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Review: Mark Knopfler at Metro Radio Arena - GALLERY

WELL, the boy can still play. It may not have been a blistering homecoming for our local hero on Saturday night but it was certainly spellbinding.

WELL, the boy can still play. It may not have been a blistering homecoming for our local hero on Saturday night but it was certainly spellbinding.

Here is a guitar player and singer still at the top of his game more than 20 years after Dire Straits played their final concert.

Of course a lot has happened since those headline days.

Some eight solo albums have followed and this was a chance to hear some of his latest offerings from the latest in that long line. There was an early rendition of Privateering, the title track from his first-ever double album of some 20 original songs. Another highlight was Gator Blood, a sideways swipe at music management.

But of course they say you can take the man out of Dire Straits but you can’t take the band out the man.

Right from the off with the expected “it’s good to be back in Newcastle” there was much anticipation that the he would get back to basics and bring out some of the standards.

Indeed Knopfler recently stated: “I like playing the old songs. I wrote them and people like to hear them. It’s a simple as that.”

It may be simple but his guitar playing is still stunning and his almost laconic singing style as powerful as ever.

The packed audience was not disappointed. Backed by a superb eight-piece band throughout there was a vast and varied selection from his huge catalogue before we got into the real thing and it came with a mesmeric Romeo and Juliet.

There was still more to come as a stunning Telegraph Road was nearly the finale to a complete performance.

This stopover was just a brief interlude in a tour which sees Knopfler and band zig-zagging around Europe. The UK leg of their travels culminates later this month with a staggering six nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Not bad for a local boy done good.

There was of course a fitting climax to a night that was so much more than just nostalgia as his songwriting seems nowhere near a conclusion.

The first encore was a rocking So Far Away before we had the conclusion everyone wanted. It came with Local Hero. A fitting epitaph to a glorious night.

Ron Clarke

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