No, he didn't play "Money for Nothing" and that was a good thing. Because though that song may be his most famous, Mark Knopfler is a long, long way from the '80's heyday of Dire Straits. And he's a better, more original, honest musician for it.
Joe loves Mark Knopfler, his solo work and his work with Dire Straits. My dad also loves Mark Knopfler. I vividly remember being 10 or 11 and staring at the cover art on the cassette tape of the Brothers in Arms album, sitting in the backseat of my dad's Nissan Maxima. With that beautiful National guitar on the cover, we'd sing along to "Walk of Life", "So Far Away" and of course "Money for Nothing", which was in heavy video rotation on MTV at the time. So when Joe heard that Knopfler was starting a tour last year, through the Mark Knopfler fan club, which of course Joe is a member of, we had the chance to buy tickets before the general public. And was that the best idea ever? Absolutely. Because we bought the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th seats that went on sale. We sat front row, center, 8 feet from Mr. Knopfler. And while the concert was amazing, the most thrilling and enjoyable part was sitting between my husband and my dad, both with glowing, giddy smiles plastered on their faces for the three hour show.
Joe and I started the evening off trying to grab dinner at our favorite downtown restaurant, The Bristol, for their cheap happy hour specials. We weren't the only concert goers to have this idea. It was packed.
So we headed down the street to Gordon Biersch, home of potent garlic fries and home brewed beer. We sat outside overlooking the Power and Light District, the weather was mild and sunny. The food was tasty. I had a couple of garlic fries, but didn't want to reek like a Transylvanian the rest of the night, so I mostly focused on the indulgent Hawaiian Kobe burger sitting in front of me. Joe helped me polish it off, but it was yummy and diet busting.
citrusgirl, from our 7 days Flickr photo group. Joe is now a minor celebrity in the Flickr-verse. She just happened to be in town from Georgia for the night, visiting a friend, and recognized Joe from his fantastic 7 days shots. Small world! We felt like Bethany, meeting the internets one person at a time.
And then we headed off to the concert, my dad and Kristy were meeting us there, their hectic work schedules had forced them to come a little later, but Dad made it right around the opening act and Kristy made it only about a 1/2 hour into the main show.
And here comes the music. Oh, the music.
The opening act was a young singer-song writer, Pieta Brown, a good Midwestern girl who plays a mean guitar and writes beautiful country tinged folk, rock songs. Yeah all of those genres, kind of mixed up and mellowed out. Pieta played with Bo Ramsey, a well respected guitarist and record producer, whose facial expression alone would have been entertaining, even without his massive guitar skills.
Speaking of massive guitar skills, after a solid 45 minute set from Brown and Ramsey, Mark Knopfler and his band took the stage. And they dominated that stage, all eight musicians. There were more than twenty different instruments: multiple guitars, tiny guitar, turtle shaped guitar, National guitar, lute, banjo, mandolin, bass guitar, upright bass, piano, flute, pipes, keyboards, and drums. And on and on, but not overdone. Just consummate musicians performing perfectly executed gorgeous songs together. The energy, the passion, the skill and sheer pleasure they obviously got from standing on that stage and playing together was visible and so fun. I haven't been to see live music in awhile and somehow I'd forgotten how much I love feeling that thumping music inside not just my ears, but my whole body. Surrounded by the music, the energy of the crowd, the passion of the performers, the gorgeous historic theater, everything just fit together like a perfect puzzle.
And I'll just borrow from better writers and reviewers than myself here: The New York Times remarked that that Knopfler “radiates wariness and maturity as well as poise,” while USA Today called it “full of ripe, haunting melodies and gently vital, folksy arrangements that showcase his robust and lyrical guitar work.” True. They switched skillfully from gentle folk story-telling ballads to those raucous 80's classics. And the crowd loved every minute of it. And so did we.
Of course there were the requisite rich, drunk old dudes with their pocket size blond trophy wives, sitting next to us, clapping, hooting, and growling when no one else was. But isn't that to be expected? Isn't that the fun of seeing live music, the crowds? The crazy masses, the fanatical fans? The drunk dudes certain that they are Mark's biggest fan, know all the lyrics, connect personally with Mark, have so much in common. When you are sitting in the front row this is only intensified. Even I got a little giddy from making eye contact with the musicians and getting a smile or a nod. Cause that's cool, because they are cool, because they are so damn talented. And I'm not too old to admit that. This was a fantastic concert. Today, still basking in the glow from last night, I signed up for the email newsletter for several of my favorite bands. Get ready, baby, we're going to more concerts!