It’s been ten years since I last saw him live, and in some respects the set wasn’t a lot different, bar a wider repertoire of solo material– fortunately he does at least now seem to be over his pedal steel guitar phase, which started with the last couple of Straits albums, and bled into his first solo outings. Otherwise the staging and arrangements haven’t changed much in a decade, which isn’t a bad thing, just a little surprising. I was a tad disappointed that Private Investigations didn’t feature this time around, but we did get a satisfyingly-rousing version of the epic Telegraph Road instead (although the pianist did sound a bit like he was playing it out the Alchemy song book– the tinkly bits on the Money for Nothing version remain the definitive ones for me…)
Modern-day critics often look back sneeringly on Dire Straits, but as somebody who was learning to play guitar finger-style at the time while most kids were happy to go the plectrum-and-power-chords route, their omnipresence (and of course, Mark Knopfler’s in particular) proved to be a big influence for me. He might never really look like he’s trying, and he still sings about as well as Bob Dylan on a bad day, but I could have listened to him all night.