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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mann Center, Philadelphia, PA

Before heading to the venue, Jeroen and I decided to try a Philly Cheese Steak. It appears that everybody’s talking about the “Philly Cheese Steak” and that it’s a must‐eat when in Philadelphia. So we ended up having one in a market next to the hotel.

I swear to God, I have no idea what the fuss is all about. It’s simply thin slices of steak, on a bun, with some cheese on it—American cheese, or Provolone, or whatever. It is not that tasty at all. I didn’t like. Will probably never try again.

The special bus that takes you from downtown (picks you up from multiple locations, dropping you off at the venue) was on time and we got to the venue earlier than expected. We had about an hour to kill before Jesca’s performance, so we started by checking our seats out.

I was seated at pit center, row DD, seat 108—4th row, right at the center. Not bad at all. Jeroen was sitting at pit right, row AA all the way to the right.

We then took a walk around the venue. Very nice venue, indeed—one of the best open‐door venue I’ve seen so far. The pictures I took of the venue itself came out blurry, but here is a picture of Philadelphia’s skyline, taken from within the venue.

IMG_1987

I continued walking, and as I was climbing the stairs I noticed a couple going the opposite direction. Suddenly, the woman calls my name.

– “Isaac?”

– “Yes…?”

– “Hi, I am Patty. I was reading your blog.”

It’s not the first time it happened to me during this trip. It appears that more and more people are reading and following this blog, which makes me happy as it implies that I’m doing a good job. It’s not hard to find a picture of me here, so I guess that’s how I get recognized.

We continued talking for a few minutes. Patty and John turned to be a very nice couple, living in Walnut Bottom, PA (yes, I was also baffled when I heard the name of the place). Very laid‐back people, from a small community—ah, I miss home. We shared a few stories, had a couple of laughs… was great talking with them.

Before Jesca’s show, Jeroen asked one of the people in charge of keeping the herds of people from the stage if he could take a picture of us both, which he denied. I wasn’t surprised. I turned to that person and asked him if it’s because his job mandates that he never turns his back at the crowd. He confirmed, saying that his job definition is to do exactly what he is doing at the moment.

Now I’m sorry to deviate a little bit from the description of the event. I have absolutely nothing, nothing against that person. Really. It is his choice how to fulfil his job.

I am thinking about that person. From what he said, and the tone in which he said it, I could easily conclude that he spoke out of fear. Fear of losing his job due to taking any sort of risk or of deviating even one millimetre from the one single functionality which he was commissioned to fulfil.

This fear is not born; it is acquired. So yes, this person really does his job. But lets look at the general case—forget, for a second, about that venue worker: if all of us do exactly what we’re told to do, in the way we’re told to do it, and never deviate from the single functionality we’re supposed to fulfil…

Then where are we headed?

What baffles me is that people working in a society that promotes innovation and progress educates and trains its workers—and it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about highly‐paid executives or low‐paid stage security guards—to do exactly the opposite.

It’s time that we all realize that we would have never got to where we are now if it wasn’t for daring, for innovation, and for not fearing being different and dynamic.

Most people claim that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

My claim during 30 years of living is that if it ain’t broken, make it work better and more efficiently.

OK, back to the concert.

Jesca went on stage at 8:00pm to play her usual set, which I liked and it seems like I wasn’t the only one. She gave a very good performance.

During the intermission I took a few more pictures showing the venue filling up with people.

IMG_1994IMG_1995

I started the show, as mentioned above, sitting in row DD seat 108. It turned out that the seat right in front of me—row CC—was empty. I asked the nice woman sitting next to it whether it’s available or not, she said that as far as she knows nobody’s sitting there. I waited to the applause break and went to Jeroen, gave him my ticket because he previously mentioned that he prefers being in the center; I then went one row forward and now I’m in row CC, right at the center.

Right in front of me, row BB, there was Nancy again and her friend (have I already mentioned how bad I am with names?). It turned out that this is the last concert Nancy’s going to attend in this tour. How sad.

The best seats in the house—row AA, dead center—were empty for most of the time. There were two guys who took these seats at the beginning of the show, and were actually sitting on them maybe %20 of the time, to a stretch. At the rest of the time, they were out drinking beer.

My guess is that at least one of those bozos is a scalper, who simply couldn’t sell those tickets for the price he demanded so he figured, hey, what the hell, lets see portions of the show.

The show itself was an absolute blast. I can definitely state that the Philadelphia show ranks very high up there, alongside with the L.A, Seattle, Edmonton and Ottawa shows. It was a blast in every way possible.

The sound was terrific. Even Jeroen, sitting at the very right of the front row, claimed that the sound was better than most of the shows he attended in Europe.

The crowd was great and extremely cheery. People got up virtually after (and sometimes during) each and every song, with some enthusiastic cheers during “Sailing to Philadelphia”. The crowd went completely bananas during Telegraph Road.

During the introduction of the band members, Mark spotted two people filming the show and asked them to turn it off.

The performances were nothing short of outstanding:

Hill Farmer’s Blues was amazing.

The Marbletown interlude was a bit different than before with John simply kicking serious butt. What a powerful performance!

Brothers in Arms—very touching solo, almost as touching as the original from the CD.

The climax—another amazing performance of Telegraph Road. It was so amazing, that I almost strained my neck due to moving it in random directions, getting completely addicted to the music. And I wasn’t the only one. The audience was amazed. So amazed that we all got up about a minute before the Telegraph Road performance ended and just cheered to no end. It was that awesome.

Shangri La has been resurrected and was played in the encore.

This show was so fantastic with every single band member demonstrating outstanding musicianship.

Right after So Far Away, when it was time for the last encore, the two bozos capturing the best seats have departed the venue. Nancy, her friend and myself found ourselves standing in the front row, at the center, during the performance of the last encore. Richard appeared surprised, as if he couldn’t fathom how come I made it from the 4th row to the front.

After the performance, some people went towards the stage in order to shake Mark’s hand. I decided not to, even though Mark appeared to not mind. He still carried his Fender in his hand, and the cord was wrapped around one of the speakers in a way that would shortly result in the guitar being dropped, however Guy realized this early enough and grabbed the guitar from Mark’s hands.

We left the venue hungry for more. Walking out of the venue, Nancy and her friend suggested that they drive us to our hotel instead of us having to worry about finding that bus back home which takes about an hour. It was so nice of them. I mentioned before that one of the main reasons for this trip being such a great experience for me is the great people I meet along the way. Thank you both for the ride!

As I have to leave early tomorrow, back to Newark to return the car and take the flight to Charlotte, I decided to stay in the hotel room, write my blog and pack my stuff instead of going out for a drink. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I’m sad for parting ways with Jeroen, but I’ll see him again in Miami Beach for the last concert.

I can’t believe that there are only four shows left.

In a way, I really don’t want this to end.

--
Isaac

6 comments:

Mike Roberts said...

A Philly cheesesteak is not a Philly cheesesteak. There are only certain acceptable places to get the real deal. At the risk of a Philadelphia tribal war: my recommendation is Jim's Steaks on South Street.

Great show at the Mann. Mark and the boys played some great versions of his solo work... MUCH better than what we got on CD.

Was it just me or was Jesca's sound blown out?

Julie said...

Great entry!

Were those chills tickling my spine?

Why yes, I think they were!

Was I there with you?

Well, almost. It felt like it.

Thanks for cyber-Sailing me to Philadelphia.

BTW, do you have any stats on how many hits your blog is getting, or the number of unique visitors? It would be interesting to know. I find myself checking your blog daily, along with the MK, GF, and RB, websites.

Best,

Julie

Isaac said...

Hi Mike,
Will try Tim's Steaks next time I'm in town. I liked Philadelphia and I can see myself visiting again soon.

Not sure what you mean about Jesca's sound though. I think that her sound was OK, not much different than previous shows.


Isaac

Isaac said...

Hi Julie,
Thanks for the compliment. :-)

I have no way of knowing how many hits I'm getting. Well, I could add some custom component to my blog (remember what I do for a living...) so it will result in a counter being incremented somewhere, but really don't have the time for it, unfortunately.

Keep checking the blog out... well, it has a few more days to live, until the tour is over. :-\


Isaac

Nancy said...

Isaac, let me know when you return to Philadelphia and I'll make sure you have a real Philly cheesesteak! :)

It was great to see you again, enjoy the rest of the tour.

Anonymous said...

Isaac,

I attended the Philly show at the Mann as well. As you stated, the Mann is a great place to see a live show, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it was Saturday night.

I live in upstate NY, but my youngest sister and her family live in South Jersey, so my wife and I will occassionally arrange a visit to her to coincide w/ a concert at the Mann.

The last time I saw Mark was at Madison Sq Garden in 1991 or 1992 on the Dire Straits tour in support of the "On Every Street", so I had a lot of catching up to do.

Regardign the show and as you mentioned, "Telegraph Road" was a real highlight.

But I know I, and I think the crowd as well, really enjoyed the one-two punch of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Sultans of Swing", just as much.

I also have to say a real highlight for me (and the crowd, especially considering the name of the album and the name of one of the songs in the mini-set from the "Sailing to Philadelphia" Album) was "What It Is" and "Sailing to Philadelphia".

Also, my sister really appreciated "True Love Will Never Fade".

Lastly, while it may be a cliche, my brother-in-law was kind enough to drive us across town after the show for a Cheese Steak "wit" (with onions) at Pat's. It was great!

Joe G.