Readers of this blog will surely remember my comment on Get Lucky, the latest release … no, the latest studio album of Mark Knopfler. The latest release is Alchemy, a Dire Straits concert from 1983. My wife and me had tickets for Mr. Knopflers solo concert in Frankfurt on June 7th, 2010 – and here is what happened!
Firstly, a few words from the management: “The official position on the question of the publication of set lists for the Get Lucky tour is that set lists should not be published in respect of Mark’s wish to create a sense of surprise for people coming to the shows”.
I will respect this wish and not publish the setlist here … today. It will follow later, after the tour in a comment to this article. Please keep checking.
Talking about wishes: another wish of MK was announced before the show. Please don’t disturbe other guests of the concert by using flash lights and recording equipment. I can reveal, that 99,99% of the attendees respected this wish.
Let’s start a bit earlier. It was a hot day with humid air. Not the best thing to me, but at least a hint that it is summer. I’ve seen Knopfler a lot of times – and nearly always we had this sort of weather. We boarded our car around 18:00 and drove to Frankfurt. It’s an easy drive down the Autobahn and within a few blinks of an eye we arrived in a parking lot below the Messehalle 1. East of the Festhalle we could see the trucks of the band, along with buses of the crew. A few Mercedes limousines were parked there, too.
The hour between arrival and begin of the show passed by like a second. We walked to the stage and checked the instruments: two Hammonds, a few dozens (!) stringed instruments, drums, effect boards of the two guitarists … actually, I know music stores which have not much more instruments in stock 🙂
Our seats were quite in the back. I was sceptical about this places as to the quality of sound. But I couldn’t order tickets sooner, because my job simply doesn’t allow to book nearly a year in advance. When I ordered the tickets, the Festhalle was already nearly sold out. Our seats were quite far away from the stage, but on the other hand, we had crowd of people sitting below us: a perfect sight.
Okay, let’s move to the show.
Knopfler has back problems, therefore he is playing guitar seated. During the first song he was obviously feeling a bit uncomfortably. He kept turning around in his chair, checking all the other musicians. The sound was already good, with a few bass notes being too much pronounced.
Song two: Knopfler gained confindence. His solos got stronger with every note. The sound got better than the Festhalle can deliver. I’ve heard bands play there with the sound that was horrible. Knopfler has Dave Dixon and high level equipment – and the sound is superb. You know, not too loud (no hearing problems after the show) but loud enough. Good dynamics. The different instruments didn’t drown, each one could be located in the sound spectrum at any time. This is simply perfect for a show of that size (7,500 listeners!). This makes it easy for the crowd to connect to the musicians, as the contribution of each musicians is audible.
The crowd got more and more excited with every note and the band reacted to that. My wife and me both felt something special happening. You know, musicians on that level don’t fail. You can go to a show and will always see a show very well worth the money. But tonight, it was more than that.
Without telling too much about the setlist, I like to say, that we as listeners nearly made the Festhalle fall to pieces after Sultans of Swing. I have heard the song many times, but it was really great this time. I love the extended versions of the song, this one was the shorter one. But it was played on the level of the Alchemy show!
Having said that, I have to point out, that Knopfler played only a few Dire Straits songs. He doesn’t have to this in solo concerts as he has great solo material to chose from! E.g., I love songs such as “Done with Bonaparte” (which I can’t stop playing on my various guitars since 1996) or “Je suis Desole”, “What it is”, “Get Lucky” to name just a few of the many.
My point: the Frankfurt show this year put all the songs, whether solo or from DS days, on the same level. And it was an extremely high level! Dynamics and energy – everthing one could dream of.
The musicians of this line-up are masters of their instruments.
We have the “core band”: Richard Bennett, guitars; Guy Fletcher, keyboards; Matt Rollings, keyboards; Danny Cummings, drums; Glenn Word, “Big upstanding instrument” and other bass guitars; Mark Knopfler, guitar, vocals;
And we have the two guest musicians: John McCusker and Goodwin. They are multi-instrumentalists and add a celtic touch. Of course, this is important for the material of the last two solo records.
The show ended after more than 2 hours. Given Knopflers condition, this is a good value. The show did not end with “Local Hero” as an encore but with a younger song, which is a perfect successor.
Please read also the musicians comments on: