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.



Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sid Buckwold Theatre, Saskatoon, SK

The drive from Edmonton to Saskatoon was, in one word, long. In three words, “long and boring”.

Guys, we’re talking about a highway (again, that same old Yellowhead Highway, renamed “Yellowhead Trail” once it gets to Edmonton) that simply doesn’t want to end.

Speed limit there is the good old 110 km/h whereas one can easily drive 150 km/h and still not feel challenged enough.

A few kilometers into Saskatchewan, the road becomes more boring than ever. Yes, there is green on the sides but that’s pretty much it. Also, the land becomes more and more flat. I bet that there’s not one reader here that hasn’t heard the joke about owning a dog in Saskatchewan—even if your dog decides to part ways with you and leave the house, you can still see him in the horizon three days after he left.

Some people tell a variant of that joke, with the subject being a wife. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

Absolutely flat. Absolute plane. Not even a hill, let alone a mountain. Very few tiny towns along the way.

Anyway. Approaching Saskatoon, I began looking for a place to stay. As always, the first thing I was looking at was Motel 6 as it has the reputation of having an excellent price/value ratio. Imagine my astonishment when I heard that it costs $100/night! What the *bleep*? $100/night for a motel room? In Saskatoon?

After doing some more research I managed to find a decent motel room for slightly less, $80. A short discussion with the receptionist let me to conclude that this has something to do with the economic mega‐boom that Saskatoon is going through right now. Whoever invests any of his money in the Canadian market knows that Saskatchewan is the next big thing (at least that’s what Bay Street’s speculators are trying to sell us). Demand is surpassing supply on pretty much everything, hence the increased prices.

You will rarely hear a bunch of guys in their 20’s or 30’s saying “lets go to Saskatoon and have fun”. The city has acquired itself the reputation of an extremely boring place. Well, lets admit it, Saskatoon is not Montreal. But it’s not as boring as people claim. Yes, as soon as I entered the city I sent an SMS to my friend Jonathan telling him that it appears to be boring. However later I got to drive a bit around, there appears to be some action there. Not much, but still.

Also, the entire city appears to be under construction which makes traffic hell. You can tell by the roads that the city wasn’t planned to be a mega‐city in the first place, and with this economic boom growing faster and faster, driving in this city became nightmare.

Remember I told you I learned from my mistake of not considering the time difference between Edmonton. This time I was smart enough to check the time zones in Google and accounted for an hour difference. So I arrived at the motel on 6:00pm, with the show starting at 7:30pm. Changed quickly and drove to the venue, only to discover very shortly later that there is no time difference between Edmonton in Saskatoon, at least not today.

Edmonton and Saskatoon are indeed in two different time zones, however Edmonton’s time zone (MST) observes daylight savings time whereas Saskatoon’s one (CST) doesn’t.

So the first time, I ignore an existing time difference, and at the second time I assume a time difference that doesn’t exist.

I think my brain is going through something.

As I was early, finding parking nearby the venue was a snap. I parked on the street, which is free of charge after 6:00pm. Walking distance of about 30 seconds to the venue. I did remember to wear a new shirt though (whoever doesn’t understand why I’m mentioning this, read my previous posts).

The venue itself is rather impressive, almost as the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton. You have great facilities inside and lots of space. Distance between the front row and the stage was about one meter with no barrier in between, which I appreciated very much.

Some pictures:


So far I’m really enjoying the Canadian venues (with the Jack Singer Concert Hall being the exception. It was OK, but not great).

I had some time to kill so I hit Starbucks further down 22nd street:


Some view from that spot towards the downtown area:


My dear readers, I was very, very tired. Remember the night between the shows in Seattle & Vancouver, that I slept about two hours plus one hour on the train? Well, last night I slept barely two hours and had to drive all day.

And with all of that, there comes Jesca Hoop on stage. Jesca’s voice is so soothing and warm, and hearing such a soothing and warm voice when I’m super tired doesn’t contribute much to my alertness. Her performance was very good. At the beginning of one of her songs, she didn’t manage to get a clear high pitch voice, so she stopped, apologized and asked to start again. Way to go Jesca! That’s cool. She dealt with it very well and the crowd seemed to appreciate it.

During the intermission, I went by the stage (which wasn’t hard; I was seated at row AA seat 12, about 4 seats right of the absolute center) to look closely at the equipment. John was there tuning one of his weapons of mass entertainment, and was very kind to say hello. He asked me how was the drive, and I replied that it was very long. He then told me something that I couldn’t understand as I was having a major headache due to lack of sleep, and then said “enjoy the show”. I noticed that he’s very busy preparing for the show so I didn’t bug him to repeat what he said.

Took some pictures from the stage:


This last picture is Richard’s effects pool. I have no clue what each box does as I myself am not an effects‐fanatic. Look at all of this. Insane! I’m not sure how many of those are active at any one time though. These are all tuned just right to emit the tone that is so unique to Richard. Can’t wait to get a copy of his new album.

The band came on stage and were welcomed with cheers all over the place. It turned out that my seat was directly in front of Richard, which was nice because I got some clear view of how he plays the guitar. I noticed some interesting things that I will try as soon as I am back home. I miss my Gibson…

The sound in the venue was great. I am no sound technician and my definition of “great sound” may vary from other people’s, but basically, I consider the sound to be great when there’s excellent balance among the volumes of each instrument, and when you hear good sound no matter where you’re seated.

Very simplistic, huh.

Concert went smooth with the usual set list except for skipping “Shangri La” at the encores. The highlights of the evening, other than the obvious Marbletown interlude (I believe I mentioned it about a thousand times now), were an amazing performance of “Hill Farmer’s Blues” when Mark improvised yet another brilliant solo that is different than any other version heard so far.

Now I have heard Mark improvise with the guitar before, but I can’t recall him ever improvising voice. Enter the Saskatoon concert when he threw in some vocal improvisations during “Song for Sonny Liston”. Turned out very good. Great guitar work there as well, he appears to enjoy improvising on this song.

Some pictures from the show:


I happened to really like the crowd yesterday. Good balance of basically all age groups 20 years old and up. The crowd appeared to behave itself, as I couldn’t witness Mark pointing at anybody filming the show.

Somewhat shy, though (the crowd). Several times I found myself being the first one to stand after an excellent performance, when other people seemingly waiting for somebody else to raise their arse from the seat first because nobody wants to be “that guy”. So that was me.

Nevertheless, great cheers at the end of the show, before and after the encores. Some amazingly looking girl (in fact, Saskatoon is home for so many beautiful girls… another consequence of the economic boom? One must ask) left a bouquet for Mark, on the stage, at the beginning of “Going Home”. He seemed to have appreciated it much more than he appreciated those two roses handed to him by that Vegas woman (read my post to find out more).

Great concert, I really enjoyed it. At the end there were a few people there seemingly waiting for everybody to leave so they’ll be in a better position to ask for a pick, or other memorabilia, from the stage crew. Now I don’t really get this. For me, a simple “Hello” from a band member means way, way more than some piece of plastic with somebody’s fingerprints on it (and maybe some sweat), no matter how famous this person is. At the end of the day, I reckon, we’re all people. A pick with some sweat on it means nothing; appreciation, gratitude and communication between an artist(s) and his /their crowd means much more.

During the Vegas concert, Danny Cummings gave a fan, I believe her name was Nancy, his drum sticks. Apparently he knew her or heard about her before, I can’t recall the exact story. That is meaningful and beautiful because there’s a personal element in it. If there’s no personal element in it, then what’s the point?

But that’s just me. Obviously I’m not attacking anybody here, just expressing thoughts. I recall once writing about me not understanding how North American people eat greasy food in the morning, and somebody commented on my blog calling me an ass… don’t take it personally. :-)

Went back to the motel after the concert, then decided it’s time to eat so I went to Kelsey’s for dinner. Kelsey’s is a Canadian (I think) chain of mostly American food. It’s not great but not bad either. Definitely not White Spot level.

I happened to catch up with Guy’s and Richard’s blogs. Guy & Richard—please allow me to thank you again for having me a part of your blogs, it is very much appreciated. Also, I would like to thank you, and possibly other band members who read my blog, for taking the time to read it being the tour so packed with action.

Anyway, it turns out that Richard has followed my recommendation regarding White Spot, went there and enjoyed their wonderful burger. Richard, I know exactly what you mean about not being able to pinpoint what in the sauce makes the hamburger so great—that’s exactly what drives me bonkers as I tried to recreate this taste in my own house a few times, with a %100 failure rate. It’s the sauce, I tell you.

The rest of the band, while having a day off in Vancouver after the Calgary show (must be so nice to have an airplane willing to take you wherever you want), followed Richard’s recommendation and they all went to White Spot. There’s a funny picture of Mark wearing a helmet right outside White Spot, however I can’t figure out which White Spot it was. Since they were biking in Stanley Park, I suppose it was the one in West Georgia street right next to the park? It happens to be of the better locations—they have a bar there as well and it’s nicely decorated.

Happy you liked the food, guys. Next time you’re in British Columbia or Alberta, you may also want to check Earl’s out—another BC / Alberta chain, not really much into burgers but just great food. Their absolute best establishment is in Jasper. They call it “Earl’s in the Rockies”, and sitting in their patio you can eat while watching the snow‐peaked mountains. Joy.

I should really move to the west coast…

It’s Wednesday morning now, and I have to check out already. I’m expecting a short 250km drive to Regina today, so I’ll take the time to hang out in downtown Saskatoon.


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