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

Friday, July 18, 2008

Molson Amphitheater, Toronto, ON

Home.

What a strange feeling.

I woke up and found myself in my own bed. A feeling that I can’t describe, but after such a long trip, it’s a wonderful feeling. Nobody’s going to knock on your door and tell you that check‐out time has arrived.

Went to pick up my friend Jonathan from work at around 3:00pm and off we went to the venue, the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto. As I was supposed to return my rental car in Toronto, we drove in two cars—I drove the convertible and Jonathan drove my ‘98 Accord.

We left early, figuring that we don’t really want to be stuck in Toronto’s traffic.

Kitchener‐Waterloo, where I live, is just off highway 401—the mother of all Ontario highways, crossing southwestern Ontario from Windsor in the west to Cornwall in the east, where Ontario ends and Quebec starts. Once you’re on the 401, it’s a short 80km drive until you get to the Toronto airport (which is physically located in Mississauga, but never mind that). About half way through, in Milton, we took the exit for some Starbucks.

Weather was nice so we sat outside with our drinks and caught up with what’s been going on since I left. About an hour later we left, only to be stuck in a traffic jam caused by what looked like a truck burnt in a ditch.

Finally we arrived at the Toronto airport. I kissed the wonderful convertible goodbye. It was a very personal, emotional moment.

The first thing I noticed when I entered my ‘98 Accord, after not driving it for 3 weeks, was that it really is a piece of manure. I mean, it’s running fine and all, but, how to say it, there were quite a few advancements in the automotive industry since this car was manufactured 10 years ago. Everything appeared so simple and plain. I looked for the button to electronically adjust my seat (I am taller than Jonathan), only to realize that I’m not in the convertible anymore and thus it’s not electric.

Bah.

Mild traffic on the 427 south, then the Gardiner Expressway on our way to the venue. The Gardiner Expressway is the main traffic route crossing Toronto east to west right on the shore of Lake Ontario. This road can be so busy at times that it drives people insane. There used to be an ad somewhere along the Gardiner Expressway, I believe it was for the XM Satellite Radio, that read: “6 million songs. Just enough for the Gardiner”. However it was rather clear when we drove there.

As you take the ramp from the 427 to Gardiner, you get to see Toronto’s brilliant skyline. If visibility is good, that is. Which it wasn’t. Smog up the yin‐yang. Driving in Toronto in the summer is not a good exercise for your lungs.

We arrived at the venue and just accepted the $20 fine you have to pay in order to get the privilege of parking there. The first thing you enter is actually the Ontario Place, which is some family recreation site with pools, fountains etc. We were hungry, so we reluctantly agreed to get hosed for $7 for a chicken souvlaki wrap.

Then we entered the venue.

That’s my fourth time in this venue. The first time was 3 years ago, watching Mark Knopfler’s “Shangri La” show. Then I watched him and Emmylou Harris in 2006 (fourth row), and then again about 6 weeks ago—Eric Clapton concert, where I was seated somewhere in the lawn.

It is a well‐known fact that food / beverage vendors in venues do whatever is in their powers to squeeze each and every cent from poor customers. The Molson Amphitheater, I believe, has perfected this ill‐mannered business practice.

There’s no water fountain anywhere in the venue (the closest one is in Ontario Place—but if you go there, you can’t go back to the amphitheater)—some ushers seemed to think that there is, but none of them was able to tell me where on earth is it. Thirsty? Pay $4 for a 500mL bottle of water. Tap water? Sorry, no. And I thought that there’s some international law out there mandating free access to running water for everyone in need.

We felt like having a beer so we went to the concessions.

$9 for a can of beer.

For a Molson Canadian beer, which is not that great anyway. For an import it’s $9.75.

Ear plugs? Most venues give those for free. The Molson? $2.

This ticked me off to an incomprehensible end, and initiated some thoughts about what constitutes being a responsible consumer in this country, supply vs. demand, and other finance‐related topics, but I’ll leave it to a later post.

During the intermission between Jesca’s performance and Mark’s, I went to do some shopping. Bought Guy Fletcher’s “Inamorata” and Jesca Hoop’s “Kismet”, as well as a T‐shirt and, of course, the program. I was waiting with the purchases till I get to Toronto, as I didn’t want to carry too much stuff with me.

The show started at 9:00pm, the band performed the usual set list. Very shortly into the opening song I realized that I must put on some earplugs otherwise I’m going to become deaf. The sound was good, but substantially louder than any other venue so far. Realizing that I forgot my set of earplugs at home, I had to, for the first time in this tour, temporarily leave my seat and go to the “Guest Services” booth to acquire myself a set of earplugs which did the job wonderfully.

Mark apparently spotted some people filming during the show. It appeared to have pissed him off, especially during Why Aye Man when he had to skip some solo time to point at some punk filming.

IMG_1868

My friend, Jonathan, appeared to be having a lot of fun. Now I should say that, the camera I use during the tour is actually his (mine is too big and, quite frankly, sucks). Since he attended the show, he took possession of the camera and took pictures of the venue, as well as maybe a million pictures of the band playing. As he just moved to Canada from Israel about a year ago, he never had the chance to see Mark Knopfler live even though he really wanted to. Mark’s first (and only) time in Israel was during the Brothers in Arms tour back in 1985 (or 1986), and the one show they played there is considered by many to be the best ever rock concert to be played on Israeli soil, to this date. Kind of strange that Mark doesn’t perform there anymore—many, many thousands of people would be happy to watch him play there.

There’s some footage out there in YouTube showing Mark riding a donkey through the narrow streets of eastern Jerusalem. Google it up. It’s really funny.

The band gave an excellent performance and rocked the Amphitheater. The audience cheered to no end—Torontonians love it when Mark and the band are in town. This was my third time attending a Mark Knopfler concert in Toronto—in all three, the audience was extremely supportive and cheered very heartily.

There were a few professional cameramen there filming the show with some decent video equipment—maybe we’re looking at a DVD release?

Halfway through the concert I was asking Jonathan how he’s doing, to which he responded that he’s doing great but the loud sound is killing him. Having seen the show 19 times already, I volunteered to once again leave my post (during the Song for Sonny Liston) and got him a set of earplugs as well.

Then Telegraph Road was playing and the audience were blown away—man, what a solo. Flawless, beautiful.

After the show was over, I asked Jonathan what he thought about the show. He said it was amazing. Now I should note here that, for Jonathan to say “amazing” about something, is pretty much like having a Polish mother admit she’s having a wonderful life. Very, very hard to do.

Jonathan (left) and myself (there’s a Mark in the middle):

IMG_1913

Drove back home to Waterloo after the show, realizing we’re very hungry so we stopped for a short meal in Boston Pizza, in Kitchener. We arrived there 10 minutes before they shut the kitchen down. By the time we finished eating, I was so tired that I have no clue how I managed to drive home.

Today there’s a show in Ottawa. I intend to leave early, as there may be some Friday traffic crossing Toronto.

Later,
Isaac

5 comments:

Asif Rahman said...

Dude, I ended up watching a Persian sitar concert at Harbour Front. Bah humbug!

Isaac said...

Hi Asif,
Yeah, you have interesting friends. I would lose them if I were you. :-)

You missed a great concert. Ask Jonathan.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
My husband and I were at the Toronto show and was easily one of the best we've ever seen. His music is really wonderful. Could you post the set list from that show? Telegraph Road was the highlight but for us we enjoyed Song for Sonny Liston the most. We travelled from Kingston and you're right about WoodenHeads.
Drive Safely!!

Country Gardener said...

Hi Isaac: Interesting that you mention earplugs. We had great seats near the front, and we had our earplugs in, but as far as I could see nobody around us was wearing any. Concert sound was amazing. At the end, after the band had just got off but the crowd was still cheering, I took my earplugs out, and it was astonishing how loud the crowd was. I don't understand how people can do these concerts without earplugs, esp at the front. Seems crazy to me.

Isaac said...

Hi Anonymous,

I prefer to not post the set-list in the blog as it may ruin it for people who haven't seen the show yet. Feel free to drop me an e-mail and I'll e-mail you back with the set-list.

I wish WoodenHeads delivered to Waterloo... some 400km away.