I got to see Mark Knopfler for the first time last night. This was a big deal for me. I first heard Mark in Dire Straits with the HUGE 'Brothers in Arms' album ('Money for Nothing', 'Walk of Lif'e, and 'Brothers in Arms'... were all huge hits). I must have heard 'Sultans of Swing' beforehand, but 'Brothers in Arms' was jaw-dropping.
I've followed the man ever since. He's a superb guitarist, and startlingly subtle for a guitar hero... 'Money for Nothing' excepted. He has also developed into a great songwriter. 'Golden Heart' and 'A Night In Summer Long Ago' are both beautiful love songs from his first solo album. The title song from the new album 'Sailing to Philadelphia' is a neat duet about charting the Mason-Dixon Line with Knopler as Jeremiah Dixon and James Taylor as Charlie Mason.
The other factor that endears me to the man's his breadth of interest in American roots music. From the start, he has always had blues & country as strong influences. A duet album with Chet Atkins being a good example of the latter. And a side project with some buddies, The Knotting Hillbillies, covers territory from blues, gospel, bluegrass, worksongs, and old folk tunes. Michael Doucet and Sonny Landreth joined him for the cajun-tinged 'Je Suis Desole'. Not bad for a Scotish boy...
Getting back to the point... Mark played DAR Constitution Hall last night. He played to a very supportive crowd... I'd say an overly supportive one. I wasn't the biggest fan in the crowd. Yet, it was a good show, but not the earth shattering one I was hoping for.
The band was very talented. In addition to Mark, there were two guitarists, one of whom also played fiddle, mandolin, and harmonica. One keyboard player doubled on guitar and the other was a startling organist and a fine accordionist. We also had a drummer and bass player (both acoustic & electric) and a guitar-tech working his butt off supplying Mark with a fresh guitar each song, and often multiple within the song.
The set list ranged from 'Sultans of Swing' from the begginning of the Dire Straits run to Mark's Solo work and the latest album and one new song. It was all done well, though the sound early on needed work. The crowd went nuts for the big hits but enjoyed the other stuff too.
We got a solid single set with three encore songs. It was a fun show. But I wish it was a bit less staged. I wish he'd have just stood up there and played.