16 May 2015
Reviewed by Debbie Tasker
Synonymous for the band Dire Straits he formed in 1977 with brother David, Mark Knopfler is ranked 28th guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, a place I feel he well and truly deserves.
His entrance onto the stage for Saturday night’s concert at the M.E.N arena was smooth and understated. With no airs and graces he walks over to the mic and begins to play. Now aged 65 and looking every inch the rock star dressed in jeans, black t-shirt and white unbuttoned shirt he oozes charisma.
My all-time favourite love song is Romeo and Juliet so I was more than excited at the prospect of hearing him perform it live! The Dire Straits 1985 album ‘Brothers in Arms’ is a firm favourite of mine, in fact I still have my vinyl copy and play it often.
As the name of the tour suggests there is a lot of Knopflers’ solo work performed with a very impressive backing band. I am not, I have to admit, very familiar with quite a lot of these numbers that are a mixture of blues, celtic rock and country all of which suit his gruff husky almost instantly recognisable voice. The trademark flicks and superb guitar riffs are made to look effortless yet sound out of this world.
A few tracks in we are introduced to Ruth Moody who provides backing vocals for the hauntingly beautiful Kingdom of Gold. I think we will be seeing and hearing a lot more from this very talented young lady. The catchy tune ‘Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes’ follows and it is clear to see where his heart lies music wise.
Nigel Hitchcock comes onto the stage and is described as the best saxophone player I have ever heard and maybe you have too by Knopfler – and I have to agree with him. As he starts to play the opening notes from Romeo and Juliet an excited gasp ripples through the auditorium and I am in my element listening to it live! Just amazing. The ever popular ‘Sultans of Swing’ has the crowd singing along, up to this point I felt it was a very solemn audience with little atmosphere but they came alive after this.
As we come towards the end of the evening another Dire Straits track ‘So Far Away From Me’ is performed and to finish the apt ‘Going Home’ which is the theme tune for the 1983 film local Hero has everyone on their feet in appreciation of such a fantastic concert.
Throughout the evening the band are given time in the limelight to show their individual talents as Mark Knopfler steps back. I love him even more now than I did before! The man is a musical genius.
Definitely a concert tour not to miss!