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MARK KNOPFLER review - Shangri-La tour
M.E.N Arena
26 May 2005

Mark Knopfler - Live In Concert playing guitar.

Mark Knopfler -
live
in concert

Can it really be twenty years since the last time I last saw Mark Knopfler? He was then - the front man of Dire Straits raising the roof of the Manchester Apollo.

With this vague memory of two lost decades still reeling around my head, I took my seat at the M.E.N Arena - brimming full of nostalgic anticipation. Just before 8pm the house lights went down and Knopfler and band made their entrance. Due to a slight technical fault with Richard Bennett's guitar, we were treated to an extended intro for the opening number 'Why Aye Man'.

 

The unmistakeable sound of 'Walk Of Life' was the next song. I really didn't expect to hear this track so early in the playlist - but it still sounds as good as it did back in 1985!

 

The forth song in the set, was a track I was hoping to hear - 'Sailing To Philadelphia'.
This masterpiece about Mason and Dixon was sung in full by Knopfler and appeared to be slightly slower than the album track; although this didn't matter.

I could listen to the next song in the evening's performance - 'Romeo and Juliet' all evening! Knopfler performed it flawlessly and I was amazed how he didn't sound in the least bit tired of it, even after all these years.

We didn't have time to return from our nostalgic trance before we were next treated to the unmistakable intro to 'The Sultans Of Swing' - once again - note perfect, but I did miss some of the vocal harmonies that were for some reason omitted.

Knopfler brought us more up to date with 'Done With Bonaparte' and then as a three piece with 'Song For Sonny Liston' taken from the album 'Shangri-La.
After 'Rüdiger' the three piece shrunk down to just Mark Knopfler and Richard Bennett for a while as this little laid back interval saw them perform the catchy number - 'All That Matters'.

As the applause died down, Knopfler gave the announcement: "Here's a song about fast food" and the strongest song from 'Shangri-La' thundered out next - 'Boom, Like That.' Things really took off after that track, but I was not prepared next for the most phenomenal version of 'Telegraph Road' I'd ever heard - Who needs Dire Straits I thought to myself. Throughout the evening it had become very apparent to me that Mark Knopfler's fingers had not aged as much as his appearance had in the past twenty years. His guitar playing was as incredible as it always had been when; he amongst others inspired me to take guitar lessons myself in the 1980's.

He deserved the short interval he took next. Enough time for us all to catch our breath saw him return - this time wearing a red, short- sleeved shirt; but could he pick up where he left off I wondered? The emotionally charged 'Brothers In Arms' sent shivers down my back; all I needed to complete my evening at this point would have been 'Money For Nothing' and guess what was next? Who can resist singing: "I want my MTV"? As the two hour mark approached we were reminded of the writing skills Knopfler will always possess with the classic song 'So Far Away From Me'.

In 1985 Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits performed the most amazing end to a concert I have ever seen. A simple trick of Knopfler playing 'The Theme To Local Hero' as the band left the stage one by one; the house lights came on and he still played on; the roadies started packing away and he even then - he still played on!
Unfortunately we were only treated to a shorted version of 'Local Hero' this time, but who could complain about that after such a memorable evening?

It was a huge shame the venue didn't have a large screen for people at the back. It would have been nice to see fingers moving at lightning speed and facial expressions etc - but the sound quality was superb. All instruments were crystal clear, demonstrating how Knopfler has surrounded himself with very fine musicians - more than capable of recreating the Dire Straits sound.

Was I inspired to get the old Fender Strat out of the loft? - You bet!

Review by Steve Bennett.

 

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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