Welcome to my Kill to Get Crimson 2008 tour blog!

My name is Isaac, 30 years old from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I have set this blog up for the purpose of documenting the journey I am taking following Mark Knopfler’s Kill to Get Crimson tour in North America, in the summer of 2008.

The North American leg of the tour, as well as my journey, begins June 24th in Morrison, Colorado and ends on July 31st in Miami Beach, Florida.

Even though I intend to write on a daily basis, publishing the stories onto the server would be tricky. After all, we’re talking about vast distances which will be primarily crossed by driving, and there is no way for me to predict the availability of Internet connection throughout the way.

So… make yourself at home and feel free to drop a comment.

Yours,

Isaac

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chastain Park Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA

Kami, Bruce and myself left Kami’s house in Middlesboro, KY at around 11:00am, after having a quick pancake breakfast (thanks Bruce). Bruce and I talked for about 30 minutes about what’s missing in America (in every aspect of life) and how to fix. Very interesting discussion.

The weather was warm and sunny; a perfect morning for sitting outside on the deck, having coffee and sharing some laughs—which we didn’t do. We decided to hit the road to Atlanta, get there early, check into the hotel (Hyatt Regency—Downtown) so we have plenty of time to hang out before the show.

Before we left, I took some pictures of the house we were staying in:

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After about an hour of driving, we all experienced moderate hunger—not surprising as sugary breakfast is known to have this effect on people. As we didn’t want to sit down in a full‐blown restaurant, we decided on some fast food. I suggested Hardee’s, Bruce said that he had some bad experience with Hardee’s in the past so we ended up in Wendy’s.

A few minutes of interfacing with uni‐tasking humans and we got our meals. We didn’t really take our time with this food as there’s nothing there to be craved for and enjoy. Within ten minutes we fled the scene, not before driving through Starbucks for some tasty beverage. It turned out that Kami collects Starbucks mugs, so we parked the car and went into the store. No interesting mugs so we left.

As we were driving towards Atlanta, weather became nastier. Patches of heavy rain and gusty winds, which made poor Kami (who drove so much for two days in a row!) slow down, lengthening our travel time.

The views you get through this ride are very impressive. It’s funny how I never knew that Tennessee has all these mountains, rivers and lakes. I am a nature lover and, had I known about the fantastic views you get here, I would definitely have visited more often.

It seems that Kami, Bruce and myself can’t really go on for more than 10 minutes without coming up with some sick joke that makes us all roll into extreme laughter. They mentioned it’s hard for them to find people with whom they can laugh so hard, about everything—no sacred cows. I felt the same way.

We pulled over to another Starbucks somewhere in Tennessee. I was in an extremely joyful mood. Approaching the counter, I asked Kami if she wants anything, she said no. I turned to the cashier—poor girl, she’ll remember it for years—and asked her if she wants anything.

– “Actually, we get all of this for free…”

– “Oh. I would really like to be your friend, then.”

She laughed.

– “But if it wasn’t all for free, I’d be happy to!”

I gazed at the menu. I know the Starbucks menu by heart already.

– “I don’t know what I want. What do you think I want?”

She stares at me, blue eyes wide open.

– “Well… do you want it hot or cold?”

Gulp.

– “Hot.”

– “So… you want a latte.”

– “Yes, a latte should be good.”

– “What size?”

– “If I had a penny for every time a woman asked me that, I’d be broke.”

It took her about two seconds of looking at me, trying to compute what she has just heard, and then started laughing as if the world is about to cease to exist and everybody must get rid of all of their laughter credits before the universe dissolves.

Some more chit‐chat, mostly about my peculiar accent, and we were all on our way again.

Once we hit Atlanta, it took us about an hour to get into the hotel. Some highway ramps were under construction, the GPS proved to be of no help and we were clueless until we saw the I‐75 “detour” signs and were able to figure it out. We arrived at the first hotel that had “Hyatt” in its name, parked and walked to the check‐in counter (heavy rain outside), only to find out that this is “Hyatt Place” or something, and that the “Hyatt Regency” is one block further.

Kami and Bruce returned to the car. I wanted to check the Internet to see whether or not the show is cancelled (weather was horrible, thunderstorm alerts etc.), so I decided to simply walk one block to our destination. There I am walking in the rain, crossing the longest block in the world, then I arrived at the hotel. Kami and Bruce showed up about 20 minutes later.

The Hyatt Regency in downtown has a very impressive first floor and interesting elevators. There are 22 floors in this hotel. Looking up, it really looked like 22 “Motel 6”’s stacked one on top of another. The room itself also reminded me of a “Motel 6” I stayed in before.

We didn’t have much time to kill so we headed to the venue. The only way for guests to park their cars in this hotel is to use the hotel’s valet service. Kami asked for her car and we waited.

We waited for about 20 minutes until we realized that something is not quite right here. Upon checking, it turns out that the receptionist there completely forgot to post our request with the valet. So altogether we waited about half an hour for our car. Fantastic valet experience.

Call me ignorant, but I really don’t understand the value of the valet service. You basically pay extra money to the hotel, plus a tip to the server (as every human activity in this country is tippable. I wrote what I thought about the tipping industry in one of my previous posts, so I’ll spare you of my rants), just so you don’t have to walk to your car, start it and drive it to the parkade’s entrance. In short, using the valet service saves you some healthy cardiovascular activity, costs you money, and at the end—wastes your time.

Kami & Bruce bought tickets through eBay so it took us some time to find the guy she was supposed to pick up the tickets from. We then went ahead to the venue, where I got my ticket at the Will Call window.

Originally, I wasn’t sure if I am going to make it to the Atlanta show, so I sold the ticket I had through eBay, for about half its face value. It was a good ticket—Orchestra, row H somewhere. Once I decided to make it to all shows, I had to buy another ticket from Ticketmaster, which was in row O somewhere to the left. Really remote. Need binoculars to see the band. A little further and I’d be in the woods.

I walked the venue a bit, said hello to John McCusker and exchanged a few words with Guy Fletcher. His face shined when he saw me—that’s what I thought, until I realize that it wasn’t specific towards me but towards the world, as he spent some time on the beach in Miami.

Kami and Bruce got table tickets. We found each other, and since the row appeared to be very sporadically populated, I stayed there.

A few words about the venue. The Chastain Park Amphitheater is located inside the Chastain Memorial Park. The amphitheater itself, when empty, would look very impressive I’m sure.

The first seating section, closest to the stage, has tables in it. You can buy food at the venue, or bring from outside, and have dinner before—or while—enjoying the show. It is a mess though. I would probably curse the moment I was born had I been seated in one of those tables near the stage, as it looked extremely crowded. I’m not a big fan of having a meal while enjoying the music; also, lots of people—when in groups—tend to talk while they eat and drink, which would impact my enjoyment of the show.

The next section is the “orchestra” section. There are three subsections: left, center and right. Most of the orchestra rows have regular seats in them—these rows are very spacious and whoever gets to sit there can fully stretch his legs. Some of the orchestra rows, however, have tables in them. Moving along those rows can be very tricky as they are very crowded.

Even before the main event started (I missed Jesca’s show. Long story I won’t elaborate on here), there was so much food on those filthy tables, and even more food in garbage bags beside each table, that the entire place stunk. It all smelled like a mixture of chicken wings, beer and cheese. Ideal for a picnic with my family back when I was 12… far from ideal for a Mark Knopfler concert.

The show started at 9:00pm, roughly about the same time when the people behind us started talking. They appeared to have been having some sort of a picnic, a family gathering, or any other sort of collective activity. Why on earth would any of them pay $100 each just in order to get into a venue and talk—is beyond me.

I was very tired after a long day of parking my butt in the back seat. Towards the end of the first part of the concert, Kami decided that she must chill out, left the venue and waited for us in the car. It has really been a long day for everyone, especially Kami who did the entire driving.

The sound in the venue was really good, in terms of open‐space venues. Where I was seated, I experienced decent sound. A perfect mixture of great music and chatter from the simpletons behind us.

The band played their 29th concert very well. Richard Bennett, in his blog, mentioned that as the tour comes to an end the band appears to be shining really well. He is right. They allow themselves to improvise more and more. The first few riffs of Sultans of Swing were quite different than usual, the riffs before the last verse in “Song for Sonny Liston” were very interesting and John tried yet another thing during the Marbletown interlude, just when I thought you cannot possibly find any more ways to make it more beautiful than it already is.

Getting into the venue was very time consuming, and getting out of it was going to be a nightmare. Add the constant chatter from the back, pounding our heads all throughout the concert, and you’ll understand why we decided to leave before the concert ends. We figured that it will take us about an hour and a half, maybe two, to battle with traffic if we leave with everybody. Kami was already in the car, so Bruce and I left right at the beginning of the encore. I am sorry I cannot comment on the encore—try to visualize the worst headache and the longest day you ever had, and think how you would cope with two hours of traffic starting 11:00pm, when you have to wake up at 8:00am the next day to catch a plane…

As we were leaving, we noticed that something went wrong while playing Brothers in Arms. Mark started the intro, however it seemed like no other instrument was playing. The intro was stopped, the audience cheered, and within a minute everything was back to normal.

We started looking for the car, and after 5 minutes of searching we realized that we’re in the wrong parking lot. So we got to hear a little bit of So Far Away, which means that Shangri La wasn’t played—yielding the usual set list.

A drive back to the hotel, we thought what we should be doing. We were all very tired but really craved a drink before we call it a day. We went to the bar, and found out that it’s extremely noisy. We decided then to go to the cafe inside the hotel and take some drinks with us upstairs. We decided to go the “cool” way and ended up upstairs with two bottles of coke, chocolate milk and something called “Banana‐Colada” which was supposed to taste like a mixture of Banana and Pina‐colada but tasted like neither.

Obviously we had to find another topic to laugh about, so it was about 30 minutes of constant laughing and joking until we called it a day and went to sleep.

Isaac

6 comments:

Leslie said...

Hi Isaac,

I was at Chastain Park, also in row O, but in the center. I didn't see you in your seat, but I did see you talking to John and Guy. Fortunately people around me wanted to listen to the music. The commotion during Brothers In Arms was when one of Mark's sound techs came onstage to fix some cable. I've seen his photo several times in Guy's diary, usually making silly faces. He marched to the front of the stage, waved to the crowd who cheered loudly, and it looked like he was untangling Mark's guitar cable that was wrapped around an amp. The crowd cheered again when he marched offstage with a flourish.
Sorry you didn't feel like making it to the end of the show. My husband and I had just been to Chastain Park a few weeks ago for Robert Plant/Alison Krauss and we figured out a free (and legal) parking place near the venue that did not require us to sit in any traffic what-so-ever, either before or after the show.

Kami said...

Let's make it clear: Not that anyone on the planet cares (except, of course, me), but I do not live in Kentucky! I'm just hanging out in the guest house here on the property in KY, where I am currently holding a job 8 hours from my home outside of Cleveland, OH.

Isaac: Shine on, you crazy little diamond. You are much loved!

Isaac said...

Hi Kami,

Well, I know your residency status... I prefer to minimize personal details of my friends, for privacy reasons. When in doubt, I shut up.

But now everyone knows! :-)


Isaac

kami said...

Can I be doomed too, then Isaac? Please?

Anonymous said...

isaac,

my name is ryan, and i live in atlanta. i found your blog hoping to find the setlist for the show at chastain. there was a great song, probably around number six... it was after sailing but before SOS. mark was singing with those strings as the band was in a great groove... i want to say the word "mid-town" was said numerously.

anyway, i truly envy your trek to see this tour and i enjoyed reading your blog regarding the show here in atlanta. i wish we could have had better weather for you, but at least the clouds parted late.

safe travels,

ryan

Isaac said...

Hi Ryan,

After "Sailing to Philadelphia" and before "Sultans of Swing" there were "True Love Will Never Fade", "The Fish and the Bird", "Hill Farmer's Blues" and "Romeo and Juliet". I can't recall "mid-town" mentioned in any of these songs, the closest would be "Marbletown" which played after "Sultans of Swing" and "Song for Sonny Liston".

Thanks for following my blog and I'm happy you found it interesting.


Isaac