​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Acoustic

Mark Knopfler - Dallas 2015

Still a bit gobsmacked with how good Mark Knopfler and band were last night. It’s all a product of Mark’s brilliant songwriting, arrangement, playing, production, and most of all his imagination. Mark is a storyteller in the truest sense and he inhabits his characters to a depth not unlike Kate Bush or Tom Waits. I often feel like he understands American and World culture and history better than most of the natives.

His band are monsters on their respective instruments, and in most cases that’s three or more instruments each. The tour lineup includes Mark Knopfler (guitar, vocals), Guy Fletcher (keyboards), Richard Bennett (guitar), Glenn Worf (bass), Jim Cox (piano, organ, accordion), Ian Thomas (drums), John McCusker (violin, cittern), Michael McGoldrick (whistles, uilleann pipes), and Nigel Hitchcock (saxophone).

This band can cover any genre and create any dynamic. Majestic is a great old venue (I’m deliberately not talking about the seats), and the sound was excellent. High marks for the Dallas audience as they all seemed to be real Knopfler fans and not just the socialites that sometimes inundate these shows (not looking at you, ATT PAC). Another really cool feature of this and the last few tours is that Mark offers the board recordings on little guitar shaped USB sticks a few months after the show. As this was a great performance (even according to Richard Bennett on his blog), this live recording should be a keeper.

For the gear heads: Mark played a variety of strats, I think the classic old Les Paul from the BIA era, the resonator made famous from the album cover, his old Pensa Suhr (on the second half of Telegraph Road, and shit yes, he played Telegraph Road), a steel string acoustic, and the Danelectro pictured here. Great feature on Mark’s most important guitars on SkyArts from a few years ago:

  1. Broken Bones 

  2. Corned Beef City 

  3. Privateering 

  4. Father and Son 

  5. Hill Farmer's Blues 

  6. Skydiver 

  7. She's Gone (with Nigel Hitchcock)

  8. Your Latest Trick  (Dire Straits song) (with Nigel Hitchcock)

  9. Romeo and Juliet  (Dire Straits song) (with Nigel Hitchcock)

  10. Sultans of Swing 

    (Dire Straits song)

  11. Mighty Man 

  12. Postcards from Paraguay 

  13. Marbletown 

  14. Speedway at Nazareth 

  15. Telegraph Road  (Dire Straits song)

  16. Encore:
  17. So Far Away  (Dire Straits song)

  18. Going Home: Theme from Local Hero  (with Nigel Hitchcock)

Guitartastic… (Collage de Stubs 05/06)

were the years of 2005 & 2006. My "Triad of Guitar Ascendancy" (that's copyrighted, but feel free to quote it) includes Eric Johnson, Tommy Emmanuel, and Pat Metheny; in these two years I was able to see all three of them. Over one weekend I saw Tommy play twice and also attended a four hour workshop where it was Tommy and about fifteen of his truly dedicated fans in a small jazz lab.  He started the workshop off by saying "Let's bless the room" and launched into Amazing Grace, and I was overwhelmed. I can't describe what it's like to be sitting about 3 feet away from Tommy when he starts playing in a room so quiet you could hear a mouse breathing. 

The Pat Metheny Group show was the best I have attended out of the five times I've seen him. He started the show by playing "The Way Up" which is an entire album in one song. That song is among the most important American compositions of the last ten years and it's truly meant to be heard live. In a time of ever shortening attention spans, a single composition that lasts nearly an hour (and not by trick or gimmick, it's a fully developed piece that should be that long) is a criticism of the current culture and a perfect response to the hit single mentality of the music business. I think the song has relevance outside of music as well, since anything worthwhile in life takes time and attention.  Not one to short change the audience, the group commenced to perform for an additional two hours featuring songs from every era, including tunes like "Lone Jack", "Song for Bilbao", and "Are You Going With Me". It was a very satisfying experience and I was lucky enough to talk with and get an autograph from Antonio Sanchez (drummer), Gregoire Maret (harmonica, vocals, percussion), and Nando Lauria (guitar, percussion, vocals) after the show.  

Billy Idol is much better in a smaller venue as compared to when I saw him in 1986 at Reunion Arena. Having just released what I think is his best studio album thus far, his set list was quite good as well. It was general admission but we got there in time to have spots right against the stage on Steve Stevens side. Aeyong had her first near-groupie experience as she seemed to spark a little interest from Steve and he smiled at her several times during the show. I managed fist bump from Billy during "Dancing with Myself"  and was content with that :).  

Finally, in 2006 we got to see a full length Eric Johnson set at Juanita's in Little Rock. I have previously posted a detailed review of the 2007 show, and the 2006 set was similar. The sound levels were a little bass heavy and loud overall, but it was still great to see Eric live (from 5 feet away). As Eric was walking offstage, I was able to get him to sign a Guitar Player from 1986 that I had kept all these years (see honey, sometimes being a fanboy packrat pays off) (ok, it was just the one time). 



Oh, Sweet Nectar (Collage de Stubs 2003/04)…

Didn't realize how much I missed live music until Steely Dan took the stage at Smirnoff/Dallas in 2003. The notable shows were the acts we had never seen live before including Eric Johnson, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Sarah Mclachlan, and Norah Jones.  The most enjoyable show for me was easily the Rush 30th Anniversary Tour show. Well documented with a DVD shot in Germany, this tour show was over 3 hours long split into two sets and featuring deep album cuts from all their various eras. Just a great show on all levels from the set list, to the sound, to the production (lighting, sets, etc.) and as usual the videos were always entertaining, whether serious, atmospheric, or funny.

Also notable was the Eric Clapton Crossroads festival where I got to see Eric Johnson, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, Steve Vai, Robert Cray and many other great players.  Too bad it was a festival and all the sets were short. In a bit of self-indulgence (kinda the theme of the site just this once, promise) I pasted a screen capture from the Crossroads DVD showing me in the audience during the Saturday show which featured EJ among others. (That's me behind the Crossroads ticket stub) (Damn, I look good) Fleetwood Mac was also especially good, due in part to great seats, but mostly to the band just being really tight and well produced.  They also had a great set list and I must admit that I didn't miss Christine McVie as all of my favorite FMac songs are by Buckingham and Nicks. Steely Dan and Sarah McLachlan (MIA on the ticket stubs since they were internet tickets, wahhhh) were both great shows as well, and we were both very happy to finally see them live. I had been wanting to see Steely Dan for over twenty five years (FMac too) so it was great to finally get the opportunity.

Sting was a bit of a snoozer, unfortunately.  He was good on his first solo tour in 1985, and I imagine the "Soul Cages" tour would have been great as well. At this point he is going on about 3 albums in a row that have more forgettable than great songs, so the highlights were mostly his older material and the Police stuff of course.  He did play "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic", so that was great to hear.  



Metheny, Hedges, Punk-o-rama, (Collage de Stubs-86)…

Highlights for this year were seeing Metheny again (I had seen him in 84 with the group and on New Years Eve 85 with Ornette Coleman but have since lost the stubs), seeing Michael Hedges twice, and seeing Rush in a better concert environment (Reunion Arena vrs the Cotton Bowl) for their Power Windows tour.  PIL and Big Audio Dynamite were a blast, and I enjoyed all the Bronco Bowl shows. REM was a bit of a snoozer and Michael Stipe was in full prick mode.  He was unhappy about some fans getting a little rowdy in the front and said something like "you guys are going to calm down or I'm stopping this show right now".  A bit full of himself to say the least.