Monday, August 01, 2005

Mark Knopfler Live

"And 'twas a ticket I was looking for
On Every Street"
- Shamelessly ripping off Dire Straits' On Every Street

A fortnight of trying for a ticket to Mark Knopfler's sold out show yielded no return. After resigning myself to missing out, a chance email on a company mailing list on Friday helped me strike gold. Singing praises to a kind-hearted person who sold a lone ticket to me at cost, I made my way to Chateau St. Michelle Winery's open-air amphitheater on Saturday night to catch the man live in concert.

Jimi Hendrix I believe has the official moniker of Guitar God. In the polytheistic religion of music, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani et al have all been given this title at different places by different devotees. Like Hirak before me, I bow to Mark Knopfler, the finger- picking Sultan of Swing.

The setting was perfect. A bright, sunny day with nary a cloud in sight. Mount Rainier on the horizon. The sweat was dripping down my back as I made my way to sit down at a good location. Copious amounts of water was consumed, and restlessness set in as an attempt was made to pass the time.

The opening act was William Topley, who played a middling set of folk-country/rock numbers. Honestly, I was too pumped up in anticipation to really even listen with much interest. As the support crew set up the variety of guitars on a stand next to the stage, I enviously eyed the VIP pass holders who had a straight-up view of the stage. I managed to make my way through and find a place on the fringe, where I could stand within around 10 metres of the stage.

As the man himself made it on stage, I couldn't help but wonder that in his plain white shirt,jeans and glasses, he looked more like an avuncular professor of English than the virtuoso master who once set stadiums alight with his guitar. He launched into Why Aye Men, followed by the immediate crowd-pleaser Walk Of Life.

I'm a big Dire Straits fan, and haven't heard much of his solo work (barring Sailing to Philadelphia) . But the trademark plucking in What it is followed by the beautiful songwriting of Sailing to Philadelphia set the tone. Romeo and Juliet was followed by Sultans of Swing which brought the house down as expected. It was followed by a set of band introductions, and a set of songs from his solo albums (Bonaparte, followed by a couple I don't know). He showed off his slide guitar skills on one of them, and Bonaparte had some interesting Ukulele by his guitarist. Seeing him with his tea up on stage was funny, but it kind of set the tone for the concert, which was more like a relaxed summer event than a ba!!s-out rock show.

Then Boom Like That, his current single all over radio followed by Speedway at Nazareth. Then, of course, my personal favorite - Telegraph Road. Hearing that characteristic guitar riff at the beginning of the song was my Goosebump Moment Of the Day.

The encore included more Straits staples, Brothers in Arms, Money for Nothing and So Far Away From Me.

All in all, an evening worth remembering. Gripes as always - no Portobello Belle, no Twisting By the Pool or Down To The Waterline. No Private Investigations. Can't help it with a body of work as accomplished as that, I guess.

As a college-goer, I had two ambitions in life - to play the guitar like Mark Knopfler, and to dance like John Travolta. I am nowhere close to accomplishing any of them. But life is good. I saw a God in the flesh, and he looks like a quiet professor of English. Until he picks up the guitar , that is.

I'll try to get a setlist up, but it looks suspiciously identical to the one Hirak has here. I'm guessing there isn't much variation across shows. No cameras or recording was allowed (venue policy, more likely than not). The official website has info on concert downloads being available.


cathy said...

2 bad I couldn't join dire straits myself

Hirak said...

Great that you could make it! And I, like you, wished he had played Down to the Waterline.

Ajay said...

Cathy, it would have been nice to have some company. I end up going alone often because none of my friends are that interested in rock music.

Hirak: Yes. Though I cannot complain - he did play my favorite "Telegraph Road"

Just me.. said...

U had me at Sailing to Philadelphia...that is divine..I wanted to play like that too..ofcourse its meh!!