David Knopfler at The Forge
They say punctuality is the enemy of rock’n’roll, and David Knopfler (ex Dire-Straits) with guitarist Harry Bogdanovs, whilst being only a few minutes late, proved that, though their days of rocking might well be nearing over, they are not ready to hang up the boots just yet. The intimate crowd at The Forge in Camden last night offered a rapt applause to see the well-honoured musicians performing yet again.
“It’s very nice to be back in London… It’s very surreal,” Knopfler said after coming on to the stage, which itself was simply lit, featuring a few guitars and an impressive grand piano. Their first song, Nickles and Dimes, created a rich harmonious blend of both guitars melodically moving to create a soothing backdrop before the singer-songwriter’s renowned vocals took control. His voice has aged considerably well. It still has that unique quality to it and, if anything, the years have made it somewhat darker, like a late Leonard Cohen’s voice, gentle yet haunting.
The next number, Jericho, off of the album Wishbones, kicked things up a notch. With its infectious pulsing bass drone and its catchy rhythm, it soon got people’s feet tapping, from the head-nodding movers-and-shakers up front to the glassy-eyed dreamers at the back. The song itself was more of a Dylanesque truth-telling folk tune, proving Knopfler can still stick it to the man.
There were a few moments in which the lack of practise shone through; one particular tuning of the guitar took something close to ten minutes. But the audience weren’t put off one bit and Knopfler took it like a pro, even at one point offering to do requests to keep them on his side. But once the music started again so did the storytelling, and it’s clear to see that this British artist is still the best in the business at that. Easy Street is about the false promises of the music industry, and The Great Nowhere is a touching song about his mother’s memory loss. There was a brief mention of Dire Straits: “I used to be in a little band in south east London,” but nothing more than that.
The show seemed to have both ends of the spectrum, with both the professionalism and overall quality we’ve come to expect from a name such as David Knopfler, and also the open-mic-night feeling of the evening – the glancing at music stands to look at the lyrics and the sometimes buzz notes on the guitar. Whichever end it was closer too, like in true rock’n’roll, it doesn’t matter; the crowd is always right and what it wants it gets, and they wanted more. A chant was started to bring him back for an encore, and lo and behold Knopfler had one last tune up his sleeve, which got everyone singing and dancing and finishing the night on a natural high.
Photos: Nick Bennett
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Watch David Knopfler play Grace in the Gutter here: