I bought my first CD player back in the summer of 1992 while living in Toronto. And then I did what everyone else did who was getting those new-fangled audio devices, I joined a CD Club. BMG I think it was.
At some point during that membership, I bought Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ CD. All I knew about Dire Straits were the songs ‘Money For Nothing’ and ‘Sultans of Swing’. I had no idea that ‘Money for Nothing’ was the song I’d like least on that album, and no idea that that album would change my life. I didn’t know who Mark Knopfler was either.
I listened to that album a lot over the next few years. I fell in love with the song ‘Telegraph Road’ because of the story it told. I wrote my stories, and listened to the stories in that song, and on that album, and I truly appreciated the affect that a song or a story could have on someone. I’m sure that that album had a lot to do with me writing my very first novel, and seeing it through to the end.
A few years ago I bought another Dire Straits CD - ‘On Every Street’. When I found out that Mark Knopfler, the lead singer, had gone out on his own, I started buying his CD’s. I went through a phase where I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, and I listened to the way he played, and the way guys like Lindsey Buckingham played, and I though I knew I’d never play like that, I at least grew in my appreciation for the skill involved to not only write those story songs, but to play with such feeling, and such heart.
Last night, for the first time, I got to see Mark Knopfler Live on Stage at the Moore Theater in Seattle. I paid an exorbitant sum for the best seat I could find – Row A Seat 5 on the left aisle. I was a little disappointed in the the seat… I couldn’t see part of the band because a speaker blocked my view, and I had to sit a little sideways in my seat to see the whole stage.
But the performance did not disappoint. It amazed. I was 30 feet from Knopfler, and I could watch his fingers move on the strings like I had always imagined they would. And the songs they played! Oh the songs! They started with ‘Border Reiver’, then ‘What it Is’, and covered a bunch of crowd favorites from some albums over the past few years. But then he broke out some old stuff, and the crowd went nuts. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ got the first standing ovation of the night. There was an air of anticipation after that. Woukd they playy any other oldies? When the band started into ‘Sultans of Swing’, pure pandemonium. I got the feeling that they don’t play those songs very often on tour anymore, but I could be wrong. Who knew that was just the beginning?
First though, I’m a crowd watcher at these things, and I watch the band as well. The crowd was in a state of euphoria like I have never seen before, The people at the front are not those who are out for a casual concert. These are devoted fans, who know their stuff. And every one of them had a giant grin on their face. Feet were tapping (I couldn’t stop mine for 2 hours). Hands were clapping, people were singing along and just mesmerized by the talent on stage. And not just Knopfler. Everyone in the band was an amazing musician. Some played 5 or 6 different instruments during the concert, some instruments I can’t even name.
He wrapped up the concert with ‘Telegraph Road’. ‘Telegraph Road’ is eight minutes long on the album, and it was at least that on stage. The crowd went insane. The band took their bows, and the crowd demanded an encore. We got 4 absolutely amazing songs. ‘Brothers in Arms’, an instrumental, ‘My Shangri La’ and ‘Piper to the End’ to wrap it up. There may have been a fifth, but I lost track.
I never thought I would see ‘Sultans of Swing’ live. I hoped for ‘Romeo and Juliet’, but seeing Knopfler play ‘Brothers in Arms’, and ‘Telegraph Road’, all in one night, is something that I think few fans ever get to see. I am so glad I went, and I wish I could go again tonight. But I’m not driving to Portland tonight, not on 4 hours of sleep.
Last night was one of those moments in time that I will remember for the rest of my life. I might not remember ever song, but I will remember just how joyous it was, and what it was like to get sucked up in the excitement, and to put your hands in the air and clap and cheer for someone until your hands hurt and your voice was gone, because they have just put it all out there and you never dreamed your get that when you plunked down your money for a ticket.
The greatest thing was watching how much Knopfler still loves to play. The guy in the seat next to me leaned over and said, “He’s not doing it for the money.” and I agreed. There was heart in the music. Knopfler would close his eyes and scrunch up his face when the guitar solos got difficult, and he put it all into it. The man can play.
I bought a ticket to a concert. I received a memory to last a lifetime.