Alchemy: Dire Straits Live
The more time goes by, the more it seems like this might have been Dire Straits’s ultimate statement. Released a year before Brothers in Arms sent them into the mega league, it was recorded in London’s Hammersmith Apollo — a large theatre sized venue — but you can absolutely hear the skewed, cinematic romanticism of Mark Knopfler’s writing and arrangements achieving stadium scale here. This is a band who’ve done their 10,000 hours and more, absolutely on top of their game, expanding the songs in every direction, totally on top of the audience interaction, completely electric from beginning to end. But, crucially, as a singer and leader, Knopfler remains diffident, low-key, almost an anti-singer with his nasal mumble, and his songs — while they superficially resemble wide-skies-and-wide-highways Americana — are generally centred on small and ordinary things, or city life from the point of view of a bemused onlooker. The combination of these minutiae with such a grand sound is…well…alchemical.