PS's music blog (for want of a better name!)

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mark Knopfler

Just back from the Knopfler concert. Its 3 in the night so pardon my drowsiness if it shows up!
Dire Straits has long been my favourite alltime band and Mark Knopfler is one of my favourite musicians of all time. And today I got the chance to watch him live, so it was a cool occasion.
The venue was different in many ways, I've never before been to a rock concert of this kind. The venue was Radio City at NYC,

which happens to be a proper indoor auditorium, and we had seat numbers and the crowd was dignified and quiet, hardly the kind you see at rock concerts. Lot of essential elements of a rock concert were missing today, like pushing your way to the front of the crowd right next to the stage, headbanging, singing out aloud to the lyrics of the song.. Nonetheless the fact that it was Mark Knopfler live made up for all else. On to the concert itself.

The opening act was a Elvis-style guitarist-singer called Bap Kennedy, and another guy who played the slide guitar.

They played for half an hour and they were very mediocre. Still there was no booing from the crowd. This is just one example of the kind of crowd that was there today. Usually in rock concerts, opening acts are meant to be booed, even if they were amazingly talented. Antaragni (my favourite local band at Bangalore) got booed when they opened for Deep Purple at Bangalore. And today we had this mediocre band opening for none other than Mark Knopfler and yet getting applauses. Anyways, on to the real concert.

The guitar god finally made his entrance around 8:45, and started right away with Why Aye man. Unfortunately I already knew the song list that was to be performed today. There's a certain unpredictability and excitement involved in waiting for the next song and guessing what it could be, which was missing today. And my other crib is that I knew in advance that they were not going to play Tunnel of Love. Somehow Mark Knopfler seems to have this soft corner for his newer non-Dire Straits songs, and it was evident today. Let me describe the concert song by song, in order (I might have missed a song or two though).

Why Aye Man:
Uptempo song to start the show. But a Dire Straits song would have been a better opener. Didnt really have the effect of swinging the crowd to action. And the song was just like the album-version, no improvisation.

Walk of Life:
Now this is the kind of song that infuses adrenalin into the audience. Knopfler promptly changed his guitar for this song, throughout the concert he was changing guitars, with atleast 5 different guitars in all. For this song he picked a red stereotypical guitar.

But again, the song was not all that long, and no improvisation.

What It Is:
This song is my favourite among the non-Dire Straits songs of his. His version today was peppy with a bit of an extended solo.

Sailing to Philadelphia:
I think this is one rare song in which Mark Knopfler really sings, he actually croons in this song. Normally he just talks in his songs, his guitar does all the singing for him. This song was one rare extreme where he actually sings. The other extreme I think is exemplified in Private Investigations where he literally just talks. (He didnt play Private Investigations today BTW). Good piano in this song.

After this song there was a brief piano interlude which was amazing but I could not recognize that the song was ...

Romeo and Juliet:
After that amazing piano intro, the song was played in the normal way. This song is my third favourite Dire Straits number (after Brothers in Arms and Tunnel of Love). This song today was one of the highlights. He changed his guitar again for this song.

Sultans of Swing:
One classic followed by another. This is the song that brought the crowd to its feet. The extended lead, though not as good as some other versions he has performed earlier, was mesmerizing nonetheless. This song has special significance to me as its the first Dire Straits song that I ever heard, some 8 years back. (After this song I had heard Money for Nothing and Walk of Life, but it was a while (2nd year of undergrad) when I really got into this band). At the end of this song the applause was just awesome. Shows that this is easily the crowd favourite song.

This song was followed by a whole lot of non-Dire Straits songs, the first one I havent heard before, the next was Song for Sunny Liston, followed by Rudiger. Rudiger had some amazing keyboards. That was followed by another unheard song which was followed by Speedway to Nazareth. This song is just an ok song, but it features an amazing drum solo in the middle of the song, and the extended lead at the end by Knopfler is reminiscent of the good old Dire Straits classics, esp Telegraph Road.
The next song was Boom, Like that. The song is about Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, and I feel its a pretty strange theme to base a song on. Anywayz..

Telegraph Road:
This was the real highlight of the whole concert. The song went on for a good ~10 minutes, and featured an amazing piano solo, and a heavily improvized guitar solo by Knopfler. Easily the pick of the night, the energy in this song was tremendous, and for a 55 year old it was just amazing! At the end of the song, the audience was just on their feet.

After this song Knopfler did a brief walking-away act but before the crowd really shouted for an encore he was back, so what follows I dont know if it can be called an encore.

Brothers in Arms:
This is my favourite Dire Straits song. The guitaring in this song is just amazingly intense, it feels like he is speaking through his guitar. His guitaring style in this song is very atypical of him, its more David Gilmour style guitaring, slow yet intense. He did a bit of an extended lead but not that long. But it was still quite electrifying!

Money for Nothing:
This song featured a lot of improvizations, I heard a solo in the middle of this song which I have never heard before in any of his concerts. By the end of this song the mood among the audience had reached a high.

So Far Away:
Another classic. But sadly he did not play it that long and it sounded just like the album version.

Hardly a song that befits a position as last song in a Mark Knopfler concert. But again, it just shows his soft corner for his recent albums, and considering this current tour of his is called Shangri-la, we cant complain. The song was good, but not half as good as the songs just before it.

Sadly the concert came to an end with this song. I was quite surprised, rather shocked that the audience did not even shout for an encore. If they did, Im sure he'd have played Local Hero, a perfect concert closing song, but sadly that was not to be!

Nonetheless the concert was an amazing experience, and for hardcore fans of Dire Straits, just the oppotunity to see the guitar god in person is equivalent to ecstacy. And thats just the ecstacy I got to experience today.

I took a whole lot of cool videos of the concert but uploading them shall happen some other day.

After the concert we went to this cool Forrest Gump-themed restaurant called Bubba Gump.

The menu card there was in the shape of a pingpong bat. And there was this board that said Run Forrest Run

and if we upturned it, it would read Stop Forrest Stop,

which is an indication for the waiter to come to our table.
Pretty cool restaurant.
And now I must stop as its late in the night and I got to go to work tomorrow.

Crossposted in rfc9000


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