Posted: 07 Jun 2010
Mark Knopfler, Royal Albert Hall, May 30
Like fine wine Knopfler – he’s now 60 – is ageing well. Apart from the trapped nerve in his back which means he is performing this tour – promoting his new autobiographical album Get Lucky – playing his blissful guitar licks perched on a stool.
It didn’t seem to cramp his style and he made light of the ailment – joking with his adoring fans – although he did appear to be wincing in pain on occasion.
It all kicked off with Border Reiver from the new album and ended with Piper to the End – the moving tale of his uncle Freddie, of the 1st Battalion Black Watch, who marched into battle playing his pipes and was killed in action at Ficheux in May 1940 at the tender age of 20.
Sandwiched in between were two hours of classic tracks from his entire back catalogue and the trademark guitar switches featuring some of his cherished axes, including a couple of Fender Strats, a 1958 Gibson Les Paul and his beloved 1937 National Steel, which is pictured on the cover of the Brothers in Arms album.
The obligatory Sultans of Swing and Romeo and Juliet probably got the loudest applause from a capacity crowd (he actually sold out six nights here) but he rightly gave them due reverence and respect.
Other highlights included What It Is and Sailing to Philadelphia (his emotive duet with James Taylor was recorded on the eponymous album) and a couple of songs from his 2002 A Ragpickers’ Dream album – Hill Farmer Blues and Prairie Wedding.
This particular concert was dedicated to one of the charities very close to his heart – the Teenage Cancer Trust (See my profile on his charity work in the Celebrities and Charity sections) and all proceeds from Piper to the End are going to another worthy cause to which he has recently added his formidable fundraising muscle - The Royal British Legion. Long may he remain – a guitarist to the end.