A great night sleep on Holiday Inn’s fine bed went uninterrupted until about 9:00am. I guess all of the thoughts and ponderings, that lately have been occupying my weary mind and pushing sleep away, decided to take a night off and my body was very happy to take advantage of that fact. I woke up feeling very well and recharged.
A four hours drive awaited us, from Kansas City to St. Louis; no need to rush anywhere, I thought. A minute later, my starving stomach reminded me that it also has a say in what’s urgent and what’s not, so we checked‐out and went on our way to find a place to eat.
It wasn’t too cold but there was a light, annoying drizzle pouring from cloudy, depressing skies. Walking in light rain wearing shorts and sandals is rarely a pleasant thing to do, especially when you’re hungry and looking for food. Driving through Kansas City’s almost‐vacant downtown area (Kansas City is the first sizeable city I have seen so far, that has hardly any traffic during weekdays), we ended up parking next to a cafe named “12 Baltimore Cafe”, located at (see if you can guess it) 12th & Baltimore, which was a part of some hotel whose name I cannot recall.
Do you know what “Grits” are? If so, good for you. I do. I mean, I do now. But this morning, I didn’t know. I like trying out new foods; the other side dish being “potatoes”, I thought I’d spice things up a bit by trying new things. Mental note to self: NEVER DO IT WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. Breakfast was delicious but whatever that “Grits” thing was has been quite the torture to consume.
A tasteless cappuccino and we were on our way to St. Louis.
The light rain turned into moderately‐annoying rain as we left Kansas City via the I‐70E, and the abundance of trucks didn’t make driving any more enjoyable to say the least. Warm temperature, convertible roof up, rain… and having “Grits” for breakfast… I had a feeling that this is going to be a long day.
Fortunately, after a little less than an hour, the rain stopped. Taking the convertible’s roof down, the ride became not bad, actually. The state of Missouri is far from being boring; very similar to south‐central Ontario—green on all sides, trees all over the place (must be gorgeous here in the fall), rolling hills… pleasant.
A stop in a peaceful‐looking city named Columbia (still in Missouri) for coffee has turned from yet another attempt to locate a local cafe into another Starbucks fallback. Knowing I have more than enough time on my hands, I decided to stop over for a coffee break as an attempt to compensate for the ridiculous cappuccino I forced my stomach to consume just a couple of hours ago.
Jeroen then took the wheel and I sunk into a couple of hours of responding to emails and doing some work. The drive itself seemed to be a breeze, no traffic whatsoever even as we approached St. Louis.
The Parkway Hotel was going to be our lodge for tonight. Quite far from the venue—about 2 miles—and I can’t seem to recall why I picked exactly it but I must have had a good reason. Check‐in was a breeze and I was very happy to find myself in a hotel room again.
We went for an early dinner at the hotel’s Applebee’s. After what seemed to be forever, the tasty meal made its way from the cook’s oven (or microwave) into my stomach, stopping for a moment on two inside a plate. Twenty minutes later, we took the hotel’s shuttle to the Fox Theatre, which is located in St. Louis’ downtown area, adjacent to the University of St. Louis.
Having some time to kill, we explored the area for a little bit and came across a cafe called “Nadoz Euro Bakery and Cafe”, located in 3701 Lindell Boulevard, about 5 minutes walk from the venue. Really cool place, serving decent coffee and offering ample seating space. After an hour of sitting there, I came to realize that they have a grand piano right nearby. The urge to play superseded any other urge; alas, some student put his i‐Pad on the notes’ stand and started playing classical music, showing no sign of nearing the end of his session.
Showtime approached, and we headed back to the venue.
The Fox Theatre, AKA The Fabulous Fox Theatre, used to be a movie theatre—now used as a performing arts theatre. As with most previous theatres picked for this tour, this theatre is, too, stunning. Reading a bit in Wikipedia, the interior of the theatre is almost a duplicate of the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI—featuring a Siamese Byzantine design. It is truly fabulous:
A minute before Pieta went on stage, a familiar face suddenly showed up and called my name. It turned out to be Colin Bryce, who was following my Kill to Get Crimson blog two years ago. We emailed each other a few times however today was the first time we met. He introduced me to his wife Kimberly, his son Conner (13) and his daughter Chloe (7). The family flew from Arlington, TX for the show. The conversation was cut because I had to step out to catch up with some things; but we continued talking once the opening act was over.
You know those cases when you ask somebody a question, and later slightly regretted that you asked it? Most of the times, you kind‐of have a feeling, while asking the question, that you’re going to regret it. Well, this happened to me today. I asked Colin a very simple question.
“So, Colin, where are you guys staying?”
Innocent question, right?
Of course. So I thought.
So here’s the deal: the Bryce family are ghost‐hunters. Yeah, that’s right. While you and I search Expedia for hotels or resorts, these guys do everything they can do to find haunted mansions, haunted houses, or pretty much anything that is haunted—to sleep in, and experience some events that are out of this world, literally.
So this week they’re staying in The Lemp Mansion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemp_Mansion), which is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in the USA.
They told me a few stories about their past experiences. Folks, only listening to these stories made me shiver; as I am writing these lines, it is 1:00am, the room is completely dark and only a small lamp lights my desk—and I am genuinely terrified.
Naturally, I asked myself what do the kids think about their parents’ hobby. Imagine my amazement when Conner told me that he actually takes active part in these endeavours, and that it’s not scary for him anymore.
A super‐nice family, I tell you. Pleasure to meet with them.
Our seats today were very good; back to the centre of the front row. The Bryce family was seated right next to us, to the left of the stage. And then the show started.
Folks, I can a few things about this show.
I can tell you that it was a very good show, of the best shows so far this tour. The band seems to have everything working smoother and smoother as the shows go by.
I can also tell you that the sound was phenomenal; even at the front row, the sound was clear and vivid—much better than the front row experience of the night before.
But, above everything, the show tonight was one of the best I’ve seen so far for a different reason altogether: the crowd.
I haven’t heard much about St. Louis before visiting; as a matter of fact, the entire state of Missouri was new to me. You know they say that different regions and different states have “different people” in them? that’s what I mean—I didn’t know at all what to expect.
The crowd consisted predominately of adults, my guess 40 years old and better. Looking at the crowd every now and then, you could actually see how grateful they were for the band visiting their city. They were so hungry for the music, especially for the Dire Straits tunes that I’m sure most of them grew up listening to; the theatre’s roof exploded once the band finished playing Sultans of Swing (with Mark performing the outro solo using very similar riffs to those he made famous in the Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert back in the early 90’s; absolute joy, I loved it), women went nuts for Romeo and Juliet and I could see a few people shedding tears during Brothers in Arms. So much passion, unbelievable.
Granted, that passion didn’t stem from thin air; it was an outstanding performance with the band giving its best.
Half‐way through the show, Jeroen noticed Conner (Colin’s son, see above) enjoying the show with superb passion (how frequently do you meet a 13 years old kid enjoying MK’s music?); as a matter of fact, the entire Bryce family (including sweet 7 years old Chloe who was clapping her hands through some of the songs) enjoyed the show so much that we decided to play some musical chairs and relinquished our centre seats; the Bryces shuffled to the right and enjoyed the show from where Jeroen and I have already enjoyed it before—the best seats in the house.
Kudos to the Bryce family—pleasure to meet with you.
Kudos to this amazing St. Louis crowd tonight; it has been a treat being a part of you.
The show ended with Chloe receiving a handshake from Mark, drum sticks from Danny Cummings as well as one of Glenn Worf’s picks. Seeing the kids’ happy faces… joy.
After the show ended, we exited the venue and found out it was raining. The possibility of hiring a cab seemed remote as there were millions of people outside and police was handling traffic. We decided to walk back to the hotel. Running & walking, then running again and walking again, in the rain… after 25 minutes were at the hotel. Shower never felt that great.
What an amazing day; what an amazing crowd. What an experience!
Tomorrow—wake up early as there’s a Friday drive to Chicago which may take more than the expected 5 hours. Also, I am scheduled to meet with the representative of an amazing organization tomorrow, for my next post in my “On Giving” side‐project. Stay tuned.
All the best from St. Louis, Missouri—