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

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, AB

Once I came to the conclusion that I must leave Jasper at once if I want to make it to the concert, I started the drive on the Yellowhead Highway east towards Edmonton. The weather was cold and cloudy (about 14 degrees Celsius), but I wanted to drive the Rockies with the roof down so I put a jacket on.

It takes about half an hour drive east until you finally leave the Jasper National Park area. A short drive further takes you to the town of Hinton, which is full of services for travelers crossing the Yellowhead Highway. One of those places that you always drive through, and never stop unless you need a gas refill or are really hungry.

The further away you get from the Rockies, the warmer it gets. The road itself is in an impressive shape, with the posted speed limit of 110 km/h but not even one vehicle drove less than 130. The views after you leave the Rockies are mixed; for the most part, it’s just plain. Incidentally, you get to see some cool rivers and lakes.

Here is a picture showing a sign that I’m sure I’ll follow at some point:

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I drove non‐stop all the way to Edmonton as I knew that time is running out. I didn’t intend to spend much time in Edmonton in the first place—I would take an hour in Jasper over an hour in Edmonton with no hesitation.

About 50km away from Edmonton I started consulting my wonderful new GPS about places to stay. Prices for motels were just around the $80–90 per night, with the ones closer to downtown (and thus to the venue) costing more. I decided to spend the night in a hostel. So these lines are written while I’m sitting in what appears to be a large hall with many sofas in it, intended to be used as a common meeting place or something.

The hostel is the Edmonton branch of the world‐famous “Hostelling International” network. A private room here costs $71, and a semi‐private (two beds, you share with one more person, shared bathroom) is $35. I decided to give it a shot.

I’m supposed to be sharing the room with a guy named Doug. I know two things about Doug. First, I know his first name. Second, I know that I will probably never know anything else about him as I am not a night person.

After unloading my belongings in the room I headed right to the auditorium. Of course, wearing my usual concert shirt, which turned out to be a grave mistake (see below).

The hostel is located about 20 minutes walk from the venue, so I’ve been told. The problem is that 20 minutes walking for someone else is 30 minutes walking for me, as it’s been a while since I worked my cardiovascular system.

I arrived at the venue. Here is a picture from the outside:

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Entering the venue, I was amazed. So far, the only closed‐ceiling (hall) venue I’ve been in that rivals this venue is the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City. What a wonderful venue! Very large, very spacious. Amenities of all sorts, water fountains in each entrance. The moment I stepped into the lobby, I loved it.

I really wanted to see where my seat is located (Pit Centre, row AAA seat 34). I missed Jesca’s first song due to me being out of shape (sorry Jesca), so the usher had us wait for an applause break before letting us in. Turns out that the seat is in a very sweet spot—center section, front row (duh), 3 seats left of the absolute center. It was really funny to see that Phillip, a guy I met along the way (who also attended a few shows) was sitting right next to me. We happened to be sitting one next to another for 2 or 3 shows so far, however today’s going to be the last as he is heading home.

Distance between the front row and the 1.5 meters high stage was a mere one meter. Fantastic.

Jesca’s performance today was exceptionally good and I made it clear to her as soon as I saw her in the lobby after her concert. She recognized me from our previous talk in Seattle, and congratulated me for my face being healed from all those sunburns I had. What a nice lady.

Standing at the left corner, I noticed John McCusker tuning one of his guitars. Upon noticing me he said “hi”, and we had a short chat. What a nice fellow! He told me that he’s glad I made it so far, and I made it clear to him that it’s been a very long drive today and going to be a longer one tomorrow. Then I expressed my jealousy at him for having the privilege to fly from one place to another while poor Isaac has to drive a car through thousands of kilometers of asphalt.

Also during the intermission between Jesca’s and Mark’s shows, I met Greg—a friend of a guy called Rob Thompson whom I met in Seattle. We had a short talk and then Paul Crockford came on stage, as usual promising hell, blood and fury to whomever is caught filming the show.

I then got the opportunity to get up and look at the venue. Guys, we’re talking first‐class here. This venue is amazing, period. Whoever designed it was obviously sober and in a very good mood.

A few minutes later the band showed up. Luckily, the crowd here is a bit more enthusiastic than the crowd in Calgary, and it turns out that the crowd‐handling policy here is not as strict as I expected. OK, so people weren’t as nuts and wild as in other venues (Kelowna, Seattle and Los Angeles being good examples for wild crowd), but they did participate in the show.

I had the mutual “Oh, you’re here again” acknowledgement session with Guy Fletcher. In one of my previous posts, I vowed to only change my concert shirt after Guy changes his first. Apparently he has read it. So he pointed at his shirt today while looking at me and smiled. It took me a few seconds to calculate the meaning behind this unprecedented turn of events, until it hit me—he changed his shirt! Looking at my own shirt, I felt like an idiot. I knew I should have brought an extra shirt, just in case.

Tomorrow, I guess, I will walk into the Saskatoon venue with a new shirt. Thank you, Guy—it’s time to wash that shirt anyway.

Holy Moses, the sound that venue has! Absolutely brilliant. So far, the best sound in a concert hall, followed closely by Abravanel Hall. I actually got to hear each and every instrument from the front row, in just the right volume, even though I wasn’t seated in the absolute middle. Great!

The band appeared to be very relaxed after a day‐off somewhere in the Rockies (probably Banff, as it is normally frequented by artists), and played accordingly, leaving nothing to be desired. It was a fantastic concert with band members, as always, trying new things. The first one to do something I haven’t heard yet in this tour was Glenn Worf, altering the bass sequence in the outro solo of Sultans of Swing. I really didn’t see (or, more exact, hear) it coming but it was very neat! Mark also appeared to be having fun improvising the Sultans of Swing solo, once again to a new direction.

The piano intro for Romeo and Juliet was also a bit different today. Too bad that Matt is seated behind some large pianos, I’d really like to see him play. I also play the piano (however the guitar is my vehicle of choice), maybe I could learn something. The guy plays wonderfully.

As I was seated slightly to the left of the stage, I was closer than usual to John, Glenn and Matt. I was seated directly facing Glenn, which made me very happy as I got to get a clear view of John & Glenn doing the wonderful Marbletown interlude. I play neither the violin, nor the bass guitar nor the cello (as a matter of fact, I don’t know anybody who plays the cello), but looking at these two guys working on Marbletown’s interlude you realize that you’re dealing with pros. They are so concentrated in the music they produce that it seems like nothing in the world could possibly distract them.

Oh, I really liked the Edmonton show. All band members played wonderfully with perfect harmony. They seemed to like the venue and the crowd. At the end, Mark even shook hands with a few people in the front row, myself included. Mark—thank you.

At the end of the show, a few people approached me asking me to send them photos that I took during the show. Instead of emailing the photo to each and every one, I figured it’d make much more sense to post the photos here and send them the URL to my blog. So, here we go. I took about 20 pictures, here are the best ones:

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After the concert, I talked to the receptionist and asked her if she knows of anything that’s open so I can grab a bite. No help, so I had to consult my GPS again and ended up having some dinner at Boston Pizza right downtown.

A long driving day expects me tomorrow. Right, it’s only 536km, but we’re talking about some awesomely boring drive through the prairies. I see gallons of coffee in my future.

Later,

Isaac

P.S. If anybody could explain to me how come Guy always smiles & laughs when he plays the keyboards in “So Far Away”, please do so.

10 comments:

Roderick said...

Hi Isaac,

Can't help with why Guy smiles and laughs during that song, but wanted to drop a line and tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog. Found it thanks to Guy's link. It may be lonely on some of those long drives, but you have all of us riding along with you.

I'm in Santa Barbara, CA - seen about a dozen MK shows, so I'm not in the same league as you. I try to coordinate my international travel with the tours so I've seen him in some great venues - RAH in London, The Point in Dublin, Edinburgh Playhouse, etc.

You mentioned when you started your tour that you were going in search of inspiration. As a musician and frustrated song writer myself, I perked up at that. I knew exactly what you were talking about. If inspiration strikes - I hope you'll share it.

Safe travels,

Rod.

Morten said...

Great coverage through the Rockies Isaac. I'm glad to hear you now can change your shirt :-)

Isaac said...

Hey Morten and Roderick,
Thanks a bunch for your support!

The inspiration is definitely coming...

gregtm said...

Great Looking blog. Saw the show in Edmonton last night. It was tremendous. Any idea where I might find a set list of the concert?

Anonymous said...

The guy laughs and smiles because he has Happy Thoughts.

Didn't you see Peter Pan ?

Anonymous said...

I was sitting behind you and found it really annoying to see you taking photos in the front row, especially after we were told not to. I was there to enjoy the concert and not watch you frame up and take photos. If I had a cane I would have poked that camera out of your hands. Does the band know you are shooting them like this?

Isaac said...

Hi Anonymous,
I hate to be a smart ass, but:

1) I inquire about the photo shooting policies of each venue before the concert. As far as I know, I did not violate any rule.

2) If you were sitting just behind me, then instead of devising plans for wrecking my camera, you could have just as well tap on my shoulder and tell me that it's annoying you. I would have apologized and stopped, maybe even buy you a beer after the concert.

Makes sense, huh.

Anonymous said...

Issac, you've got to be more aware of your surroundings and the impact your actions are having on other audience participants. This type of behavior is exactly why video taping was banned.

Expecting others to point out and correct your selfish behavior isn't the right attitude either. You've violated the rules of common courtesy several times here.

What makes sense is for you and others to act appropriately during performances and don't distract from the show being given on stage.

Isaac said...

Well, first, I'm happy we're not talking about canes and property damage anymore.

Second, being aware of the surroundings is indeed a good idea, yes. However one cannot be expected to satisfy every bit of expectation from the environment, as people vary greatly in what pisses them off. That's why feedback is a good, and necessary, thing. That's how society works.

Contrary to what you said, I was not expecting people to correct my "selfish behavior". What you have done is take something I wrote, twist it around to fit your idea of me as a selfish person, wrap it in a few nice words and throw it in my face. Would work on many people, but sorry, not on me.

Third, who put you in charge of determining what "common courtesy" is? Please, speak for yourself. Tell me that it bothered you, and I will apologize to you. Don't tell me it bothered everybody because it really didn't - as far as I know, as you're the only one complaining.

So here it is again: I apologize to you. Leave me your PayPal address, I'll make it up to you. I am serious.

Whatever I did, was done with my utmost attempt to not distract anybody. I never even raised my tiny camera above my head, it was always in front of my body. How it annoyed you - I have no clue, but I'll take your word for it. Again, I apologize.

Anything else?

Anonymous said...

Isaac,

Two things:

1) Just because two blog entries are authored by anonymous doesn't mean that they were written by the same person.

2) I'm happy to see that you appear to have cut back on the performance photos. Your audience neighbors appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the show without distraction.