Scott / Thompson
Mark, Emmylou and the band did deliver a fine show, but it was rough going for everyone, especially the crew. The Charter One Pavilion is right on the Lake Michigan lakefront, and there was a damp, cold, blustery wind blowing for the entire show. The musicians, equipment, and lighting were wide open to the elements, visibly swinging the rigs at times and whipping the backdrop like a sail in a typhoon. Taking the stage without an opening act, the band seemed a little tentative with regard to the smallish crowd, the open air venue, and the inclement weather. But, by the time Emmylou sang "Michaelangelo" all doubts faded; through smoke that gusted violently in the wind, her voice rang clear as a bell through the twilight. About midway through "I Dug Up a Diamond" the stage lighting went out, and stayed out for several minutes. I sympathized with the lighting director - I design and operate lighting for my brother's local band "The Benders", so I know how frustrating a power failure can be - as the band played on, ending with a very powerful call and response guitar duel between Mark and Richard. A few songs later ("Done With Bonaparte") Mark had to stall with some deadpan chatter as Richard's bazouki wasn't coming through his amp. After a couple of unsuccessful cable change attempts from the (by this time) frustrated stage crew, Mark asked Stuart to start the song on fiddle with him, and Richard "can just come in later, when you're ready." Power for the lighting failed a couple more times during the show, including an entirely (save a couple front spotlights) dark "This Is Us."
It was a perfect setting for "Trawlerman's Song," but alas, that didn't happen, the same set list was played, with no surprises. I thought about how a unique set of circumstances such as this ought to inspire an artist to adjust a performance, to make it special for those that were there, to transcend the setting into mythology...but not this night. The last four songs of the show, with the audience on their feet, were "So Far Away", "Shangri-La", "If This Is Goodbye", and "Why Worry" - beautiful, elegiac music, but not exactly what we needed after two hours in the mist. A final, personal note, as a 28-year fan of Mark and his music: in my opinion, every Mark Knopfler show should include "Sultans of Swing."