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 04, 2008

Prospera Place, Kelowna, BC

So I woke up this morning at 8:30am, after catching some 6 hours of much needed sleep. I was awake for approximately 24 hours straight before going to sleep. Surprisingly enough, I felt quite alert.

It is always hard for me to wake up knowing that I have to leave Vancouver. This morning was no different. I replied to a few emails and some blog comments (thank you, guys, for taking the time to read my blog), then went on to fix the sofa bed on which I spent the night and tuck my entire earthly belongings into the backpacks.

One of the emails was from a guy named Morten, who appreciated my blog and invited me to spend the night in his house in Vernon, which is about 50km away from Kelowna on the way to Calgary, which would be perfect for me. The problem was that the location I reserved a room in (knowing in advance that the weekend is going to be very busy in Kelowna) had a 48 hours (!!) cancellation policy. I called them and begged, to no avail. I ended up meeting Morten in the venue, as well as his wife and a few friends, more on that later.

We (Joyti and myself) left at about 11:00am for breakfast. When I’m in British Columbia, I make it a habit to visit White Spot at least once a day, as I find the food there phenomenal. Joyti, knowing Vancouver as the back of her hand, drove us to what she described “the best White Spot in town”, which is located on Marine Drive, a few minutes drive east of Boundary Road (which makes it Burnaby, I believe). Joyti was absolutely right—this was one amazing facility, and the food was so good looking and tasting that I’m really sorry I didn’t take a picture. I had some dietary salad (which was very good, actually), and we left to the airport, from where I was going to rent the car.

It was very hard bidding Joyti farewell. Joyti and I go a few years back, but never had the opportunity to actually spend some time alone together (you know, myself being about 5,000km away). I realized how thankful I should be for having Joyti a part of my life. Joyti, if you’re reading this (and I know you do!)—it was an absolute pleasure! You made my stay in Vancouver fantastic, and I enjoyed our talks very much. Can’t wait to see you again!

I already felt bummed to no visible end for having to leave Vancouver so soon. The knowledge that I have to now start driving a compact car all the way to Toronto, plus an extra 2,000km or so in the USA, hasn’t done much to lift my spirit. I knew what I had to do in order to make me feel good again. I just knew it. And as everything in this trip, I let nothing (let alone price) hold me back; so I left the Vancouver airport with an almost‐brand‐new Chrysler Sebring, the convertible version of course.

That was my first time driving in beautiful British Columbia in a convertible. My sweet Moses, the difference that it makes!

I didn’t have much time to spend on the way so I skipped my usual stops in Chilliwack and Bridal Falls, two amazing places that I always visit when I’m driving east of Vancouver on the Trans‐Canada Highway. Then I got to the town of Hope (yes, it’s an actual town named “Hope”. One of the Rambo movies had some shots done there), which is a lovely, very underrated little town completely surrounded by magnificent, mist‐covered mountains. Every time I’m in the area, I take the time to go to visit the Fraser River, sit there for about an hour—sometimes playing my guitar—before moving on. But today, time being my enemy, I had to restrict my visit to only accommodate a quick bite.

And when in British Columbia, a quick bite means only one thing: White Spot’s Triple‐O burger. I believe I wrote about it in one of my earlier posts. I am an absolute sucker for White Spot’s Triple‐O burger. The burger itself is pretty much the same as everywhere, however the difference lies in the “Triple‐O sauce”, which gives the burger its name. I believe the ingredients of that sauce are kept secret, but one thing I can tell you for sure—it is not dietary at all… but it is very, very tasty.

It took me less time to devour the burger, the side salad and the drink than to wait for the order to arrive. I was very hungry, and I knew that I can’t make any stops anymore if I want to make it to the show.

The town of Hope appears to be covered by nasty black clouds approximately %99 of the year. Today was no different, and it was a bit cold as well, but not cold enough to make me reinstate the roof. I drove for about an hour, and then the sun came.

Oh, words cannot express how beautiful the way is. Even the toll freeway is beautiful. You find yourself cruising 130–140 km/h in a perfectly shaped road, simply because the speed limit of 110 km/h doesn’t make any sense at all. And the road goes through mountains, rivers, lakes… you name it. It is for this reason that driving hundreds of kilometers in British Columbia feels much quicker than driving hundreds of kilometers anywhere else. It is simply gorgeous.

I should note here that the roads of British Columbia are no strange to me. I used to live in Vancouver for four months during 2005, and I frequent the area at least twice annually for hiking & camping. But these roads are never boring.

I arrived at Kelowna at about 6:30pm and checked in. The location I stay in is called “Same Sun”. “Same Sun” is a chain of backpackers’ hostels which operates many successful locations in Canada. I got a private room with a semi‐private bathroom (shared between two rooms).

I didn’t have much time to spend in the hostel, so I changed quickly (to my usual concert attire; I insist not to change my shirt unless Guy Fletcher changes his first. Lets see who caves first) and stormed out of the hostel, only to realize that I have not the faintest clue where I’m heading. I have never been to Prospera Place before, and my knowledge of Kelowna is really limited to the camping areas as well as a few White Spot locations. Shuffled back to the hostel and got some quasi‐useful advice from the receptionist, who seemed to know the general direction but appeared to lack the distinction between driving time to walking time. So a “2 minutes walk” (according to him) ended up actually being a 20 minutes walk, during which I had to ask a cute barista in “Blenz” for directions a bit more accurate than “go there” (“Blenz” is a coffee shop chain that exists in three areas: British Columbia, Japan and United Arab Emirates. If you find this baffling, senseless and outright bizarre, it’s because it really is. At least they have some decent espresso).

Eventually I arrived at Prospera Place, which turned out to be a hockey arena. The venue looks nice from the outside, and well organized in the inside (referring to the facilities, not the arena itself), but at the inside—a mere hockey arena that is really not that special. I had a very good seat (floor, row 1, seat 25—right in the middle), however, similarly to the show in Berkeley, there was a fence between the front row to the 7 feet tall stage—again, makes little sense but hey, there may be factors I am not aware of. Overall, the distance between first‐row seaters and the stage was about 2 meters.

Jesca Hoop gave a good show. The sound in her show was a bit odd, at least from the front row—something in the speakers must have been a bit off. Her lovely voice covered for that. It appears that Jesca gains more and more confidence as the tour goes, and communicates better and more freely with the crowd. I wrote it as a reply to one of the blog comments before, and I’d like to repeat here: Indeed, Jesca’s music is entirely different than Mark’s, and whoever is going to the show expecting an opening act that resembles Mark’s style is bound to be disappointed. However, music, as all arts, is a matter of taste. I just happen to like it; however, more than I like her music, I adore her for adopting her own style, going on stage as an opening act for a worldwide huge artist, knowing how demanding the crowd’s expectations are, and simply doing a great job doing what she wants to.

Went for a quick drink during the intermission between the two shows and as soon as I got back I heard my name being called. Morten was calling me, and even though he was sitting within a meter from me, it took me some good 15 seconds to locate the source of the voice calling my name. Morten was there with his wife and a few friends, who I was very happy to meet. Morten is a photographer who takes some mean shots, some of which were incorporated into Guy’s “Shangri La” tour diary (the show in Vancouver, which was the last show on that tour). We talked for about 10 minutes—I love meeting great people along the way, and that bunch was a really nice one—and then returned to my seat.

Paul Crockford shortly arrived at the stage, promising hell & fury to people who intend to tape the show. Apparently that didn’t help much as I noticed Mark later pointing at some guy on the front row.

Then the band came and were accepted very well by the crowd. It turned out to be Mark’s first appearance ever in Kelowna, which was not surprising in the slightest as Kelowna is a resort, tiny little town that is not known for its awesome venues.

Guy wore the same shirt as always. Mark insists that Guy’s showing up with a clean shirt, but I simply can’t understand how. Unless he owns multiple copies of the same shirt. Washing that shirt after each show would most likely result in the shirt being transmuted to dust already as it appears to be made of a rather thin fabric.

OK, away from Guy’s wardrobe.

The show was great. Admittedly, being the venue itself a rather boring one, I didn’t expect for much; however the sound was excellent, and so was the lighting. We enjoyed a really cool show, with the usual set list minus the Song for Sonny Liston.

The guys seemed to enjoy themselves, continuing the trend of increased level of improvisation which happened to work very well tonight.

During the performance of “The Fish and the Bird”, coming the second verse, I was expecting some sound but was surprised to not receive it. The sound I was expecting was Richard’s brilliantly tremolo’d chord on the Strat introducing the second verse. It turned out that something went completely awfully wrong with either the guitar or the amp (or any of the million components in between. Richard’s floor gear is very impressive). Attempts by Richard and the stage workers to fix the problem have failed, so the song went on without Richard’s guitar work. The song still sounded very good, however, being in all shows so far, I got a clear demonstration of how fulfilling and brilliant Richard’s guitar tone is. I really, really missed that chord and the chords that were supposed to follow.

It goes without saying that whatever the problem was, it went away once the next song started playing.

Short time after the concert has started, two fellows sitting right behind me, equipped with some considerable amount of beer, started talking and just forgot to stop. That pissed me off to no apparent end. Also, some people sitting right beside me started talking during the performance of Marbletown, and simply refused to stop, even through my much awaited part—the amazing interlude. I would need a really thick English thesaurus to find all the words that I wanted to say to them. I wasn’t impressed at all.

Concert ended 10:30pm after the usual four encores. I bid Morten, his wife & friends goodbye and started walking back to the hostel.

Kelowna’s night life appears to be great. Too bad I’m alone in here.

That’s it for tonight. A long drive awaits me tomorrow to Calgary, but hey, I’m crossing Banff tomorrow, the amazing Canadian Rockies are going to surround me… I have no complaints.

Talk later,

--
Isaac

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Isaac,

Thank you for publishing your great blog! As an Israeli myself, it makes me happy to see such devotion and enthusiasm from a fellow Israeli MK fan. You surely remember how huge Dire Straits used to be here, and their songs are still played on the radio, but this is not really the case for MK's solo albums (although I do hear some of the solo songs on 88FM occasionally). Nevertheless, there is still a huge crowd here just waiting for the great man to show up, 23 years after the first and currently last visit. If and when he does I'm sure he'll be able to pack any venue in Israel time and time again.

I was lucky to catch MK's show in Munich this year while I was there in a business trip and it was awesome - Standing just 3 meters from your lifetime musical hero is really a great experience. Also, he plays really big venues in Europe compared to north america (Munich was +10000 and sold out).

Anyway, keep having a great time in the rest of your tour and in writing your blog, I'm sure I'll keep reading it, and thanks again

Ori, Tel-Aviv

Isaac said...

Shalom Ori,
Wow, great to see an Israeli here! :-)

Unfortunately, the last time Dire Straits were in Israel (1985), I was 7 years old. I recall however people and critics claiming that the Dire Straits performance in Israel was the best rock concert to ever take place on Israeli soil, to this date.

MK's solo career is very different from his Dire Straits career in one major aspect: Mark is a much more restrained, adult, shy artist now. He's far from the spotlight, and so are his albums. In America (USA / Canada) as well as in Israel, what counts is what you see under the spotlight, which doesn't always align with "good music". That's why you rarely hear MK's solo songs on the radio.

Not surprised that you can hear those songs on 88FM. Probably the last sane radio station left in Israel.

Thanks again for commenting and I'm happy that you're enjoying the blog! Take good care of yourself there...


Isaac