Saturday night, October 3rd, Mark Knopfler played a sold-out show at the Murat Theatre in the Old National Centre in Indianapolis. He was joined on stage by his band of eight other people to play a two-hour concert filled with classics from his former band, Dire Straits, and solo tracks, too. Knopfler is a musicians’ musician after having worked with and even producing records for the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, and Randy Newman. Rolling Stone ranked Knopfler the 27th greatest guitarist of all time and that title rang true on Saturday night in Indianapolis.
As the crowd sat in anticipation, a man appeared on stage wearing a bright, bold Union Jack jacket and introduced the one and only Mark Knopfler. The entire band then entered the stage and led the crowd in a clapping rhythm to warm up the room. In fact, Knopfler warmed the entire evening with his quick little jokes and asides. He even told his band “good luck” a handful of times. The entire crowd was giggling from his dry British humor and he kept it understated and consistent all evening.
The stage was set up with appropriate but discrete lighting and three blocks of instruments. Almost every instrument the band used throughout the evening (and there were many) was housed right there on stage. This gave the show a sort of living room or studio feeling. If you add in the fact that Knopfler hinted at the show being whimsical with a loose set list and the lack of large monitors at the front of the stage blocking the band, you can understand how this show may have felt personal in a way.
At one point in the evening, Knopfler took a moment to introduce his band members. Not only did he introduce them to an energetic, cheering crowd, but he had the most genuine and heartfelt things to say about them. The audience could feel the shared admiration between band members and this made for a special evening. These band members played more instruments than most other rock concerts ever have. Multiple guitars, electric bass, double bass used with and without a bow, keys, organs, accordion, fiddle, Uilleann pipes (the national bagpipe of Ireland), mandolin, saxophone, and others all made appearances on stage. This band is wickedly talented.
Highlights of the night included “Privateering,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Postcards From Paraguay,” and the Dire Straits classic, “Sultans of Swing.” The show closed with
“Speedway at Nazareth” before an encore of “So Far Away” and “Going Home: theme from Local Hero.” During “Sultans of Swing” Knopfler played his signature Mark Knopfler Stratocaster guitar. He had the amazing ability to be able to play that song’s incredible guitar solo and have the rest of his body be as relaxed as can be. It was awe-inspiring.
In fact, the entire audience was awe-struck all evening. Knopfler himself used the term “Transatlantic Blues” at some point in the evening and that perfectly describes this classic bluesy rock with inspired hints of Celtic instruments and melody patterns. Mark Knopfler and his band left the audience in a unique kind of sensory overload with so many instruments doing so many things. One can’t help but try to watch them all at once, and that kind of musical overload is the best kind of musical overload.