(This post is being written on April 16, 12:00pm)
Oh, what a long driving day that was.
Right after the concert in Santa Rosa, we drove back to Oakland to spend the night. We figured that would be more convenient than staying the night in Santa Rosa: for once, we would be able to stay at the same hotel for two nights in a row; also, Oakland is about an hour or so south of Santa Rosa, so it’s on the way from Santa Rosa to Temecula… saving us an hour drive during the already‐too‐long driving day.
My weary head had to bid the inn’s comfy pillow farewell after a little less than 5 hours of sleep. We decided to leave early—get‐up at 6:30am, pack everything and be out of the hotel by 7:30am, in order to avoid any chance of traffic driving south. The plan has been followed right to the T; a bit of a coolish morning, but still the sun was out and so the convertible’s roof. Within a couple of minutes we were already on the I‐580 southbound towards Los Angeles.
Having received some strange uncomfortable vibe from Oakland’s downtown, I decided to push my caffeine craving for a while until we leave Oakland altogether. We ended up having breakfast & coffee in Dublin, CA—about half an hour south of Oakland. Very close distant‐wise, very far in any other mean. It was nice to see some greenery and feel some peace after a driving a noisy interstate for half an hour.
Having chewed on a decent Starbucks sandwich and mildly‐acceptable coffee, I took the driver’s seat again and so our long driving day has begun. Destination—Temecula, California; estimated 8 hours drive.
The length of the drive stands in opposite proportion to what is there to be said about the road itself. The only drive more boring than that, in my experience, is the drive east of Edmonton towards the prairies in Canada.
At the beginning, you actually appreciate the endless skies and distant, brownish hills. There’s some greenery around as well. That’s better than the last time I drove this path, in the summer of 2008 (then I was driving northbound from Los Angeles to Berkeley), then it was as close to a desert as I could imagine.
(take this picture, print it one million times, chain the papers together and it will still be more interesting than the road we took)
We stopped along the way just off the highway, as we recognized an opportunity to take some photos that will demonstrate what the road is all about.
OK I think you get the point.
Such a long drive… not even a curve in the road to challenge your senses. Hell, we drove for miles and miles without even seeing a way to leave that road. We switched seats a few times as keeping your eyes open while driving this road is quite a tricky thing to do.
As you approach the Los Angeles County line, though, the scenery becomes prettier:
And… drum roll please… WATER!
We also got a glimpse of the U‐Haul truck carrying Richard Bennett’s gear:
After a short period of good scenery, things became ugly again as we approached the Los Angeles metro area. Following Jerry’s recommendation (thanks Jerry!), we detoured the Los Angeles basin area by taking the I‐210 eastbound towards San Bernardino, then the I‐15 southbound. Traffic became a nightmare: we later learned that people who left Los Angeles at noon arrived at Temecula at around 3:00pm—a 3‐hours drive for approximately 70–80 miles! Yikes.
Words cannot describe the relief I felt once we actually arrived at the Pechanga Resort. It has been a long and boring driving day. Good thing that I get to end each day watching the best live music the world has to offer.
The Pechanga Hotel Resort & Casino is quite the impressive resort, boasting friendly staff, a few restaurants, a decent‐sized casino (nowhere near, say, the Bellagio… then again, I don’t gamble so I’m judging by general appearance only) and great rooms for the price. I actually didn’t have much expectations—what can you get for $100 a night in a resort just out of Los Angeles… but I have to say I was surprised. It goes without saying that, the added benefit of staying the night at the very same location where the concert takes place, reduces quite a bit of stress.
Nancy, whom I first met during the Las Vegas concert two years ago, was staying the night at the same resort as well. We kept in touch ever since the last tour and it was great seeing her again. Checking in was a breeze. By far the best hotel room I stayed in so far. A quick shower and the three of us—Nancy, Jeroen and myself—went downstairs for an early dinner before the show. Good times, catching up with friends over good food; and Nancy has a very interesting story to tell.
On the way to the box office to collect our tickets (front row, right‐centre), my path crossed that of a tall, respectable‐looking fellow wearing a hat and a young lady wearing huge sunglasses. The greeting “hello” towards Bo Ramsey and Pieta Brown remained unanswered; perhaps they, too, had a very long driving day.
As before in this tour, markknopfler.com ticket collection went smooth. A few photos with familiar & new faces and we went inside the hall.
This is the place to note that I am quite baffled and humbled by the number of people following this blog, writing back, expressing support—I guess I’m pissing‐off much fewer people this time around—thank you for your readership and support, hats down to you all.
The showroom at the Pechanga is rather spacious for its capacity. 1,200 seats—less than the Wells Fargo Theatre’s capacity (Santa Rosa; 1,600) but looks quite big from the inside. VERY positive air at this venue.
Turned out someone screwed‐up the seats—the front row had two seats marked as “101”, “102” and “103”—which appeared to have puzzled the poor ushers trying to figure out what went wrong.
Pieta Brown took the stage just around 8:00pm, then the gang came in at around 8:45pm to some significant cheers. The sound at the venue was very good—somehow, the so‐discussed bass resonance problem wasn’t really felt at the front row. Magic? perhaps.
A slight variation on the setlist again, however no new songs were introduced; good to have Cleaning My Gun back, I must say. Great song, perfect fit for rocking the crowd.
We had a pretty humorous Knopfler, who handled some heckler from the crowd in a way that made me laugh quite uncontrollably (heckler to the talking Knopfler: “Just play it already”. Knopfler: “… like that guy over there, obviously watching a lot of Shakespeare”).
The high point of this concert was its end. For the first time during this tour, the crowd kept on standing during Piper to the End. It’s a great show‐ending tune, and being attached to the stage surrounded by people with hungry ears is certainly something to look forward to—much better than parking your ass on a seat and letting the guys just play away.
I must also mention that last night’s performance of Piper to the End was the best one so far. It had a lot to do with Mark yielding to the band during the outro solo (whoever has been listening to the studio version of the song probably noticed that the electric guitar takes a leading position only at the last part of the outro instrumental). In my mind, Piper to the End’s outro piece sounds best when the guitar takes a secondary role, then taking the lead role for the final round. That’s just me though.
Concert ended and within 10 minutes I found myself with Nancy at the cafe, each one working away—she’s responding to emails, and I’m editing a blog post that hasn’t been published yet. Stay tuned.