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The Beauty of Economy

Mark Knopfler, Philadelphia, PA, 07/26/08
Mark Knopfler, Philadelphia, PA, 07/26/08

The Roemer Three-Concert Summer Series wrapped this past Saturday with Mark Knopfler at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia.  The concert was great as one would expect.  What struck me was the spareness of Mark’s playing style. For most of the night you could barely see him pick and any strumming was minimal.

I grew up with Dire Straits, their rise pretty much in line with my high school years.  I also own a few of Mark’s solo albums.  It never occurred to me how much of Mark’s playing is on top of everything else.  It reminded me of B.B. King.  There’s a scene in Rattle and Hum where B.B. tells Bono that he’s horrible with chords, he can only play the melody.  Mark can do whatever he wants but it’s almost all melody in a concert situation like this.

Highlights included Romeo and Juliet, Speedway at Nazareth and True Love Will Never Fade off of Mark’s most recent album, Kill to Get Crimson.  Two surprises in the band was one musician who played a number of songs with the ukulele and one who was playing acoustic electric sitar in a guitar style.