Skeptical is the word that best describes the expectations ahead of seeing The
Straits Tuesday night in Tel Aviv.
Billed as performing the greatest hits
of 1980s super group Dire Straits, the recently formed British band included
former key member Alan Clark on keyboards, as well as longtime sax player Chris
White, but was missing one key element – Dire Straits founder, guitarist,
songwriter and singer, Mark Knopfler.
It would be like The Rolling Stones
going out on the road with Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts but without Jagger and
Richards. Is it still the Stones or is it a glorified tribute band? The answer,
after seeing the nearly two-hour set of The Straits before a sold out crowd at a
reserved seating setting at Hangar 11, is that it doesn’t matter.
show was phenomenal, with the seven-piece band providing a downright top rate
Dire Straits show.
It wasn’t done with mirrors, but with a savvy group of
musicians, led by Clark, and featuring the unbelievable Knopfler channeling of
guitarist/singer Terence Reis.
The Mozambique-born find not only
replicates Knopfler’s guitar and singing style in an eerily accurate manner, he
performs with such gusto and passion it was easy to forget we weren’t watching
the original Dire Straits in its early 1980s prime.
elongated versions of epics like “Telegraph Road” and “Tunnel of Love” to fan
favorites like “Walk of Life” and “Brothers in Arms,” the music hit every
target, without a false note of mimicry or nostalgia – which is quite a feat,
since it was all about mimicry and nostalgia.
That was more apparent with
the show-closing obligatory “Sultans of Swing” and the encore of “Money for
Nothing,” but the spirited band even managed to instill life into those old war
horses. They brought the evening to an understated close with an exquisite
version of “Portobello Belle,” capturing the wistful essence of Dire Straits
better than the more well-known hits.
The evening’s only misstep, for me
anyway, came during the band introductions in the middle of the show and during
the handshakes and hugs the band members shared at the end, seeming to be
sincerely elated over a job well done and over the audience that roared its
approval. It would have been an appropriate moment for a shout out to the white
elephant in the room, the person who made it all possible – Mark Knopfler.