The large audience was buzzing with anticipation as 8.00pm came, and the air of expectation grew with the passing minutes, until the moment when Mark and the musicians came on stage and there was a huge roar from the crowd, cheers and whistles.
Straight into 'Why aye man', and the sound is great, Mark is looking great in the purple striped shirt and jeans that are familiar from concert photos on the MK site, he is fit and tanned, his voice sounds full and clear, and this song is just brilliant.
This is followed immediately by 'Walk of Life' and the crowd responds rapturously with a burst of applause and cheers of delighted recognition. Richard Bennet claps his hands in rythem to the beat and a sea of hands are immediately following his lead, Chad Cromwell is giving the drums and percussion everything he has, Mark is intent over his guitar and the song rollicks along.
I was shaking with emotion at actually being at the concert, after watching videos over the years, I knew how good they would be, but my expectations were surpassed, they played with polish, perfection and precision, the sound was brilliant and the lighting effects were unbelievably good, adding to the atmosphere the band were creating.
The songs were a collection of past, previous and present and I imagine we all had our favourites, certainly when the early Dire Strait songs were played, it generated a lot of ecstatic response, time may be slipping down the old slipway, but it stood still when the classics were played.
'Romeo and Juliet' bought a great roar of applause and cheering as it began, Mark playing his beautiful National steel guitar, which is the only one I can confidently identify. Bursts of silver light flashed from it under the bright lights. Mark's voice is husky and he sang with emotion, the last line, "you and me babe, how about it," softly, echoed by his guitar, and the silent awed crowd suddenly burst into spontaneous applause, this is just such a beautiful song.
The mood was lifted by the power and force of what has almost become a Dire Straits anthem, the well loved 'Sultans of Swing' which is fantastic, especially with the glorious lighting effects. The stage is bathed in a golden glow, which slowly deepens to a bronze, it is just magical.
Mark sits down and chats about the next few songs, 'Done with Bonaparte' which is one of my favourites from his first solo CD. what an incredible delight to hear it live.
'Song for sonny liston', 'Donnegan's gone' and Mark talks about how he was inspired to write the latter, the song is a great rocker, it comes across really well live, I liked it on CD but hearing it live is even better. Someone appears on stage and says "cup of tea boss" while placing a cup down beside Mark who sips at it while explaining about his sore throat, " I've had laryngitis... what do you call it... a tonsil thingy... thanks to your antipodean doctors its cured now..." and there is a ripple amusement and a round of applause in sympathy for Mark's suffering, congratulatory for the doctor.
Back on his feet and the mood changes again, it's into the rockers with a great deal of panache.
The most intense song of the concert for me was the performance of 'Telegraph road'. The sound and the lighting combined to make this the most memorable, with Chad Cromwell driving beat, the guitars howling, and the organ flying the song along. It was like being caught up in a tornado and lightening storm simmultaneously, it was breathtaking, immensely powerful and left me gasping with increduality.
How does Mark play with such speed and dexterity? He just is the most superb guitarist in the world, there is no-one else who has his distinctive,unique style. The musicians he has around him are just excellent, of the highest class.
There is a huge ecstatic response after 'Telegraph road', I think everyone here has been left stunned with amazement and excitement after this experience, for that is what it was, hearing stupendously talented musicians playing with such passion.
The lights go down and Mark and the band go off stage, minutes of applause and cheering pass before they are back again, and the stage is an eerie blue for the haunting and soulful 'Brothers in arms', then it is the other Dire Straits anthem, 'Money for nothing' and suddenly some of the mid section on the floor are up and dancing in elation, more and more follow, arms are waving, some are singing along, it's great to watch. There is another huge outburst of applause and cheering, then it is only Mark and Guy on stage, a backdrop of navy blue with small flickering stars, a hushed atmosphere, and two gorgeous Celtic songs from the 'Local Hero' soundtrack, 'Mist covered mountains' and 'Going Home'.
The audience are still standing, swaying in time, silent, hushed, as the planitive music flows.
Then it's all over, and the crowd files out of the stadium quietly, there is little talk, I feel satiated with music, still stunned, unable to come down to earth. Outside there are headlights as the rows of cars move in a snaking trail towards the main road, I glance at the night sky, it is clearing now, clouds bunched in clusters, and I can only see one solitary star shining. How very symbolic.