WITH his headband-wearing, stadium-filling, Dire Straits-fronting epoch long behind him, these days Mark Knopfler has settled into a comfortable twilight groove as a seasoned purveyor of lyrical, Celtic-influenced folk-rock.
Glasgow SSE Hydro
Rating: * * * *
An exceptional guitarist – on Tuesday his playing, so sensitive and soulful, was sublime – he’s also a fine songwriter when inspiration strikes.
But occasionally he’s guilty of falling back upon drearily traditional melodies and arrangements.
The likes of Kingdom of Gold, a duet with Ruth Moody, plodded like a depressed, sodden shire horse.
Yet there were moments when, in his unassuming way, he soared.
Privateering, an ominous, powerful, acoustic folk-blues, was spellbinding. Further highlights from his solo canon included a wrought-iron chug through Marbletown and, from current album Tracker, the bouncy, Ray Davies-esque character sketch, Skydiver.
A generous host, he allowed his versatile seven-piece band – an assured, often gorgeous conglomeration of fiddle, piano, mandolin, accordion, saxophone and flute – to shine.
But when he took centre stage on Dire Straits classics such as the poignant Romeo and Juliet and, still his greatest song, Sultans Of Swing, his potent musicianship reigned supreme.
While his vocals have always been more limited than his playing, age has brought a certain richness to his voice. Like Dylan dipped in honey and sawdust, he’s a leathery, heartfelt troubadour.
For over two hours he gave the people what they wanted while staying true to his undimmed vision.
Longueurs notwithstanding, he’s more than earned that right.