Bidding the Bad Ass Coffee (see previous post, don’t give me that look) goodbye, we proceeded back to the venue. The parking lot where we parked the car seemed to contain hardly any cars in it, which triggered the unavoidable question of whether we’re at the correct place. You know, nobody wants to be the first idiot to miss a Mark Knopfler show due to a confusion in the venue (last tour, I almost missed the Vienna, VA concert because I had mistaken it with Vienna, GA. If there’s something more pathetic than missing a concert due to venue confusion, it must be “missing a concert due to state confusion”).
All worries were lifted away once we saw the markknopfler.com sign at the box office. We later realized that the parking‐lot was empty because we parked at the back of the venue.
The Wells Fargo Theatre of the Arts (http://wellsfargocenterarts.org) is a non‐profit organization, aiming at providing the residents of Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and in fact the entire “North Bay” area with special, intimate performances. It relies solely on donations and memberships, and it is a very well‐run facility. The staff consists of people who apparently smile a lot—very kind and nice.
I entered the venue way before the hall’s doors opened, so had about 45 minutes to explore it. As it was tiny, I decided at some point to park my bottom on a seat next to an old grand Yamaha piano.
I consider myself to be a rather shy individual, let alone when I play. But I guess that when I travel, the feeling of being away from home sort of removes a few psychological barriers and I tend to be much more relaxed. I then decided to flip‐open the piano’s cover, and started playing.
At first, I played some sequences out of my head, whatever came up into my mind in that moment. The kind of stuff I usually play at home hoping that some consistent melody will come out of it (and sometimes it does, then I add some guitar to it and become really proud of myself). Once I realized nobody’s going to kick me out of there, I decided to be a bit more daring and started playing some piano‐only rendition of Coldplay’s The Hardest Part—from memory, of course (I can read notes but really never use them).
That seemed to have really entertained two of the ladies working at the facility, as they approached me (after a few rounds of claps) and asked me if I wrote that myself. I told them “I wish”, and they asked me to play another tune, but I decided to go check on the doors again.
Seeing those were still closed, I sat down at the piano again and played a rendition of some Israeli song I really like, only with an introduction that I wrote myself. Obviously nobody there knew which tune it was, but still I received some good feedback.
Felt good, to let go of those barriers.
Wannee (apparently an active member in some Mark Knopfler fan forums) showed up today again, we talked for a bit before the spontaneous piano concert; she took a photo of me playing, but hasn’t emailed it to me yet… so I guess you folks will have to remain in the dark for now.
Oh, the touch of piano… I bought my first piano about 3 months ago, and one of the disadvantages in taking this tour is the unavailability of a piano at my will. I already have too many ideas for melodies.
Ah, screw it.
Our tickets were almost the best ones in the house: front row, one seat left to the absolute centre. Now that may sound ordinary to you, but this one, folks, was special. And it was special for one reason: This venue is by far the tiniest I’ve been to in my life.
I could swear that I have been to pubs bigger than this venue. Seating mere 1,600 (1,100 at the orchestra level, additional 500 at the balconies), and with a stage half the size of normal venues, this venue is pretty much as intimate as it gets. Reaching my hand out while seated, I could touch the stage; the stage itself was at most 80–90cm (less than 3 feet) high.
Up, close and almost personal. Very unique experience.
The sound was pretty good considering the size of the venue; unfortunately, low frequency tones hit us rather passionately—but what can you do, really. Filter it out in your brain and enjoy the show.
Jerry and his brother Randy, who I met the day before at the Oakland concert, showed up and said hello. Alex arrived a bit later—his first front‐row attendance, so he was rather excited. Unfortunately that was the last time (during this tour) that we’re going to see Alex, as tomorrow we drive way south. Alex has been a great guy to hang out with, providing numerous tips for us in California. Thanks Alex for all your help!
The band showed up at around 8:45pm, maintaining the upbeat and lively spirit of the night before; that includes Mark, who evidently has been getting some good night sleeps recently. Setlist was a bit different than the night before, however no new songs were introduced (that is, all songs played tonight were already played in previous concerts during this tour).
The crowd of 1,600 cheered as loudly as a crowd of 3,000. Quite a few people danced to Sultans of Swing, and we all gave thanks to a brilliant performance of What It Is and Marbletown.
The Finger of Death has been pointed at someone today. Contrary to prior occurrences, Mark didn’t wait for any sort of “pause” in his performance and had to basically stop playing Brothers in Arms in order to ask someone to stop filming (the band of course kept on playing). I’m not a huge fan of organisms who make Mark stop playing, and others in the crowd appeared to have shared the same kind of emotion.
The band appears to get their stuff together better and better with each show; very nice. There are 82 concerts left to this tour, I wonder how better they can get.
82 concerts left. Wow.
Going to sleep now, have to wake up in a few hours and start driving towards Temecula. Quite the drive, about 460 miles. At least we get to stay at the Pechanga Resort itself, where the concert actually takes place. Seems nice… arrive, check‐in, get dressed and take the elevator down to the concert.