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.



Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary, AB

I’m writing this on Sunday morning, July 6th.

Wow, yesterday was a very long day.

I woke up in Kelowna at about 10:00am. That was, however, the second time I woke up that night. The first time was on 3:00am, when some hormonally‐challenged idiot decided that it would be a great idea to pull a fire alarm switch and flee the hostel. Fire alarm kicked in and the entire place was a riot. I was so tired that it took me 5 minutes to dress up, pack my valuables in a small backpack and walk apathetically towards the exit. Save for maybe 2 or 3 people, pretty much all of them appeared to be either drunk, or high, or both. Fire department took a few minutes to arrive and the hostel’s operator got pissed off to an incomprehensible extent when he found out that it was all a hoax. I then returned, apathetically again, to my private, well‐equipped room (see earlier post) and within minutes was dreaming again.

Morning started very easy. I knew that a long drive (600km) awaits me but it’s all familiar roads and I love British Columbia’s roads anyway. I took things really easy, starting with coffee & scone in Blenz, where I sat down and posted a blog entry with some philosophical ponderings.

Then began the drive to Calgary.

But before the drive to Calgary, there should be a drive out of Kelowna. This seemingly simple endeavour turned out to be a nightmare, as, for some reason, there was a traffic jam as long as eternity. Took me 45 minutes to cross 4 lights on highway 97, out of Kelowna towards Vernon.

What a lovely drive. Lovely weather. Convertible’s top is tucked in, the sun is shining and I’m having a hell of a drive.

I was going to spend the night in Calgary with the family of a good friend of mine, Ash Christopher. Ash moved from Calgary to Waterloo more than a year ago, we got the chance to work together and became good friends. It turned out that his parents are also attending the Mark Knopfler show in Calgary, and they agreed that I spend the night with them.

If you thought that the way from Vancouver to Kelowna is beautiful, perhaps you should see the roads leading from Kelowna to Calgary. I have driven that way before, but this time, driving a convertible, it was a whole different experience. The drive starts with Okanagan Lake on your right. Huge lake, stunning. There’s some urban legend talking about a monster (dubbed "Ogopogo") that calls Okanagan Lake home, and a prize of $1,000,000 is still waiting for whoever proves that it exists. I didn’t see any monster. But I’ve seen some cool scenery. Here’s one shot:


The road continues through the interior of British Columbia, through many small towns, with amazing scenery. The mountains here are not the Rocky Mountains (yet), but still rather impressive. Snow peaks abound, as this is just the beginning of the summer and the ice only started to thaw.

I was doing some calculations as to where I am and where am I supposed to be going (to remind you, I have no GPS), and figured that, by the time I get to Calgary, I’m going to have slightly more than hour to enjoy myself. Of course, that warranted some slower driving, enjoying the view.

I was having the time of my life, until I saw a sign.

It was a simple sign. Large black letters on white background. Nothing fancy. It said something along the line of:

"Time zone change. Please move your watch one hour forward"

It was one of those moments when you really want to scream "Oh Sh*t!" so the entire world can hear you, only in my case I actually shouted it. Luckily there was nobody around. My plan to eat in a nice restaurant along the way has changed to eating a fast, ugly grilled chicken sandwich in A&W (for all non‐Canadians here, A&W is a Canadian fast food chain that has a really good root beer, and that’s pretty much all they’re good at). I drove and I drove and the road doesn’t stop!

Entering Revelstoke National Park… driving… can’t enjoy the scenery… Glacier National Park… still driving, no time to look at scenery… Yoho National Park (one of my favourites!)… holy crap, time is closing in!

By the time I got to Calgary, it was 7:00pm already, about 30 minutes before the show starts. Now it’s time to call for some directions. I called Ash’s father and ask for directions. He provided me with accurate directions, however I failed to follow and, before I knew it, I was in entirely the opposite side of the city.

Great, I thought. Maybe a GPS would have been a good idea after all. Unpacking my laptop, looking at my mapping software… oh, not that bad. Only have to hop on the highway, a few exits and I’m there.

What I didn’t know (correction: did know, but forgot) was that Calgary has some unique way of naming streets. Most numbered streets have four flavours: NE, NW, SE, SW (North East, North West, South East, South West). I should have started my own dictionary by the time I cursed the 1,000th curse at whoever came up with this idea.

Eventually I found the location. Now go find some parking. Ah, here’s one. Sign says $5, machine wants $10. Failing to convince the machine that the sign says $5, I had to pay $10 for parking in an area that looked very shady. Some homeless people were hanging out there, one of them carrying a shopping cart completely, but completely filled with empty cans and bottles. So I took my laptop with me. The guy with the cart turned out to be a hell of a guy as he provided me with accurate instructions how to get to the venue.

Because of all of this, I missed Jesca Hoop’s performance (sorry Jesca! You know it wasn’t intentional!), but arrived at the venue at the same instant she went off stage.

The venue’s lobby seems nice, but man is it small & crowded. I quickly went into the concert hall and there I met Ash’s parents. Really, really nice people. They were seated in first row left, I was seated in first row center.

Some guy appeared to be sitting in my seat. At first I thought I’m misreading my ticket. Then he looks at me and asks: "Is this your seat?"

"Apparently yes", I replied.

He didn’t try very hard to hide the expression of resentment on his face. Leaving the front row, he looked at me and with an extremely hateful voice said: "Enjoy the show".

The Jack Singer Concert Hall is the main venue in the EPCOR centre for the performing arts in Calgary. It is very small though. What struck me about this venue was the almost zero distance between the front row and the stage—maybe half a meter, to a stretch.

So I’m seated at the front row (row AA, seat 5—two seats left of the middle) waiting for the show to begin.

And it began.

Quickly after the show started, I noticed that something is missing but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It took me a minute or two to figure out that what was missing was "fresh air". It turns out that whoever designed this concert hall didn’t really take ventilation into account. Either that, or something in the ventilation system was FUBAR’d. It was really hot in there. Hot & humid. Bah.

The show itself was very good. The lighting was OK (poor Mark; had to suffer the wrath of the spotlight for the entire show, combined with the poor air ventilation… that must have felt wrong in so many levels), and the sound in the entire venue was great.

Despite the heat, the band gave a really good show. The usual set list minus "Shangri La" in the encore.

Much more than should be written about the band, should be written about the crowd. Sitting in the front row, looking back from time to time, I noticed that the crowd is very, very restrained. People hardly got up from their chairs, and even when they did, they did it for a very short period of time. Even when all‐time hits played (such as Sultans of Swing), hardly anybody got up. I did a few times, only to get some nasty looks from my neighbours. The band also seemed to be baffled by this. In all the shows I attended so far, the crowds have been rather responsive (except for Portland, but that’s a different story). Whenever Sultans of Swing started to play, people used to cheer very loudly and the entire venue used to be on their feet at the end of the show. At the Jack Singer Hall, though, it was very different. People seemed to have been glued to their chairs.

I wasn’t impressed at all. I decided that I have to dig into this and find out why.

During the concerts, I sometimes close my eyes and enter some sort of a trance, following the music with what could have been called "dancing" had it not offended real dancers. This time I got some really weird looks from people around me.


The band didn’t let the crowd’s apathy ruin the evening. They played very well, with Mark introducing some further improvisations in Sultans of Swing and Brothers in Arms, different than anything I have heard so far but it was great. In Telegraph Road, I could swear that the Pensa’s 3rd string (the G) was off by maybe 1/8 of a tone, however Mark, being Mark, used so many bends and vibratos that it was really hard to notice it.

Either that string was off, or I’m starting to lose my hearing.

The concert was over and the band gave thanks to the crowd. From the front row it was clearly shown that the heat really annoyed them. They were all sweating as if they were running a marathon.

Ash’s parents (Rob and Jennifer) and myself left the venue together. We went to their car, and they drove me to my car. So I don’t get lost again, Rob gave me his GPS, punched in the home address, instructed me to follow their car and gave me the following instruction:

"In case of discrepancy between what the GPS tells you to do and what we do, follow us. The GPS is just so you don’t get lost if you lose us".

Sensible. However it was really cool to find out that Rob’s idea of how to get to his house was very different than what the GPS thought the way should be. Whatever the GPS instructed me to do—I had to violate so I can follow Rob’s car, sometimes having to do exactly the opposite of what the GPS told me to. That caused the GPS go into an endless "Recalculating" loop, using a female voice that sounds as if she’s going to knock your head off any second now.

At some point, probably because all of the "recalculating" announcements, the battery died. That’s exactly what I need right now. I was really hoping I don’t lose sight of my leader. Luckily, we have just made our final turn into their street.

Rob’s terms for allowing to host me for the night included me agreeing to play some guitar with him. It turns out that he’s quite the musician. He keeps underestimating himself though. He has at least two guitars (there’s probably more of them that I haven’t seen yet), one of them is a Fender Stratocaster, the other one is a Gibson Les Paul Classic with a 1960s neck. He also boasts some cool collection of effects, pedals etc., in sharp contrast to my own personal collection of effects—exactly two of them (two volume pedals—one linear and one logarithmic).

We took the guitars, two amps and a few effects to the basement and started jamming. Was really cool. I never had the chance to play with anybody. Ever. Yes, really. Whenever I played before, I played alone. I should seek some jam session partners.

Went to sleep at around 2:00am after a very satisfying day.

Today (July 6th) I’m getting to drive the Canadian Rockies… will touch base again soon.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to see Isaac at 3:00 in the morning. A false alarm. Hilarious ... Isaac, I think you're mistaken, everybody was running from you once they spotted you in your undies.