The coolest thing about the Pechanga experience was the fact that the venue, the restaurants and the bed were all within a few meters from each other. It’s like having the band perform in your living room, then you go back to your room to change and from there proceed to your kitchen to have a late‐night snack.
The next destination was The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA. A mere two hours drive from Pechanga, I decided to take the day slow; slept‐in, lengthy shower, brunch at the hotel… you see the picture. By 10:00am we had left the Pechanga Resort; as I was not going to have any espresso from any “coffee cart” at the casino, our first task was to hit the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea‐Leaf, on Temecula Parkway, about 3 miles away. The weather was great so I spent about an hour at the Coffee Bean’s patio, sipping coffee and blogging—not necessarily in that order.
Life appeared to be so peaceful and the very thought of having to drive into Los Angeles clouded the peaceful mindset I was at. Only a few times have I had to drive through Los Angeles, and each time was worse than the time before. It’s a huge city with millions of cars, smog‐full highways, angry drivers… Bah. So I took any minute in Temecula with the broadest sense of enjoyment.
At 1:00pm I started driving towards Los Angeles. Good thing my GPS is traffic‐aware; took us through some alternate routes, mostly no traffic (the traffic on the other direction, though, was horrendous at best), until we hit the US‐101N towards Hollywood, when all hell broke loose. Traffic up the ying‐yang, I think I lost a few years of living due to smog inhalation.
Didn’t they say that California, and in particular Los Angeles, has the largest Toyota Prius population in North America, being Californians so environment‐aware and such? I swear I couldn’t even see one of those. I saw lots of Ford F‐150’s, F‐250’s and other environment‐unfriendly vehicles. One of those trucks actually had a license plate “GASGRIDY”. Funny & sad at the same time.
We finally reached our destination: Best Western Hollywood Hills, a few meters from Argyle & Franklin, a 5 minutes walk from the venue. It’s a small hotel, yet has everything we need. The most expensive hotel I booked for the North American leg of the tour, too. Well, what can you do. This is Hollywood.
The drive to Los Angeles was stressful after all, so I took a couple of hours to unwind at the hotel room, do the laundry and other maintenance tasks. At around 5:00pm, I received a text‐message from Nancy, saying that she and her friend Vikky (that’s how she spells it) are in the waiting list for a table in an Irish pub called “Dillon’s” next to the venue. A quick bite before the concert appeared to be a great idea; took whatever we needed to take to the concert and headed to meet Nancy and Vikky.
That was my first time in downtown, central Hollywood. What can I say, folks… yes, this is certainly Hollywood. “Silicon Valley”, and I am not discussing high‐tech. We were waiting for half an hour for our table, and, quite frankly, it was a tad complicated to focus on any conversation while half‐naked pub staff kept wandering around serving pretty much everybody except for us.
Dinner was so‐so (for me, at least) and we walked back to the venue.
Ticket collection for markknopfler.com took place at a desk on Argyle street, next to the stage entrance. We felt special.
It’s been a tiring day for me:
The Pantages Theatre seats 2,703 (exactly). It opened on 1930 and is considered a prominent, major venue for movies, TV shows and musicals. It is a beautiful, spacious theatre; certainly feels like Hollywood here although this building was built 80 years ago.
Front row, dead centre tickets again. As a matter of fact, the stage’s main floor was split in half exactly between Jeroen and myself:
The L.A. crowd is loud. By far the strongest cheers I have heard so far in the tour; a standing ovation when the band appeared on the stage, and after almost each and every song.
We got an extended encore, with both So Far Away and Shangri‐La included. Other than that, the setlist was identical to that of the night before in Santa Rosa. The sound at the front‐row, at least where I was seated, was good but not as good as a few previous shows—either I was too tired or the high frequencies sort‐of blew my ears away. Too loud? maybe. Still, in general, the show was a joy, but really what made this show for me was the cheery crowd. The band plays very well and certainly deserves to have the crowd on its feet.
Another thing that fascinated me during this particular show was a young woman, who appeared to be extremely excited from whatever happened on stage. She was crying during most of the show, and completely let loose of her tear ducts during Telegraph Road (you would expect “Romeo and Juliet” here, wouldn’t you? I know I did); threw flowers at Mark and wept uncontrollably.
And the reason it fascinated me so much was that I have never yet seen such an emotional discharge during a concert. That’s one of the fascinating thing about music—it extracts different things from different people, making them react in all different sorts of ways. Some people may shrug at Mark’s music; others may nod their head and say “nice”; others would fall in love with the music; yet others would fall in love with the person sitting next to them during the show; and some, I guess, would fall in love with the artist itself. All sorts of reactions… mostly completely unpredictable.
I have seen all sorts of fans, including those who shrugged, those who nodded, those who fell in love with the music / the person next to them / the artist. Granted, it is very easy to tag certain people as “too bored” or “too scary” or “too stalking” or “lifeless”… and I admit to have sometimes done that in the past. I am, however, sort of regret that as it’s a totally unfair categorization. Emotional reactions are very hard to control, let alone predict. As long as the reaction doesn’t harm anybody, it should at least be treated with respect (“agreement” is a totally different thing) as, in the vast majority of cases, those reactions stem from positive intentions.
Hmmmmm. I should think about that further.
After the show, I left the venue only to realize that hey, it’s Friday night and nightlife in Hollywood are just starting now. I felt like having a drink; Nancy and Vikki already went away, but with the help of the latest in technology (SMS), we managed to co‐ordinate a meeting place. I suggested we go to the “W” hotel’s lounge.
When I made that suggestion, all I knew about the “W” was is that it is a hotel right across the street from the venue, and the reason I suggested it was that it was really close to where I was at that moment. I also knew that Nancy was staying there so, what the heck, less walking for everybody.
Little did I know what that hotel really is all about. It’s a brand‐new hotel, built to perfection and boasts a lounge that, by the long line‐ups outside, are really popular among the young, hip and wanna‐be‐cool’s. Way more skin than you’d usually expect to see (“Silicon Valley”, I wrote already), and seems like everyone there was trying to put on the best show in order to be “counted”.
I felt like a smokin’ hot VIP when Nancy and Vikki, being the hotel’s guests, were able to bypass the entire line‐up with Jeroen and myself walking behind, with an expression of astonishment on our faces. I was wearing jeans, a T‐shirt and sneakers (!), and received some strange looks from people who felt that it just wasn’t right that a nerd like me is bypassing the world on his way to one of the hottest lounges in Hollywood.
When we got to the lounge, I understood why everybody wants to be there. It is very spacious, and everyone there tried the best they could in order to belong. Guys dressed as if they’re taking a part in a music‐video shoot, girls dressed as if… well, actually, erase that. “Undressed” is the word. Gold‐diggers in every corner, gorgeous women using their skills to attract whatever rich‐looking guy they could have laid their eyes (and hands) on.
Yes… I guess we’re in Hollywood.
A glass of good Pinot Noir, a few laughs and I left back to the hotel. The end of a good day; tomorrow we stay at the same location, as there’s another concert at The Pantages.