Mark Knopfler at 3Arena, Dublin – Review & Photos
23 years after calling time on Dire Straits, the band that he took to the amazing heights of success, Mark Knopfler finds himself playing the old time music that he professed to truly love. Therein lies a problem, I imagine, for a large portion of the crowd. For such an iconic musician, it’s difficult to distance yourself from the music that set you apart from everyone else in the first place, but this appears to be what Mark Knopfler has been keen to do since the breakup of Dire Straits. Knopfler has written some of the finest songs in the history of popular music but tonight we’re only offered four reminders of this fact.
Having said that, the show offers value for money for the 7,000, or so, crowd. Clocking in at about two and a half hours, the set is a mixture of songs from his solo repertoire with the odd historical classic thrown in. The problem is, I imagine the crowd would have preferred a shorter set with a few more familiar songs thrown in. If you can get beyond the fact that he’s not prepared to rest on past glories then it’s a very entertaining set. The music is thoroughly enjoyable, being a fine mixture of blues, folk, rock’n’roll and jazz with a large helping of celtic influence thrown in for good measure.
The show kicked off with ‘Broken Bones’, one of the standout tracks from his latest album Tracker. The celtic tinged ‘Privateering’ was another early highlight. Most of the set consisted of extended jams with his talented backing band and Knopfler was happy to let his supporting musicians have their moment in the limelight. Another problem though, is that this type of show doesn’t translate well in the cavernous setting of a place like the 3Arena. Really, you would want to see a show like this in the Olympia Theatre or a Vicar Street type setting for maximum return on what is essentially an intimate performance. Knopfler was joined on stage by Australian/Canadian singer Ruth Moody for a couple of numbers, but it wasn’t until we heard the familiar strains of the steel guitar sound of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that the crowd really sprang into life. This is what they came to hear. Followed by a rendition of ‘Sultans of Swing’, things were starting to liven up a bit. The distinctive sound and finger picking style that Knopfler has made his own is joyous to listen to. His technical ability married to his feeling on guitar makes him a truly distinctive musician and a joy to behold. The show settled back into a familiar feel with ‘Mighty Man’ from the Tracker album followed by a few more solo numbers. Things moved up a notch again with a marvelous rendition of ‘Telegraph Road’ rounding out the set.
Knopfler has the appearance of a rock star growing old gracefully, even down to his workmanlike attire, unlike a lot of his contemporaries. And there’s no denying the crowd’s devotion to the artist, with numerous cries of ‘We love you, Mark’ heard throughout the show, further evidenced by the rush to the front of the stage when he returned for the encores. We were treated to ‘So Far Away’ when he came back on stage but the rest of the encore was rather flat, being rounded off with a version of ‘Going Home: Theme from Local Hero’, when really it was screaming out for a ‘Tunnel of Love’ or ‘Money for Nothing’. Oh well, we can only live in hope. Having said that, he got a standing ovation from the crowd and the show can only be judged a triumph by the audience reaction at the end of the night.
Review by Tony Martin
Photos by Tudor Marian