Waking up at the morning of July 9, the first concert day after four days off, I was feeling fantastic. Great night sleep; I was alert and full of energy. Of course, the first thing I did was hit the fridge to get some syrup and see whether my taste‐buds were functioning again.
They were not, and I was disappointed. I started thinking about what happens if I can never taste anything again? Now about that for a T‐shirt slogan… “I attended the Get Lucky tour in its entirety and all I got is this lousy T‐shirt—and, oh by the way, I can’t smell / taste anything”.
The plan for the day was to get a haircut, rest‐up and then drive to Piazzola sul Brenta, where the concert was to take place (Padova, mentioned at the various websites as the location of the concert, is actually the nearest sizable city to the venue). Daria’s family was going to join us for the concert.
It wasn’t before noon time or so before Daria took me to a barber shop so I can once again resemble a human being rather than an ape. Well, a “barber shop” wouldn’t quite be it. It actually was a unisex hair salon.
My past experience with women cutting my hair has so far been… well, how to put it gently… terrible. I never quite knew what it is that made my hair so offensive towards female haircutters that they had to massacre it oh so badly—and, quite frankly, I never really wanted to know. This time however it was different: quick & great work and I was very happy. Finally my scalp could breathe again.
On our way walking back to Valeria’s house, we stopped by a Gelateria to get some ice‐cream. I knew I couldn’t taste anything—what I really wanted was just something to cool off with. It was steaming hot outside.
A biscuit was stuck in it.
I reached to it and took a bite.
… Hey! What’s that?
… … …
OH was I ever so glad to be able to smell and taste anything. I’m back, baby—with full power! HAHA, Italy—there’s no turning back now! Nothing would stop me anymore as I am going to explore your pizzas, pastas, desserts, coffees, ice‐cream and whatever it is you’re going to be throwing at me!
I shall never take my taste buds for granted again. And, by the way… that ice‐cream was to die for.
We were all planning to leave Trento at around 4:00pm. As Daria were finishing up a few things, Valeria and I went to the supermarket to buy some groceries for the road ahead. I was instructed to prepare sandwiches, and you can’t say no to Valeria (she has some impressive authoritative voice); I have always been a good student… so I have been told.
At around 4:00pm, Daria showed up with her family; loaded everything onto the vehicle, buckled up and started driving towards Piazzola sul Brenta. A pleasant ride of two hours, during which I took a few photos. The other inhabitants of the car didn’t quite understand what it is that I’m so enthusiastic about; I gave up trying to explain.
Driving in Italy—and I’m saying this as a passenger as I haven’t had the chance to actually drive in here—must be quite the tedious endeavour. To the typical North American driver—especially the Canadian one—I would definitely recommend to avoid driving here whatsoever, or take some defensive driving training beforehand. Drivers here are far from being courteous; the Canadians might think of Montréal’s drivers as crazy… well, wait till you get to Italy.
I guess this is a part of Italian being; not just on the road, but everywhere. Life here is very informal; people here don’t tend to strictly stick to social norms just for the sake of following the herd. For example, the concept of a “line‐up” here is rather elusive comparing to North America (however I have seen worse. Go stand in a line‐up in Israel and tell me what you think). People step into each other’s boundaries, assuming that the other side will be forgiving as the other side will eventually step into theirs.
In many respects, Italian & Israeli mentalities are alike; the concepts, then, weren’t new to me.
A couple of hours after leaving Trento, we arrived at Piazzola sul Brenta.
Piazzola sul Brenta (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazzola_sul_Brenta) is a very small community (less than 11,000 people call this place home) about 15km away from Padova. There really isn’t much to do there; the main attraction there is, as a matter of fact, the area surrounding the venue—Villa Contarini (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Contarini)—a beautiful set of Baroque‐styled buildings amidst vast greens, alleys and lakes.
It was hot, my friends; hot and very humid. After picking up the tickets, we all went to a nearby Gelateria for some cooling aids:
It was there where I met Riccardo and Barbara—a beautiful young couple who bought two of the four front‐row tickets from my American friends through me. Turned out Riccardo has been reading this blog over the last little while; was great to meet the two, and even greater to see them later during the concert enjoying their minds off while being seated at the best seats in the house—heck, their seats were even better than mine! (and you know that sentence can’t really be said too often)
Glad you enjoyed it, Riccardo & Barbara, and thank you for helping my friends in time of need!
After devouring the sweets and spending almost two (!) hours in that Gelateria, we all decided to head to the venue—a few minutes walk away.
Villa Contarini is indeed a pretty sight; scores of concertgoers walked by and took pictures, myself included.
The concert took place at the huge square just facing the Villa; the audience area was divided in two—reserved seating and general admission (at the back).
I was very excited for this concert: I have heard a lot about Italy being quite the thrilling place to attend a concert in, Knopfler being a good case in point as his fan base here is substantial.
Many fans who attended this concert also attended other concerts in Europe prior to this one, so it was interesting to meet them again here. I was once again humbled by the exposure this blog has, as people kept coming by to introduce themselves along with very kind words. Thanks guys, much appreciated.
Rocco from Parma—a fan whom I had met just outside the Royal Albert Hall a month and a half ago, showed up. Turned out that Federico was there as well; Federico is the leader of a Dire Straits tribute band called “Glasgow Sailors”, and he contacted me after the Hurlingham Club gig. We chatted a few times but never met until yesterday. Good chap, and also a talented guitar player by his own right. Good to meet you finally, Federico.
The concert was scheduled to start at 9:30pm and started a few minutes late.
My overall impression from the entire concert experience in Piazzola sul Brenta was that, if this concert is of any indication to what Knopfler concerts in Italy are going to be like, then I really am happy to be here.
Mark featured a glaring white shirt that I can’t recall being worn so far; as a matter of fact, the band as a whole looked quite fresh as I believe they all had their hair cut (well… except for John).
An unusually upbeat & positive Mark; something must be going well with his recovery as he was actually standing during most of What It Is. I tell you folks, it was weird to see the man standing and playing for more than a few seconds, after over two months of seated concerts. Very weird. I sure hope though that he sticks to the stool as he does play better this way (my opinion of course). Lots of smiles to the crowd as well.
Over the first few songs, I was feeling as if the sound was just way too loud; I didn’t know to what I should attribute the pain in my left ear over the high guitar pitches—could either be the loudness, or maybe some side‐effect from my illness that hadn’t fully gone away. I was led to believe, though, that it was due to the sound; fact is that the problem was addressed about 20 minutes or so into the show.
The Anfiteatro is surrounded by many buildings, not all of which are a part of Villa Contarini I’m led to believe. Quite a few people gathered on the balcony of a nearby building and enjoyed a great concert for free. Yes, they did applaud, and very heartily so.
At night time, the area surrounding the Anfiteatro is really breathtaking. If you don’t believe me, ask Mark himself who, at some point, spread his hands apart and said something along the lines of “what a beautiful place we have here”.
Super‐quick introduction of the band members after Sultans of Swing; Done with Bonaparte and Marbletown followed and I was very curious to see what song was going to play next. Have to say that I wasn’t expecting this—Monteleone came back to life after spending a while off the setlist.
This last picture was taken as a reminder for myself of the awe I felt once noticing Richard playing the accompanying acoustic guitar during Monteleone. I believe it was the first time for me watching his fret work closely during this show; definitely not the easiest piece of guitar to play, but somehow this guy just sits there in the dark, looking around while moving his left‐hand fingers so quickly and accurately as if no effort was involved whatsoever.
Telegraph Road sent the masses to the barriers; that triggered some very swift response from the security team—a bunch of people who appeared to have spent way too much time at the gym. They attempted to get people back at their seats—by talking, of course. Federico, who was standing next to me, explained the situation to one of the security staff who then went ahead to reaffirm the newly‐learned information with his peers; we were all allowed to stand during the encore.
Photos were, for whatever reason, disallowed during the encore. The restriction has been lifted towards the end though.
The overall experience was fantastic: sitting under clear skies, pleasant wind blowing, beautiful surroundings… and the audience? excellent. I know that the Italian audiences are infamous for being overly vocal to the point of being rude at times, so I was surprised to find the audience to be not much different than, say, Munich’s audience.
Great participation by the audience! I think it was the first time for me to hear applause coming from the back all the way forward, rather than the other way around. Also, nobody got killed during the Running of the Bulls; we all had a great standing experience during the encore.
The concert ended at around 11:40pm. Good to have the band back after 4 days of rest; very enjoyable concert!
A few pictures of the Villa at night and we went back to the car.
Long ride home to Trento, during which, I believe, I dozed for a bit. It wasn’t before 2:30am or so when we arrived to Trento, where we all split to our ways.
I am signing‐off this post at 1:53am. It’s July 12 already (Spain won… well‐deserved)—sorry for the late post but, really, I was having way too much fun over the last few days—very well celebrated as I recovered from my illness.
We’re actually also past the Lucca concert… which was a totally different experience, and definitely not in a good way. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about it.