Here we have Dire Straits’ 90s concert CD. Many big tracks here, and all are played well. As you’d guess, right?
Of course! But some cat named Andrew McGuire thinks otherwise:
This live album finds Mark Knopfler well into his decadent phase: prosperous, internationally acclaimed, and long past remembering the hard times and hungry years from which his band originally drew both its name and its attitude. Where the first three Dire Straits albums evinced a gritty determinism, an acknowledgement of their unfashionability coupled with an urgent desire to remake the world on their own terms, this seems bloated and self-congratulatory, so that even “Romeo And Juliet” (arguably Knopfler’s greatest achievement as a songwriter–and undoubtedly his most popular) sounds vaguely perfunctory; while other, lesser tracks (“Heavy Fuel”, “On Every Street”) are merely inconsequential, the songs little more than excuses upon which to hang extended lead-guitar noodling. Sting makes a dutiful appearance on “Money For Nothing”–but somehow those lyrics seem less ironic than they used to, less savage: more a bald statement of fact. And that’s scary. –Andrew McGuire
I dunno, Andrew, what else would you have them do? It’s 1993. They’re playing to huge crowds, so they’re gonna play the hits, they’re gonna sound somewhat like the album versions, and for all that, when it’s Dire Straits playing you know that’s gonna be pretty damn good! Who would listen to Dire Straits and complain if Mark Knopfler did a little bit of extra guitar noodling? This guy, apparently.
I didn’t get a whole lot of bloat or laziness from any of it. Check out the instrumental workout of album opener Calling Elvis (which ends up being 10:31), or the steel guitar brilliance on Walk Of Life, or the bluesiness of Heavy Fuel, or… Man, I could mention every song on here. Did you even listen to this in full before you wrote it up, or just scan the first 30 seconds of each song? Or were you multi-tasking ten other things while you tried to hear this too? Maybe you didn’t have the good headphones on. Those always help.
I give it two thumbs up. Excellent versions, perfect for their mid-90s sound, and I dig the warmth and that feel that you’re right there as they’re playing it all. Yes!
Tracks: Calling Elvis / Walk Of Life / Heavy Fuel / Romeo And Juliet / Private Investigations / Your Latest Trick / On Every Street / You And Your Friend / Money For Nothing / Brothers In Arms