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Hello. My name is Isaac Shabtay, 32 years old from Ontario, Canada. I have set this blog up to document my journey following Mark Knopfler’s “Get Lucky” tour during the spring‐summer of 2010. This is in much the same way I did for Knopfler’s 2008 “Kill to Get Crimson” tour (see the “Links” section), except that this time, I will be following the entire tour—starting April 8 in Seattle, Washington, and ending July 31 in Gredos, Spain. Similarly to before, though, you are more than welcome to sit back, relax, read and comment. All comments, positive and negative, are welcome. You can also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed (see links at the right‐hand side of the screen), so new posts become available through your favorite RSS reader. Have fun, Isaac

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Concert Day: Wells Fargo Centre of the Arts, Santa Rosa, CA (April 14, 2010) (Part 2)

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 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 ( 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.

Correction, 2010‐04‐15 4:00pm: Poor choice of wording (thank you Alex for pointing that out). The general performance of the song hasn’t been interrupted. What I meant was that Mark himself stopped playing whatever guitar riff he was playing, in order to vacate a finger to point at an imbecile in the crowd filming the show. My apologies for the poor choice of words.

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.

Good night,


  1. Those photos will get to you I promised. Catching the plane to san Diego, and will see you at Pechanga.


  2. Isaac, it was great to hang out with you too. Nothing beats front row. Maybe I'll feel MK withdrawal symptoms and need to fly out to see him again somewhere on the tour. I hope he tours again.

    Just a note in your blog. I don't remember Mark actually stop playing Brothers in Arms, he just waved his hands at someone in the audience in between one of his guitar licks, but didn't miss a beat. I was more worried that it would throw him off. It didn't though.

  3. Hi Alex,
    Was great to meet you as well. I hope to see you in additional shows.

    With regards to your note about the performance: yeah, I guess I chose incorrect words. By "not waiting for a pause", I meant that Mark did not wait for a "natural pause" in his own solo guitar work; he stopped whatever riff it was that he was playing.

    By "stopped playing", I meant to Mark himself (read: "Mark had to stop playing").

    The general performance of the song was not interrupted.

    Hope that makes sense now, and I apologize for the poor wording. Special apologies go to Guy Fletcher who had to deal with an angry concert-attendee-to-be.

    I just don't get people who are asked to refrain from doing something because it distracts the artist, then doing it anyway.

  4. Hope you made it safely to Temecula. If you do grab In and Out Burger make sure you get a Vanilla Milk Shake.

    Also, just looked at your trip. How are you going to get from Phoenix, AZ to Denver in 1 day? Google shows it as a 14+ drive. Yikes. For starters I think you should drive so you can shave some time off.

  5. In & Out Burger was great. I liked the simple menu and the cheeseburger was really, really tasty. Thanks for the pointer, man.

    Yeah, I'm still pondering that huge drive. It's not going to be easy, and certainly we'll start driving right after the show. But whatever it takes... we'll make it there. (hopefully in one piece)

    At the Pechanga now, getting dressed and going to meet Nancy downstairs for a snack & a drink. You're missed here, buddy!

  6. Isaac; a question if you don't mind. There seems to be some confusion on the photo policy on this tour. Officially, still photos are still permitted. But we're hearing that the pre-show announcement is saying that they are not. All who follow closely know that filming has been verboten for the last two tours, but stills?.... I know this can be venue-dependent, but since you've been at all the shows so far, has each started with a "no photos" announcement? Thanks!

  7. Hi Rich,

    Paul Crockford appears on stage a few minutes before each show and gives, more or less, the same announcement every time. The announcement calls for not using cellular phones and video cameras.

    He has been saying nothing about still photos; neither at this tour nor at the last.

    That being said, to my knowledge, the policy allows taking photos with regular, home-use (rather than professional) cameras.

    In a case when a venue has its own photo-shoot policy, that policy is combined with the band's policy, which often results in a more restrictive policy altogether (for example, the Woodinville Winery north of Seattle has a strict no-camera policy, so even if the band posed no restrictions, still you wouldn't be allowed to bring cameras in).

    In short:

    1) Check the venue's policy. If it disallows cameras of any kind, leave the camera at home.

    2) If you have a home-use camera, you will be OK using it. Leave the expensive professional stuff at home, as well as any tripods of any kind (believe it or not, people do show up to concerts with camera tripods).

    Hope this helps,


  8. Thanks Isaac! That clears things up, and staysd consistent with what occurred last tour. I was bummed if I wasn't going to be permitted to take ANY photos at all, as some on the MK forum were suggesting. Especially since I'll be front row in Chicago.

    BTW - we met briefly (and shared half a seat) at the Charlotte show last tour. I was sitting in the front row when you came down for the encore to talk with Kami. Best to you on your journey across the country!

  9. Rich, just a follow up comment. Since Isaac is always in the front row, he may not be privy. In the shows that I went to, sometimes the show security gets overzealous with their orders and chases after people with cameras who are taking too long to focus. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between video and photo when they have a large digital display. My advice: just be discreet and fast about whatever you're doing so that it doesn't cause a stir.

  10. You're right Alex, the whole security thing is very venue dependent. And I don't mean their "official" policy, I'm more referring to how aggressive the security folks pursue enforcement of those policies. I've been to some venues that officially say no photos, but folks in the audience are snapping away with no one ever bothering them. I've also seen others that jump on you the minute you take out a camera.

    Since I'll be front row in Chicago, I'm not going to miss the opportunity. And I've been taking concert photos since the mid 70's, so I've become quite discreet. Never use a flash (I've never seen a flash photo of a performer I've liked anyway), and I even turn off the IR focus assist lamp so the performers don't see that little red flash. I've also learned to never snap one of a performer while they're singing either. One; I don't want to potentially mess with their concentration at that point, and two; I hate the look of someone's face smashed up against the mic.

    Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what happens.

  11. Good stuff, Rich & Alex.

    Rich, as long you stick to common sense, you should be fine. Looking forward to meet with you in Chicago.