LIVE REVIEW: THE DIRE STRAITS EXPERIENCE, Thebarton Theatre, 21st September 2018

The Dire Straits Experience really does live up to its name.

With Mark Knopfler displaying little interest in his former band, this outfit is as close as you’ll get to a Dire Straits gig these days. Tellingly, the band’s songwriter and frontman didn’t even show up when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier in the year. And having just announced his ninth solo album (well surpassing his former band’s six), Knopfler is firmly entrenched in this new phase of his career with only the occasional nod to Dire Straits in his setlists these days. Guesting on The Killers latest album is about as close as it gets to those stadium rock days of yesteryear.

DSE2.jpgSo where does one go to hear the band’s back-catalogue rendered with both musical integrity and authenticity? The answer is The Dire Straits Experience, formed around Chris White, who served as sax player in the original outfit. Along with White’s legacy connection, the show works because of guitarist / vocalist Terence Reis who manages to fill the Knopfler shoes remarkably well. In both his fingerpicking style of playing and laconic vocal delivery he fits perfectly, allowing the show to work as it is intended.

This is the third time the Experience has toured to our shores and are they building up quite a following here. The nostalgia was palpable at Thebarton Theatre, with the audience transported to the eighties hey-day of the material, many of them up and moving energetically to ‘Money For Nothing’ and ‘Sultans of Swing’ towards the end of the show.

Being their third visit, it would have been good for the outfit to shake up the setlist a bit this time around. ‘Telegraph Road’ is a standout number, but serving as the opening song all three occasions with a similar pattern of songs to follow, there is room for a little variation. Thankfully however, there were a few surprises in the arrangements, particularly a calypso style ‘So Far Away’ (based on a version that had its origins during the Australian leg of the 1986 Brothers in Arms tour) and more gradual build up in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Meanwhile a fiery, stripped back arrangement of ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ was a welcome addition, reminding of the band’s origins as a four piece in the late seventies.

Finishing up with ‘Going Home’, the crowd left very satisfied, with the band having done its job well. The Dire Straits Experience is a fantastic night out, faithfully reconstructing some of the great compositions of rock music.

Read our interview with Chris White here.

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor

Pictures supplied