Before I start, just a small addition to yesterday’s blog post. Driving back from Ann‐Arbor to Ontario, we came across this. Jeroen thought it’s worth taking a picture of the very same Telegraph Road which inspired Mark Knopfler to write the so‐named song back in the early 80’s.
It was really strange, waking up this morning. After crossing the continent over the last 2.5 weeks, sleeping in hotels, motels and whatnot, it was really bizarre to wake up and find myself in my own bed. It was a sunny, beautiful morning. The neighbourhood where I live, at the west end of Waterloo, is a very quiet neighbourhood and I could hear the birds in the morning—wonderful. It was so great waking up at home.
Buffalo, in upstate New‐York, is two hours drive from my house so there was absolutely no reason to rush. Laundry… a visit to the supermarket (the fridge was totally empty)… good home‐made breakfast. Had breakfast on my deck, only blue sky & the sun above. The highlight, though, was saved for post‐breakfast; the cappuccino I prepared for myself this morning was so good that all memories of terrible coffee over the last 2.5 weeks were completely erased right after the first sip.
Took my MK Signature Strat for a few riffs, then the digital piano. Yes, still works. Life’s normal.
Felt so good to be home that I was actually a bit reluctant to leave. Try crossing over 8,000km over two and a half weeks, and let me know what it feels like to be home after the craziness is over.
Piles of mail on the table, courteously picked‐up by my friend Jonathan. %95 of it went straight to the shredder, the rest will wait till August as I’m in no mood for dealing with paperwork.
When the clock showed 2:00pm, we left my house on our way to Buffalo. We left early as I was going to take Jeroen on a quick tour in Niagara Falls—the Canadian side, of course, which is prettier—before the show.
On our way there—I’m still amazed that there was no traffic whatsoever—we stopped at a Harvey’s store in St. Catharines, just west of Niagara Falls. Harvey’s became famous when Richard Bennett mentioned his sympathy towards their hamburgers; it’s a Canadian chain that sells only in Canada. Good burger, really—however not the best, in my opinion (I still hold my opinion that White Spot’s hamburger, with the Triple‐O’ sauce, is Canada’s best fast‐food‐style hamburger). Too bad those are only sold in the west coast (plus a few stores in Alberta).
Tourism season hasn’t started yet, and it’s a weekday, so traffic (motor & human) at the Niagara Falls area was rather diluted. Found a street‐parking spot in Clifton Hill (the major tourist‐oriented street near the falls), and within a short walk we were close enough to the falls to take some good photos.
Quite the impressive sight, especially in perfect weather conditions.
Half an hour later, we went back to the car, crossed the US‐Canada border and drove towards the venue. For some unknown reason, we couldn’t locate the venue (or anything concerning the NY University at Buffalo) using my car’s GPS, so driving was a bit tricky, using Google Maps through the BlackBerry. Not too much trouble though; at the end, we found it.
Hmmmmm. Buffalo. For most Ontarians, Buffalo is known for its airport, as flights from Buffalo to USA destinations are much cheaper than flights out of Toronto, sometimes by 50% (this is the point to note that, according to a recent study, the Toronto airport is the most expensive airport in the world, for airlines to operate in. In other words, it costs a lot for airlines to do business here, hence the high airport taxes and, consequently, ticket prices). Other than for taking a flight, I spent only one hour in Buffalo for leisure (if you can call it that way); my friend Jonathan and I decided, at some sunny Sunday, to drive to Buffalo and see what’s in there to see and do. The result: NOTHING.
The Centre for the Arts (website: http://www.ubcfa.org, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UB_Center_for_the_Arts) building is located inside the NY State University at Buffalo, at the north campus. Parking is available for free just outside the building.
The best way to describe the venue (minus the concert hall itself) is “white”. Everything here is white. Way too much white, and fluorescent lighting doesn’t make it any less white. Other than that, there’s a convenient seating area, few drink stands, and lots of artwork hung upon the (white) corridor leading from the entrance to the theatre area.
The concert took place at the Mainstage Theatre which seats a little less than 1,800 people (there are other theatres in that complex, one of them seats 600. Now that would be nice, wouldn’t it). I had to skip Pieta’s show (again, unfortunately) to catch up with a few things and entered the theatre a few minutes before the show. I got the best seat in the house—front row, right at the middle.
The Mainstage Theatre is surprisingly large. I myself had a few wonderings regarding the choice of city and venue—Buffalo just never struck me as a “concert town”, and a university? … sounds strange, I don’t know. But anyway, the Mainstage Theatre is not a bad theatre at all. Very spacious and comfortable; I think that the back rows are just as far from the stage as the back rows in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN; I had to walk quite the distance in order to get to the front row.
The Mainstage Theatre also features a “deep stage”; the distance between the front row and the stage was maybe half a metre, yet the front monitors were located some 3 metres further. I wasn’t impressed too much, as such setups yield a psychological effect of estrangement—as if the crowd and the band are on two different planets.
And perhaps that’s one of the reasons for the Buffalo crowd being, by far, the quietest, most disciplined crowd so far this tour. Much fewer standing ovations than usual, much fewer cheers; I wouldn’t put the cause for that in the show itself, as the show, as a musical deliverable, was great as always; even the sound was great. But there was a sense of distance in the air, don’t know how to explain it but it was there.
Mark’s leg apparently still hurts as he was seated for the entire show. A funny moment took place after Sultans of Swing, when Mark said “This song… I usually don’t do it in such a position”. Someone from the front row shouted back “That’s what she said”, to which Mark replied “That’s right. I usually do it in a different position”, making a few ladies “woo‐ooh” with passion.
During Get Lucky, I suddenly felt in dire need for fresh air. I went outside the hall, into the reception area, and found out that hell, is this theatre warm! someone must have forgotten to turn on the vents. I then was swept into an interesting conversation with Cod, who has been the merchandise sales guy for Mark Knopfler’s tours ever since the beginning of time. Quite the interesting chap.
I returned to the hall for a great performance of Telegraph Road, and after a short encore the show was over. Time to go back, for the last night at home before continuing to Toronto tomorrow morning.
Getting out of the venue was a hassle, with millions of cars blocking all possible intersections. Still it was far better than the worst venue‐getaway I can remember—the Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia (that took about an hour, two summers ago).
Tomorrow’s show is at Massey Hall in Toronto. Jonathan, my good friend, will join us to the show and, just as Jos whom we took to the Denver show, will have the privilege of choosing the best seat out of the three we have. We’ll spend the night in Jonathan’s place in Toronto, to save us some driving the next day.