and lost track of what they were doing.