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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

Monday, May 10, 2010

North American Tour Summary (Now THAT Would Be the Last Post before Dublin)

I had the idea to write‐up a little post summarizing the North American leg of the Get Lucky tour. You may find it interesting.

So, here we go:

  • Total distance travelled by car: 8,831 miles (or 14,212.11 kilometres).
  • Number of Canadian provinces visited: 3 (British Columbia, Ontario, Québec).
  • Number of USA states visited: 21 (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New‐Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, New‐York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New‐Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia) + Washington DC.
  • Top 3 restaurants: Buenos Aires, Manhattan, NY; Blue Sage, Southampton, PA; Louise’s, Milwaukee, WI.
  • Worst meal: Milford Diner, Milford, PA.
  • Best coffee experience: The cappuccino that Hadar prepared for me in her house in Kirkland, WA.
  • Best commercial coffee experience: Kahili Coffee, 105 Lake Street South, Kirkland, WA.
  • Most boring town: Winslow, AZ.
  • Most boring drive: The entire state of Kansas.
  • Number of times being pulled over by police due to speeding: 1 (Jeroen).
  • Number of concerts: 28.
  • Best concert experience: Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario (April 29).
  • Best setlist surprise: A Night in Summer Long Ago, played twice or three times during the North American leg.
  • Most exciting concert moment: Mark telling John Monteleone’s story before playing Monteleone for the first (and only, so far) time during the tour, in NYC.
  • Most exciting non‐concert moment: Meeting my cousin David in Philadelphia, whom I had never seen before.


  • Best buddy to travel through thousands of Kilometres in a silver Ford Mustang convertible: Mr. Jeroen Gerrits, Delft, The Netherlands. Jeroen is currently making his way to the airport, where he will depart to The Netherlands in about an hour. Stay strong, buddy, it was an absolute pleasure to share this trip with you. See you in London on May 30.

See you all again soon,

Concert Day: Palace Theatre, Albany, NY (May 9, 2010)—Last Post before Europe

The last day of the North American leg of the Get Lucky tour has been characterized by genuine unwillingness, of both Jeroen and myself, to go through the day. True, the concert is a highlight that I’m looking forward to every day, but…

  • It’s in Albany, and I had some previous knowledge about Albany not being the most exciting place to hang out in; and
  • Due to an error I made while planning the itinerary (thinking Albany is north‐west than where it really is), I decided that we return the car in Buffalo, NY and find a way (bus, shuttle) to take us back to Toronto. That means a 4 hours drive after the concert, returning the car in Buffalo tomorrow morning and then another 2 hours ride somehow to Toronto. A much better alternative would have been to return the car in NYC and just fly to Toronto. But what can I do? I always said that I only look smart. I really am not.

It was sunny outside when we walked out of the hotel. For whatever reason I thought that weather is going to be nice as it was yesterday; and there I was, leaving the hotel with a backpack over my back, wearing shorts, a thin shirt and sandals—while it was about 50℉ / 10℃ outside and moderately annoying winds.

Put our stuff in the car and decided to have another round of IHOP pancakes; not because we liked it so much, but rather because it was so close. Turned out it was very busy with a line‐up the length of the Mississippi river outside; so we split.

The ride from Newark airport to Albany is just over two hours. Our attempt for breakfast in Clifton, NJ ended when we realized that most businesses there were closed (including the breakfast place that the GPS guided us to) and that it’s not really the safest‐looking area altogether.

Our next (and successful) attempt at breakfast was in Ramsey, NJ—not far from Clifton. Healthy breakfast (well… not that they had any healthy items on the menu; by “healthy” I refer to taking a regular breakfast and avoiding touching poisonous elements such as French fries), and then off to Starbucks for some tea and decaf (trying to detoxify myself from caffeine, see if it improves my sleep).

An hour later we proceeded on our way to Albany. Hardly an interesting ride, I was too close to fall asleep on the wheel after half an hour of driving; we switched and I (apparently, though I can’t recall clearly) fell asleep, and woke up just as we were entering Albany.

The city of Albany, NY is located approximately two hours drive north of New‐York City, and is the capital city of New‐York State. The Palace Theatre is located on Pearl Street, right as you leave the highway. It was around 3:30pm; we found a parking spot right next to the theatre and decided to explore the area by foot.

Folks, was that a waste of time. After taking the wrong turn on Pearl Street (turning left instead of right), we realized that in quite the shady area; a super‐bizarre individual carrying a hairstyle in an undetermined form, wearing colourful clothes and viciously‐looking boots, crossed our way whispering and mumbling to himself; garbage cans and bags are visible everywhere you go, and you can just feel the neglect.

Here is a picture that summarizes that part of Pearl Street:


Just tear it down already.

Backtracked towards the theatre and proceeded towards the Entertainment District, which seemed to be the place of action. It was bitter cold, windy, really not the day to spend too much time outside.

Perhaps because it was Sunday, but still, that area was as interesting and jolly as a Saturday night date with Larry King; not at all. Too boring to be real. Even Starbucks—the one chain that never failed us with being closed—turned out to be closing 3 minutes after we arrived there (at 4:00pm!). Clueless, we decided to take State Street uphill (riding the bus), as we were told we should find something to do there.

Nothing. Well, almost. Coffee was nowhere to be found, and the dining options appeared to be quite limited. We ended up in some Indian Restaurant, which appeared to be the place to be in in Albany as it had two other human beings in it (except for the server). Having chewed on a mildly‐acceptable meal, we decided to return to the venue by foot, about 15 minutes walk downhill.


More garbage on the sidewalk; a strange man walking the opposite side of the street, picking up cigarettes from the sidewalk, throwing away those who have nothing left to smoke.

All you need is a few tumbleweeds to get the feeling that you’re at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Finally, we arrived at the venue.


Picked‐up our tickets—front row, centre, a proper way to end the North American tour—and entered the venue. I was carrying a small backpack containing my laptop; the ticket scanner saw it and gave me a disgustingly rude look.

– “What’s in there?”

– “My laptop.”

– (in an incredibly arrogant tone) “Show me!”

Had to hold myself from replying with a calm, confident “Go fuck yourself”. Few things upset me worse than arrogance does; but causing a scene didn’t seem like the smartest thing to do so I obliged. Mr. Jobsworth‐with‐Power then had to consult his colleague whether laptops are allowed in the venue, to which the colleague replied “as long as it is not a recording device, it’s alright”. With the last bits of patience, I told him “I am not going to record anything” and just went in.

The Palace Theatre (sorry, no further details now as we’re driving towards Buffalo and I ain’t going to be data‐roaming with my Canadian SIM card. I don’t wanna have to sell my house) is definitely nicer than some of the last few venues of the tour. Between the front row and the 3 foot stage, there stood an intermediary stage, 1 foot high.


Pieta Brown & Bo Ramsey started their opening act for the last time this tour, as they will not be attending the European leg. As usual they gave an excellent performance—according to Jeroen, perhaps their finest performance so far and the audience were listening carefully. Exquisite performance of “The Other Way Around”; for the last song, Pieta chose to perform one of the first songs she ever wrote (quoting her), not sure what it’s called but Jeroen seems to think it’s called “Pretty Song”.

Great performance by the two, clearly a winning opening act for Mark Knopfler. After their performance, we went to the merchandise stand to bid them goodbye.

As we were waiting for Pieta to finish signing her CD’s for quite the line‐up of people who gathered nearby, I was suddenly approached by a tall guy, wearing black, with some sort of a communication device attached to his vest. He asked me something but due to the noise I couldn’t understand him, so I asked him to repeat.

“Did you go to each and every show so far?” he asked.

“Yes”, I said.

I then instantly realized that I recognize the face—he works with the band’s road crew (watching so many shows, you learn to recognize many faces). He handed me a pack of about ten Get Lucky T‐shirts, one in each available color, and said that it was a gift of appreciation from the crew. That was pretty sweet, and brought a big smile to my face. I thanked him dearly, as well as to Cod, the eternal merchandise guy, who became aware of the ongoing ordeal (“Give them BACK!!!” he yelled at me, jokingly, snatching the T‐shirts off my hands. What a great guy).

Went to the car to store the T‐shirts in there, and I could feel that I’m being watched by quite a few shocked concertgoers as I made my way out of the venue.

Went back to the merchandise stand; Pieta & Bo were just about to finish signing their CD’s, so they had time to fulfil the promise they gave us when we met them back then on the way to Chicago:


What a great opening act. See you, Pieta & Bo, and good luck!

The band took the stage at 8:20pm and played the usual setlist, minus Get Lucky. A great concert, much thanks to a wonderful audience—what an improvement comparing to the Atlantic City audience! A few missing bars here and there caused slight mis‐synchronization between the band members but, as usual, you wouldn’t notice it unless you attended quite a few shows already.

Today was Tim O’Brien’s last concert with the band, so Mark and the band bid him a hearty farewell during the band members’ introduction stage. I will surely miss Tim’s playing, he definitely presented an added value to the band. Great job, Tim, and thank you for the music!

We had some violent guitar solos during Sultans of Swing and Telegraph Road, with Sultans of Swing’s performance somewhat resembling that of the Toronto show (very reminding of the Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert’s version).

During the applause intermission before the encore, a superbly jolly individual decided to hop on the intermediary stage, approached the main stage and offered his hand to Mark for a shake. He was completely ignored until two event staff workers came by and ejected him from the stage (and from the venue altogether, I think).

At the end of the show, Mark asked Danny to hand the drum sticks to a cute little boy that was seated right next to me at the front row and slept during most of the show; after the band left, and as people were leaving the venue, Glenn Saggers appeared and handed some guitar picks to the little boy.

And… that’s it. That was the end of the last show of Get Lucky’s North American leg.


I am finishing writing this post at approximately 1:40am. We are 121km away from Buffalo, NY—still undecided whether we spend the night in Buffalo or before it.

Driving through the boring I‐90 westbound, we’ve been playing Get Lucky twice. Very weird, listening to Border Reiver, Remembrance Day, Get Lucky, Monteleone and Piper to the End in their studio version, after listening to them being played live. If I could only have one wish for the next 59 shows, it would be to listen to either Before Gas & TV or So Far from the Clyde (or both) performed at least once.

Tomorrow, we’re returning the car at Buffalo Airport and taking a limo to Toronto airport, where Jeroen and I will bid each other goodbye as he departs to The Netherlands and I proceed to Toronto’s downtown area. A‐Ha is performing at Massey Hall tomorrow, and I have a couple of second‐row tickets; pretty excited.

On May 17 at the afternoon, I will be departing from Toronto towards Dublin. Hopefully, that crazy ash‐hole in Iceland cools down a little, otherwise I’ll have to swim to Dublin and it may take a few days. Until then, you can stop attempting to refresh this page as no new articles will be posted (comments, however, are most welcome).

Until Dublin… thank you all for the continued readership, and be well!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Concert Day: Circus Maximus (Caesar’s Palace), Atlantic City, NJ (May 8, 2010)

Considering this was Saturday, the fact that Atlantic City is two hours drive from Newark airport and that Nancy was going to drive us in her own car (featuring the EZ‐Pass device with which you skip long toll lines), today was a perfect day to stay in the room and do the minimum required for survival. After falling asleep relatively early yesterday (2:00am; for the first time this tour, I went to sleep before Jeroen did), I woke up at around 8:00am, still tired (I suspect my irregular sleeping pattern plus the increased caffeine intake may have something to do with it).

Answered quite a few emails and had to attend a few burning issues that came onto my plate.

Met with Nancy at around 11:00am. Three of us were hungry, but I guess everybody was too hungry to search for any sophisticated dining options. We ended up at the IHOP (International House of Pancakes, or, in some states, International House of Old People), about one minute walk from the hotel.

The IHOP specializes in pancakes (duh), providing you with way too many varieties of pancakes to choose from; they also offer other items such as burgers, sandwiches and pretty much whatever most American restaurants offer.

Looking through the menu, I realized that they had an entire page dedicated to “healthy picks”. Sounds interesting… so I thought, until I came to realize that most “healthy picks” come with something called “eggs substitute”. “Eggs substitute” can only mean “poison” to me, so that was the end of that.

The did have one reasonably healthy alternative—Harvest & Nuts—which blended quite impressively with peaches and strawberries. As starving as I was, I couldn’t finish more than one half (why most restaurants here strive to shove as much food as possible into people’s mouths, that I can’t understand).

Not very interesting, is it. Well, nothing really interesting happened during the first part of the day—I intended it to be boring in the first place. Too many things seem to be happening recently and it’s hard to keep track.

At around 3:00pm we left the hotel towards Atlantic City. Was weird to be in a non‐convertible car for the first time in over a month. Nancy has been quite the driver, driving through lanes filled with obnoxious and crazy drivers. Weather was sunny and pretty, however considerably windy which made it hard to keep the car stable on the road.

Two hours later, we arrived at Atlantic City; my first time here.

Atlantic City is the closest thing to Las Vegas that the east coast can offer; but the two are miles apart, and not only in physical distance.

I am not a big fan of gambling; been to Vegas about six or seven times already, out of which I played Blackjack for maybe two hours in total, with utter failure. I simply don’t get the same rush from gambling as other people do (some of which are very close friends of mine). But still, I enjoy Las Vegas a lot: endless options to dine; endless sights to see; people in all shapes and forms; and a feeling of total and complete freedom.

Atlantic City, on the other hand, gives a different feeling. I sensed it right as we arrived, and it took me about 20 minutes of deep thought to figure out what it is, and I can sum it up like this: In Las Vegas, you feel unbound and independent, while in Atlantic City you feel like you’re in a big mall.

Nothing is “wild” in Atlantic City; really, just a bunch of big hotels by the Atlantic Ocean (the boardwalk, though, is a nice walk). I’d take Las Vegas over Atlantic City as a vacation destination any day of the week.

The show took place at the Circus Maximus theatre, which is located inside Caesar’s Palace, one of the prominent resorts in Atlantic City—still, nowhere near in size and beauty to its Las Vegas counterpart. Not much to do inside either, unless you’re into gambling (although gambling action was pretty low too).


First task was to find a place to eat. Cafe Roma nearby the theatre has two parts—a cafe and a buffet‐style restaurant. You can only guess which one had a line‐up to it, and which one we ended up going to (hint: I wouldn’t be caught dead in a buffet‐style restaurant).

Not the best food in the world, let alone for the prices they’re asking. Jeroen ordered some tortellini with some kind of sauce, and got the opposite—a plate full of sauce with bits of tortellini swimming in it. My Reuben sandwich was swimming in cheese—I guess cheese goes with everything here in America. So I guess that Caesar’s Palace Atlantic City differs from its Las Vegas counterpart in food quality, as well.

Off to Starbucks (that’s the only coffee place we could find) for some decaf coffee for me. We took the boardwalk for that. We actually walked, contrary to some other people.


Another hour passed by and we went to the theatre’s box office to collect our tickets.

Rows AA and BB for this concert were not sold through a channel open to the general public; that I know for sure, as Nancy verified that fact against the box office. Why was it like that? I can’t tell with 100% assurance, however Nancy is convinced that the best seats in the house—when the “house” is a casino resort—are often given to “high rollers” (namely, people who make the resort richer by losing more money than others) as some sign of appreciation for their continuing business. So, for the second time this tour, people were sitting between the stage and me.

At 8:50pm, the band took the stage and the concert started.

The first two rows, being mostly empty during the opening act, filled‐up quickly once the band took the stage. The last ones to enter the second row were a mature couple, sitting right in front of us, who reeked from perfume (her) and cologne (him; or was it the other way around? who knows. You can never know these days). Seemed as if the two were doing experiments in their room as to who can spend more time underwater while in a bath filled with perfume.

Breathing became a tricky concept.

At the front row, an important looking guy was seated at the centre along with his lovely wife. He made sure to show us all that he feels at home: one foot on the stage during most of the show, arm around his wife / girlfriend, beer on the stage as well (within safe distance of the foot though; you wouldn’t want to knock it down and spill the beer all over the equipment—why waste beer?). That very same bloke later started video‐recording the show using his BlackBerry; surprisingly enough, the finger of death has not been employed towards him (or the other 3 or 4 recorders I was able to track from where I was seated). Here he is, towards the end of the show. Note the beer at the right‐hand side:


My previous experience with concerts taking place in casinos were terrible. This time, however, it was different. Other than one severely drunk individual at the back, who howled random song names at Mark after each song, the crowd was actually of the quieter crowd I’ve seen so far this tour.

Well, maybe “quiet” isn’t be the right word; “disinterested” was more like it. I found it pretty puzzling when, just after Speedway at Nazareth, most of the occupants of the second row simply vanished and it remained mostly empty. Occasionally, someone from the back rows would notice the vacant row, approach forward and gambled on the seat remaining empty till the end of the show—which, for the most part, was exactly what happened.

While the concert by itself was good, it wasn’t great. It couldn’t have been great, if only for the fact that there was no real “connection” between the band and the audience. As I wrote above, while Knopfler fans did exist there, still a large part of the audience appear to be completely disinterested, often interrupting others with their repeated entries and exits to and from the hall (again, for beer), chatting, howling random noises.

That was the last concert for Nancy to attend. So sad that our ways have to part tomorrow morning, but what can you do. Thanks Nancy for everything, it was great spending time with you!


I slept half way through the ride back to the hotel, ready to take on some good night sleep before the last concert of the North American tour, tomorrow in Albany, NY.