Mark Knopfler, Royal Albert Hall, gig review: Dire Straits classics are obvious crowd-pleasers

Lengthy jams feel overindulgent but offer a trip out of the comfort zone

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The Independent Culture

There's a glorious familiarity to a Mark Knopfler performance. Much of this comes from the rapport he has with his crew: a fantastic bunch of multi-instrumentalists who share plenty of banter with their leading man.

Nigel Hitchcock appears halfway through for a wonderful turn on the sax, including a cheeky, misleading intro ahead of "Romeo and Juliet", while flute and fiddle add a Celtic touch.

"Privateering", a typical Knopfler narrative featuring ominous undertones, is wonderful, deeply involving; possessing an understated elegance which reflects back on some of his best material.

"Postcards From Paraguay" from 2004’s Shangri La has a similar effect, while Dire Strait's "Sultans of Swing" is an obvious crowd-pleaser with that inescapable hook and Knopfler's fantastic improvisation.

Ruth Moody, who appears with Knopfler for "Wherever I Go" on his eighth solo LP Tracker, joins him onstage for a live version. Her vocals are light and pleasant, but they struggle to match the grit that Knopfler puts into his lyrics. 

Lengthy jams occasionally feel overindulgent, sacrificing time that the audience may prefer to be given over to more of their favourites. But perhaps this is Knopfler attempting to push himself, and his fans, out of the comfort zone.

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