At 14 I was in the throes of a Dire Straits obsession. Time is a healer, and I am okay now. But back then, I wouldn’t hear a bad word. And this all culminated in seeing the band live in Auckland at the end of 1991, just my second concert featuring an international act (actually it was a pretty cool double-bill of sorts: Hothouse Flowers was the opening act).
I guess Dire Straits had always been around me growing up because Brothers in Arms was HUGE. No other word for it – the album was big, the singles were epic and that blocky video to Money for Nothing was, at the time, a revelation, pioneering audio-visual entertainment,
And songs from the earlier 80s albums like Private Investigations, Twisting by the Pool, Industrial Disease and Telegraph Road were radio staples. I was way into Dire Straits when I started high school; loved them. And then there was the announcement that the band was playing in Auckland. By chance I would be there for, almost unbelievably now, a clinic for “elite” junior hockey players.
So, as a treat for putting up with a week of insane personal-trainer types videoing my performance making slap-shots past a top goalie and then playing them back and yelling at me that my feet were too wide apart and my centre of gravity was actually not right, I was shouted a ticket to Dire Straits. The family travelled up in a van with one of my school mates and we went to Dire Straits. I bought the T-shirt. (A practice that has ceased.)
The gig was great; well I only had Eric Clapton to compare it to at that stage, so it was easily in the top two shows ever for me. At that point…
Mark Knopfler and crew played all the hits and I only cringed twice: early on when he played Walk of Life (even at the height of my obsession with all things Knopfler-twang I could never stand that song) and the similar cheesy-bop of The Bug from that final Dire Straits album, On Every Street.
Apart from that it was all the hits and the best of Street including the opening 10-minute version of Calling Elvis with a drum solo duet.
In preparation for the concert I had all my Dire Straits tapes lined up, including the Mark Knopfler soundtracks to Cal, Local Hero and The Princess Bride and that album by The Notting Hillbillies… I even had a solo album by the bass player. Unnecessary.
Funnily enough, shortly after the concert I started to feel my interest in Dire Straits waning. It was as if I had purged. I had ticked the box. It was time to move on.
The Knopfler soundtracks still get the odd play from me, most recently Last Exit to Brooklyn – one of my favourite scores ever. And I will always listen to a Knopfler solo album, though the last one I really cared about was The Ragpicker’s Dream.
Anyway, I thought to bring this up, because I have recently fished out vinyl copies of the live double Alchemy, those first two albums that I mentioned earlier and the next two, Making Movies and Love over Gold. And as I sat and listened to Alchemy and my wife said “this is crap” I realised then what I had known for more than a decade: Dire Straits is not cool. And never will be. And perhaps the band never was. But they were big. A big deal, a huge act.
But Dire Straits will never be cool. I cannot see them undergoing a huge renaissance.
So, the point is, I’ve admitted my interest in the band here. Can you think of any other acts that will a) never be cool again. Ever. And b) you are or were a huge fan of…
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