The Golden Century on Sussex st, Sydney has some of the best Chinese food I have ever eaten. Fabulous meal and great to over hear others talk about seeing Dire Straits in 1985 etc etc.
What a show. In some ways better than last night at the Enmore. MK played better, he seemed more relaxed and into the night than previously. The band played just as well as they had and I think they're getting into a groove gradually which should see them doing some ripping shows in a few months. That sounds like they're not great now, but they are. Very much so.
Wye Aye Man kicked it off again. And again it showed what a great opening track it is so it's been well chosen. It's great how MK's playing starts out quiet. Those subtle, muted notes and lines get you into it then that first lead break really kicks off the track. You know you're in for a great night.
Walk Of Life got the crowd into a cheer or three. Again the slower version and it's probably being played the best since the Mandela 70th Birthday show in '89 with Clapton. More country but not enough to annoy you. MK's using different inflections and melodies on the lyrics which is a nice change. I noticed he did this on most of the old Straits hits.
What It Is. Not quite up to last night's version, but still nice to hear. Got the lyrics right tonight! Well, he didn't venture into the extended version's verse.
Sailing To Philadelphia, lovely again. That tremolo. Overall it's more restrained than the studio recording, a bit more sweet. Man, the fans who saw it done with James Taylor in the states must have loved it!
This night was special to hear Romeo and Juliet cause my girl was by my side. She was really looking forward to hearing it tonight and she was so pleased when it began. He did it even better than last night. The crowd went wild. This is what many of them came for. It was pure magic. That opening trickle on the world's most beautiful guitar was drowned out from the sheer joy 11,000 people expressed. He sang it so well. He was so much more into tonight's show. It wasn't lacking a lot last night, but he just knew this was a real treat for Sydney. Most people bought tickets to this months ago without the choice of the second show. So many memories from so many of those shows in 1986. 24 of them in fact, still the record at this venue. And he sang the lyrics much like he did 25 years ago (can you believe that??) when it was first recorded. It's amazing he still expresses so much emotion all these years later, actually more than in recent years. It was a more bitter one could say. She must have really done him in. Standing ovation, bigtime.
So the lighting guy buggers up and instead of hear "Thankyyyyoooouuuu!" in the dark we get a half-hearted, half yelled "Thankyou very much". It totally threw him! Not to worry. The old favourite got cracking and oh man, did he nail this tonight. The solo in Sultans Of Swing was hot. He hammered the low-down, chicken pickin that I've never been able to pull off myself. Oh my god. I just don't know how he does it. I can't get it. It's the kind of stuff that makes you want to give up and read a book instead. Standing ovation number two.
Again forgive me for any order errors, I'm even more tired tonight. However I'll say Done With Bonaparte came up next and the standard musician introductions ensued. Light banter included and again it was a pleasure to hear that song. It's so laid back and genuine. These guys love to play and it's clear they love to play together.
Sit down time and I was very pleased to hear The Trawlerman's Song. Awesome! His voice is practically over the laryngitis, so you guys in Brisbane and Auckland are in for a treat. This is gonna just get better as the tour goes on, no doubt. It's a great tune and the extended solos from MK and Matt on organ are fab.
Onto Song For Sonny Liston and again, it rocked. He just got straight in after a bit of chat. The crowd, who up to this point had been calling for DS songs, actually really dug it. Plenty of calling out and hooting started in this one and continued into the night. Something a bit different I don't recall from last night though. Some improvised soloing towards the end, 2 bars chords, 2 bars solo. Worked well.
Donegan's Gone but you wouldn't know it. Beautifully done again. I think the guy would be most proud. They were actually friends.
I was a bit loud when I went "oh yeah" to the opening notes of Rudiger. Hardly anyone got it till a bit in but I guess because it's not that well know. In my now expert opinon, it's one of the best songs he's ever written. Such a treat. Lovely rhythm flourishes from Richard. That guy is brilliant.
Full band standing again and it was off to the Speedway At Nazareth. I said to my girl, "This will blow your mind" to which she replied"Uh-huh". Well did she eat her words. "That was $#@%!& awesome!!!" And was it what. Man these guys can rock.
Boom Like That was ok. The crowd at this point were applauding with less vigour each time it was a non-DS track. I thought it was better last night but the ending seemed to hit harder this time.
The crowd went nuts again. The world's most beautiful guitar was out again playing such a beautiful piece. So well timed and graceful. Loud applause and cheers and hoots. The lead got 'em going too. That crunch. Again Telegraph Road is just in a league of it's own when it comes to great Dire Straits songs. I keep thinking, "should I call it his best?" The versions on this tour have been that good. The quiet parts were peaceful. A few bars short of the exact spot where that guy calls out "We love you Dire Straits!!" on the Alchemy Live album, a punter tonight declares, "We love you Mark!!!" (Only a nerd like me would know that)
But it's true. The chatter at the restaurant before the show was all about past concerts and it was had with such happiness. These people do feel strongly about this guy. A friend told me today how wanting to meet someone like MK might have more to do with how the music affects you. That could be true, but I can't help think when it comes to Knopfler, it's the man that does it, not just the music. He's not unappreciative yet he's not overly-friendly. But he feels like a friend. He feels like a part of my home. He's the old guy across the road who has been there forever. He has been there forever for me.
Standing ovation three. Waves and nods and off the stage. The clapping continued and all knew he'd be back. Maybe 2 minutes and he was, with the 96er's, hearing shouts of "Local Hero", "Tunnel Of Love" and "Money For Nothing". They went nuts (again) when those achey, opening lines of Brothers In Arms echoed through the room. It was heavenly. Matt's accordion was poignant again. I kept having visions of diggers making charges on the front. On an ANZAC day I worked a few years back I played parts of this song on our coverage, matched with the old black and white pictures. It really grabs you when it's played in that way. He stinged a solo or two here too and Guy's contribution on organ was breathtaking. Really great stuff. I never thought Chris White's flute could be beaten on that track but Matt's accordion comes bloody close. Both together would be interesting.
Well Money For Nothing was a crowd pleaser. Everyone singing and moving about. The front of stage area filled up quickly when it appeared to be the last song. Another standing ovation (No. 4) but punters in the rafters began to leave. It was funny to watch them all stop in their tracks when the more attentive ticket holders realized he was returning again. Encore number two. You know what the trick is? When the house lights DON'T come on, you know you're probably gonna get some more music. I mean how dumb are some people??!!
The Mist Covered Mountains was again a pleasure, Matt's accordion just devine. He clearly loves playing that instrument and that tune. It's so old. It could easily have been in Braveheart.
When MK finally rolled on that first chord in the Wild Theme, the crowd went wild again. (third time? Probably more.) They kinda knew it was coming but it was certainly desired by many. Tonight he played it so carefully and thoughtfully. The expression on his face was so wanting. He wanted it to be perfect and true. Another embrace with Guy (or Gee as he had called him earlier) and they were gone. Lights up and thousands of smiling faces rolled out onto the slippery road.
So to those looking forward to their own experience in the coming months (you lucky sods!) enjoy and soak it up. It may not happen again. I'm so amazed I've seen him up close, twice in the one week. It's been an absolute blast and one of the greatest experiences of my life that I'll never forget. If you're reading this and you don't have a ticket to a show in your town, go get one right now. It will be some of the most well spent money ever.
Cheers and goodnight.
Ben "Luzzo" Luscombe