Mark Knopfler

Glasgow Hydro

Graeme Thomson


“WHAT can I do?” shrugs Mark Knopfler, explaining his continuing compulsion to tour into his seventieth year. “I’ll just keep showing up until I fall over.” One of the biggest rock stars of the 1980s, Knopfler long ago re-positioned himself as a high end journeyman, a stance underscored by the title of his new album, Down The Road Wherever.

He’s a low-key artisan these days, all trace of flash and swagger excised. It might be considered a failing were Knopfler not so adept at his trade. Throughout this beautifully calibrated two-hour set, he was every inch the poet laureate of the quotidian life, although a song ruminating on the whereabouts of a bacon roll veered dangerously close to self-parody.

He remained capable of raising fire on greasy rockers like Corned Beef City and Speedway At Nazareth, while Postcards From Paraguay evoked the joyous rhythms of a Rio street party, but folk was the most prominent musical flavour. His superb ten-piece band – including local boy John McCusker on fiddle, penny whistle and pretty much everything else – whipped up a glorious hoedown on Done With Bonaparte, while Knopfler reflected on the teenage “would-be vagabond” of his youth in the moving Matchstick Man, accompanied by uilleann pipes. Never having much of a voice to lose, his conversational murmur complemented the material better than ever, while his guitar playing remained fluid, lyrical and utterly distinctive.

In a set rather shy of Dire Straits classics, the sodium-light blues of Your Latest Trick, a weathered Romeo and Juliet, and a crackling encore of Money For Nothing ensured that past glories were acknowledged, if perhaps slightly dutifully. He ended with Going Home, the whirling theme from Local Hero, before rolling back down the road, seeking another stage, if not the spotlight.