Cheap Trick At Budokan: The Complete Concert

Cheap Trick (

Cheap Trick


As was the case before with others, Cheap Trick was immensely popular in Japan, at a time when the rest of the world hadn’t caught on yet. Were the Japanese right?

Yes, as far as I’m concerned. A highly sympathetic rock ‘n roll band, with catchy songs, fun lyrics and a great drive.

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick was formed in 1974. The original lineup, which existed up to 2010 (with a 6 year recess in between), consisted of lead guitar player (and main composer) Rick Nielsen, bass player Tom Petersson, drummer Bun E. Carlos and singer/guitar player Robin Zander. The name of the band stems from a remark by Petersson on a Slade concert: Slade used “every cheap trick in the book” during the show.

Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick / In Color / Heaven Tonight (

Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick / In Color / Heaven Tonight

The first three albums Cheap Trick, In Color and Heaven Tonight were released in 1977 and 1978 and went by largely unnoticed in Europe and the US. The last album, in particular, is a great rock album, on which Cheap Trick produces compositionally perfect songs. Loved by reviewers and critics, audiences were indifferent to Cheap Trick and the band was unsuccessful. The fourth album Dream Police was the one to change all that. But first the band had shows to do in Japan.

Cheap Trick in Japan

Cheap Trick may have been unsuccessful in the rest of the world, but in Japan they were big. I Want You To Want Me and Clock Strikes Ten had become hits. The albums performed good also. All three went Gold.

Cheap Trick - Concert ticket - 04/28/1978 (

Cheap Trick – Concert ticket – 04/28/1978

When the band went off to Japan in April of 1978 for a short tour, they were met by an uncontrollable crowd. Thousands of fans were present at the airport. The band’s first reaction was they must must have flown with someone famous on their plane. When they realized the crowd was there for them, they couldn’t believe it. For the remainder of their stay in Japan, the band was constantly escorted by police.

Cheap Trick was fairly accustomed to playing in large halls and stadiums, as they were often booked as a support act for the bigger acts. But, in Japan the band headlined those halls. On April 28th (40 years ago today) and 30th, 1978, the band played the Budokan stadium in Tokyo. 12,000 Delirious Japanese fans made so much noise that the band occasionally got drowned out. Both shows were recorded.

At Budokan

Cheap Trick - At Budokan (

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

Even though the band was displeased with the recordings (Rick Nielsen: “When we heard the tapes of the concert, we thought it sounded hideous”) the album Cheap Trick At Budokan was released on October 8th, 1978 (only in Japan). This was possible by the unusual construction that was applied by Columbia Records (of which Epic was a subsidiary label), which enabled the Japanese corporation to release live recordings without liability. A lot of those recordings were collector’s items.

When the band saw the cover design, they hated it, but they decided to let it be, because “don’t worry, no one’s ever gonna see it outside of Japan”. However, immediately after the Japanese release, a couple of DJ’s in the US started playing songs from the album. The small, but fanatical, following of American fans ordered the album via Japanese import. The fact the album was twice the price that had to be paid for a regular album, didn’t stop them.

Cheap Trick - From Tokyo To You (

Cheap Trick – From Tokyo To You

Record company Epic promptly made a promo of the album, titled From Tokyo To You, containing seven songs. The promo was sent to American radio stations. This resulted in even more import sales. In the meantime sales numbers had exceeded 30,000 copies, making it one of the best selling import of all time in the US.

So, Epic released the album worldwide in February of 1979. It became an international best-seller. Cheap Trick was famous all over the world. Over a period of one year Cheap Trick was the greatest rock band of the time (At Budokan was part of the Billboard albums top 100 for an astonishing run of more than 52 weeks). Thank you, Japan.

Upon hearing the song Surrender, I too was convinced. It’s still one of my all time favorite songs.

Mommy’s all right
Daddy’s all right
They just seem a little weird
But don’t give yourself away

© 1978 Surrender – Rick Nielsen

I Want You To Want Me

Cheap Trick - I Want You To Want Me - Japan (

Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me – Japan

Even though it is far from my favorite song, the band became huge in The Netherlands as well because of the single I Want You To Want Me. As early as 1975 the band used to introduce the song by remarking that they were going to play their hit song next. Although the band didn’t have a contract at the time of even had a record out, it does provide insight into the confidence they had in the song. But, the song didn’t translate well onto vinyl. The version that eventually ended up on their second record was not the way the band wanted it. They stopped playing the song live. By the time the band left for Japan, the song was no longer a part of the setlist.

Because I Want You To Want Me had been a hit in Japan, the band, at the very last moment, decided to place the song on the setlist for the Japanese shows. It turned out to be the highlight for the audience, which can be heard loud and clear during Cryin’, cryin’, cryin’, mimicking the echo of the studio version.

Cheap Trick had been right all along. To this day, I Want You To Want Me, is the band’s biggest hit.

Songs original release

All songs written by Rick Nielsen, unless stated otherwise.

  • Hello There
  • Come On, Come On
  • Lookout
  • Big Eyes
  • Need Your Love *
  • Ain’t That A Shame **
  • I Want You To Want Me
  • Surrender
  • Goodnight Now
  • Clock Strikes Ten
*   Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson
**   Antoine “Fats” Domino and Dave Bartholomew

The Complete Concert

Cheap Trick - At Budokan The Complete Concert (

Cheap Trick – At Budokan The Complete Concert

On April 28th, 1998, 20 years after the first concert at Budokan, the complete Budokan concert was released as a double-cd under the moniker At Budokan: The Complete Concert. The Complete Concert is still a compilation of both shows, but is a true reflection of the complete setlist for both of the shows, in the original running order. On top of that, the recordings are remastered.

Because the initial release was specifically targeted at their Japanese audience, the album contained the more friendly songs by the band. It was what made the band popular in Japan. When the album gained worldwide attention, the band therefore became known for their ‘poppier’ side. The more heavy sound of the other songs can be heard in all its glory on The Complete Concert.

I hadn’t listened to the album for quite some time, even though I owned a copy on cd. The renewed acquaintance was not unwelcome. In fact, it was very nice indeed. It’s a truly exciting rock ‘n’ roll concert by a band that’s clearly well rehearsed. A classic live album.

10 Years later A 30th Anniversary Edition, Budokan! was released, which included The Complete Concert and a dvd of the concert.


All songs written by Rick Nielsen, unless stated otherwise.

  • Hello There
  • Come On, Come On
  • ELO Kiddies
  • Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace
  • Big Eyes
  • Lookout
  • Downed
  • Can’t Hold On
  • Oh Caroline
  • Surrender
  • Auf Wiedersehen *
  • Need Your Love *
  • High Roller **
  • Southern Girls *
  • I Want You To Want Me
  • California Man ***
  • Goodnight
  • Ain’t That A Shame ****
  • Clock Strikes Ten
*   Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson
**   Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Robin Zander
***   Roy Wood
****   Antoine “Fats” Domino and Dave Bartholomew
Cheap Trick - At Budokan video stills (

Cheap Trick – At Budokan video stills


The 1970’s were the golden era for rock live albums. Think Kiss’ Alive!/Alive II and Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive. But most certainly also At Budokan. The band is on fire, the songs are good to very good. The atmosphere the Japanese audience delivers, is sublime. I play this album regularly, still. As stated before, Surrender is one of my all time favorite songs. The live version is heavier than the Heaven Tonight version, which was released just one week prior to the Budokan concerts.

There is a remarkable resemblance with Kiss. They, too, hadn’t gotten anywhere based on their first three albums. Just like Cheap Trick, the release of a live-album delivered the expected success. Both live albums contained songs off the first three studio albums, but the heavier, rawer performances felt right for listeners.

By the way, the album strongly reminds me of the period that my wife was pregnant with our first son. We had purchased wooden furniture for the nursery. For a couple of days I busied myself with painting the furniture (white). All I played was At Budokan: The Complete Concert.

Cheap Trick - At Budokan - Gold record - Tokyo 1979 (

Cheap Trick – At Budokan – Gold record – Tokyo 1979

After At Budokan

Starting with the very next release, studio album Dream Police (the planned fourth album, which got delayed after the unexpected success of At Budokan), the band proved unable to continue their success. The successor to Dream Police sold even less. The 1980’s were hard for Cheap Trick, but the band nonetheless survived.

The band still exists today and still releases albums (independently). Nowadays, Cheap Trick is held in high esteem by an impressive amount of bands and artists and regarded as invaluable and highly influential by by the likes of Ramones’ Joey Ramone, Kiss’ Gene Simmons, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, AC/DC’s Angus Young, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Big Black, Poison, Gin Blossoms, Urge Overkill, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, Jason & the Scorchers, Everclear, Extreme, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Fountains of Wayne, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, Hüsker Dü, Slipknot, Alice in Chains, Alice Cooper and The Melvins.

Cheap Trick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan (

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan


The success of the Cheap Trick live album had its consequences for the stadium that staged the shows as well. At the time, the Budokan organized rock concerts occasionally. However, after Cheap Trick’s performances, releasing the album with the stadium’s name in the title and its immense international success, almost everybody released his or her Live At Budokan, ranging from Bob Dylan to Chic. It proved, or at least gave the impression, the artist was internationally successful.

In closing

What do you think of the live album At Budokan? Let me know!


Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!