Now, let’s see… two hours forty minutes, three encores, Mark and the band in great shape. You’re going to enjoy this tour!
The Johannesburg venue seats about 3 500 and it has been sold out for two months – two nights here and the promoter said he could have sold five times the tickets.
The stage is set with Matt’s organ & piano to the left, Chad’s big kit up and centre with Guy’s control room to the right and Richard’s guitars and pedal board in front of him. Centre stage are the two orange Marshall 4x12 stacks and Mark’s Ernie Ball pedal. Richard has a bouzouki!
The crowds are still coming in at 20:00, so the show starts a little late – ten minutes. Mindless mood music gives way to silence, darkness and then the band appear.
Why Aye Man is the kick off song. Richard providing great off-beat strumming on that bouzouki. MK (Les Paul) into a long solo – something like TR in the early days. The crowd get into the gig.
Walk of life follows with Matt on the accordion. Next: What it is, introduced as a ‘song about Edinburgh’ and Mark gives us a beautiful long guitar section.
The next song is about two guys. Mark takes up the red Strat and Richard finger picks Sailing to Philadelphia. Guy and Glen provide the first wonderful vocal harmonies of the evening – not the last.
Then a song written in South Africa – great roar from the crowd. Mark says he was here a few years back and had a great time – bough some wine – drank it all. You guys have got a real problem here, her says, your wine is too good!. Sitting at the dry dock in Cape Town, Mark wrote The Trawlerman’s Song. The brown/black Fender does duty and Matt provides accordion.
Lights down. Piano/organ intro – which one will it be? We catch the glint of the National guitar, Richard has the bouzouki again – it’s Romeo & Juliet, just as good as ever it was. And then, to the total delight of the crowd who clearly wanted as much Dire Straits as they could get, Mark took the red Strat and it was Sultans – as good as I have even heard or seen it. They all seemed to be having a really good time and the crowd went crazy. At the end, Mark took a towel, wiped himself and said that they had to calm down a bit.
Again, lights out, some shuffling and when they came up again there was Chad’s small DW kit on the left, Glen had his double bass in hand, Mark had the National again and Richard had the bouzouki again. “OK Richard, it’s you to start…” Bonaparte.
“OK Richard, it’s you and me again and the girls will follow on behind…” A Night in Summer” with Mark and Richard duetting on their respective guitars. Very beautiful music.
Dark. Shuffle. Chair. MK sitting down with the Les Paul. Song for Sonny Liston with the small kit, acoustic bass, no Richard, no Guy.
Everyone back to their ‘normal places but Mark remains sitting for Rudiger with Richard duetting to start the song.
Some discussion about having eaten ostrich last night. We’re great – the ostrich isn’t so great…”Mark take a Martin acoustic guitar and Richard has the steel guitar for “All that Matters “, no drums, no bass, Matt on accordion, guy on beautiful harmony.
The ended the acoustic set for the evening. Long organ intro, (I didn’t get this one until the vocal started – I didn’t expect Speedway at Nazareth). It was here that the sound went a little wrong. The band did Speedway at top volume, especially the instrumentals at the end, and frankly, I couldn’t hear Mark’s guitar over the seemly louder drums/bass/keyboard volume. It sounded messy to me and I was sitting right in front of the sound desk.
The Schecter Strat came out for “Boom, like That” after a brief intro by Mark, appealing to us not to let Ray Kroc take over the ostrich business…Richard had a Telecaster and they took turns at the hook – sometimes Mark took it and sometimes Richard. I thought it was slower than the album and lacked energy. Again, the sound seemed poorer in this section of the set.
The unmistakable intro to Telegraph Road followed and Mark did the intro with the National and then switched to the Pensa – beautiful tone. This one lasted just over 12 minutes and was wonderful – spoiled by the same sound woes of the previous two songs but nevertheless, TR is a great musical feat and Mark did it all.
“Thank you!” Signalled the end of the first part and the beginning of the ‘encore game’. The crowd played along, calling for more and the band returned, clean shirts and all for the good stuff. Guy moved to Matt’s stool to fly the B3 while Matt took accordion duties for Brothers in Arms. The sound problems seemed to have been fixed – it was beautiful – best yet I’ve seen. Mark used the Les Paul and Richard had a Martin 12-string.
Then, predictably, Money for Nothing with the long intro. Richard abandoned guitars completely and played tambourine!
“Thank you…” again. More calling for more. Again, they reappear, to play Shangri-la, followed by “So far Away”. Mark used this song to say thanks to the crowd and the band and say how glad they were to have made it to South Africa at last. A great guitar solo and then it was over. Or was it?
More calling for more. Guy and Matt appear and take us into “The Mist Covered Mountains”. Mark is standing in the background with the red Strat. Matt leaves Guy and Mark on stage alone. “Going Home”.
Finally, the end. It’s so good to hear Mark live again.
Why Aye Man
Walk of life
What it is
Sailing to Philadelphia
The Trawlerman’s Song
Romeo & Juliet
Sultans of Swing
Done with Bonaparte
A Night in Summer Long Ago
Song for Sonny Liston
All that Matters
Speedway at Nazareth
Boom, Like That
Brothers in Arms
Money for Nothing
So Far Away
The Mist Covered Mountains/Going Home
Hope you enjoyed the notes, Ken