Didn’t get too much sleep last night, for whatever reason. It may just be that it takes me a few days (as always) to adjust to “vacation mode”; it could also be the excitement stemming from the fact that, there, the tour is just about to start. 4 hours of sleep, and I swear to whatever‐it‐is‐that‐runs‐the‐show that I slept like a brick. Correction: slept better than most bricks.
After a preliminary drive around town with Hadar (Seattle has some amazing neighbourhoods; Magnolia reminds me a lot of West Vancouver), I drove to downtown Seattle to reconnect with Jeroen who had spent the night at the Moore Hotel, adjacent to the Moore Theatre. We had a few hours to kill before the concert starts, so we paid a short visit to the Space Needle (or, how Hadar’s mother once called it, “the Spicy Noodle”). We then killed another hour or so in a local coffee place called “Forza Coffee”; huge mistake—I want my hour‐or‐so back (you can keep the money), paid a short visit to the Pike Place Market and went back to the hotel.
Last tour, at the Woodinville, WA concert, I was approached by a guy named Raghu who introduced himself as a reader of my blog. A few weeks ago we reconnected and decided to get together once I am in Seattle for the tour, and so we did. Shortly after there were the four of us—Raghu, his friend Naveed, Jeroen and myself—in a Mexican restaurant named “Pesos” in Queen Anne Avenue North, chewing on some decent Mexican food, sharing stories and laughs and having an altogether good time.
Heading back to the Moore Theatre, there came the time to pick‐up the tickets. Tickets purchased through markknopfler.com were not mailed to attendees—instead, arrangements were made so the tickets are picked up at the venue itself (that is in order to prevent ticket‐scalping). I am sure that the tour’s management would be pleased to know that, at least for the Seattle show, things went smooth. Very well done.
The Moore Theatre, located at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Virginia Street, dates back to 1907. According to Wikipedia, the venue seats 1,419; I haven’t seen any empty seats, and the entire setting appeared to be rather cozy and intimate. I was seated in Pit Centre, Row BB, Seat 3—I would say within a hand’s reach of the stage.
A lesson I learned (the hard way) from last tour was to always carry ear‐plugs when seated at the front seats. Realizing I had completely forgot about those, I hurried outside to buy some—causing me to miss the first 20 minutes of Pieta Brown’s show. Quite a shame; she was still playing when I returned, she has a sweet voice that blends beautifully with her guitar. Bo Ramsey accompanied her with an electric, and the 10 minutes I spent watching her perform have passed‐by really quickly. Very good opening act.
A few minutes of intermission and there is Mr. Crockford again, carrying fire & hell prophecies to whoever is caught taking videos of the show. Paul’s recording‐policy announcement traditionally takes place around five minutes before the concert starts; the countdown has begun.
And before long, there were eight musicians (six familiar, two new) on the stage. As if July 31, 2008 was just yesterday and we didn’t really have a couple of years of break between the tours. Let me tell you something—it was exciting to see the gang back on the stage. That’s where they belong; they looked fresh and ready to rock. If at all, the person who most appeared to be a bit shocked of it all was Mark himself—perhaps startled of the warm welcome he received from the crowd?
The band didn’t waste time and went straight ahead to the show’s opener. Of the people I asked prior to the show, all of them wished for the same song to start the show with. Quite amazing when talking about an individual with such an extensive repertoire as Mark Knopfler.
Mark apparently sensed that (or maybe he had read my blog entry describing the experience of listening to Get Lucky for the first time), and decided to spice things up a bit by throwing in some brilliant Fender Stratocaster riffs into the mix, giving the opening song quite an interesting spin. Very well received.
Today was also the first time that I witnessed “Sailing to Philadelphia” being performed as a duet, with Tim O’Brien singing James Taylor’s part. Pretty good voice, and I’m happy to hear STP performed as a duet. That wasn’t the only surprise in the show, though. A few setlist picks came as a complete surprise to me—to the point that I couldn’t help but mumble “no way… no way”.
(Continuing April 9, 9:45am)
Oh God. I guess I almost fell asleep on the keyboard… anyway, where was I.
Altogether four tracks made it from Get Lucky into the setlist, including the two singles that were released last September. Two solo albums—Golden Heart and Kill to Get Crimson—were completely left out; I guess something like that was bound to happen, with an ever‐growing repertoire and a fixed 2‐hours limit on concert time. It is extremely unlikely for Mark to ever come up with a setlist that will satisfy everybody. In my completely subjective case, I would happily “trade” any Dire Straits song (except for Brothers in Arms, as it lies within its own category of heavenly musical creations) with any Get Lucky song, for the mere fact that, in my mind, Get Lucky is Mark Knopfler’s best album, including all Dire Straits material.
Still, no show can go by without a few Dire Straits hits, beautifully made—although I did notice a slight increase in the tempo (barely noticeable). It seemed as if Romeo is hurrying somewhere…
There was only one thing that held the show back, in my opinion, which was the sound at the venue. Locals have told me that the Moore Theatre isn’t designed to give the perfect heavenly acoustic experience, to say the least; the crew, as brilliant as it is (and, granted, having seen them 39 times setting things up and working through the concert, they are brilliant), still has to work within the venue’s limitations and it appeared as if this particular venue gave everyone a hard time.
I would attribute the venue’s sound to the fact that the opening song lacked some… well, how could I put it in words… “boom”. It may have been the venue’s fault, or maybe just a slight volume maladjustment, but whatever it is that makes Border Reiver such a great song (is it that rhythm guitar playing those substantial Cm chords? perhaps) needs to be amplified to give a better WOW experience.
Then again, that is just my impression and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if the venue’s architectural characteristics had something to do with it. Guess we will see it evolving over time.
Show ended at around 10:30pm—slightly over two hours. We were literally kicked out of the venue by some angry people claiming that the “union” “forces them” to clear the venue immediately due to curfew. Well, what can you do.
Back to Jeroen’s room to pick up my backpack, then walked Linda to her hotel, which was right next to where my car parked. I first met Linda during the concert in Abravanel Hall, in Salt‐Lake City, UT in the summer of 2008; was great to catch up. We bid each other farewell and I went back to Kirkland.
10:12am now, time to have some breakfast. In a few hours, we will cross the border to Canada, for the Vancouver show tonight.
PS. I receive quite a few supportive emails from readers. Much appreciated, guys & gals. Stay tuned for further updates.