A full hall of the "Banatul" Phylarmonic in Timișoara was awaiting to relive the legendary songs created by Dire Straits 30 or more years ago. And that is what The Dire Straits Experience offered in the following 2 hours or so. It all started with saxophonist Chris White playning a tune on the flute, the intro to the epic Telegraph Road, in which Mark Knopfler reflected upon the gradual development of the American landscape from the early colonists to the industrial fatigue of modern times. In the same way, we were now invited for a tour down "memory lane" (well, at least the older among the audience) to relieve the glory of Dire Straits, just before its huge fame collapsed down on top of it. That is the way of the musician, but also of life, that is the Walk of Life.
After such a great debut, the spotlight cast down on frontman Terence Reis, who played the parts of Romeo and Juliet in their complicated relationship that Mark Knopfler imagined. We followed through the Tunnel of Love, before Chris White took the michrophone to thank the audience for the warm welcome. He didn't want to chit-chat, so he went straight to the unmistakable saxophone tune of Your Latest Trick, to much applause.
From the same best-selling album Brother in Arms - also, a pioneer of the CD back in the day - came the chilling The Man's Too Strong, followed by a moment of reflection with Private Investigations. Left alone on the stage, Terence Reis played and sang Communiqué, but for Down to the Waterline (from Dire Straits' debut album) he was rejoined by rythm guitarist Tim Walters, by bassist Michael Féat and by drummer Chris Whitten. After Lady Writer, Chris White and the two keyboardists, Danny Schogger and Simon Carter reformed the whole group for the sound of swing and blues of Two Young Lovers.
After this journey through the band's earlier discography, we returned to more modern times with On Every Street, the eponymous track from Dire Straits' last studio album. Brothers in Arms offered a solemn moment through the moody melody and lyrics, and an emotional solo from Reis.
Some of the audience started to dance to the rythm of Sultans of Swing, but this was also the time for Reis to show off an excelent feel for the guitar. For the encore, Money for Nothing literally brought the whole crowd on their feet with just a slit hint from the frontman. The beautiful melody of Going Home, composed by Knopfler as the theme of the movie The Local Hero, brought a wonderful evening to an end.
There is no doubt about the excellence of the musicians that were on stage, but there is the question of whether the Dire Straits experience was an authentic one. I cannot give any answer or opinion to this, being that when Mark Knopfler was getting tired of the huge fame that the band received, I was just discovering MTV. Nevertheless, I can definitely say that without Terence Reis's rugged voice, the feeling wouldn't have been the same. And, luckily, Chris White chose to tell a few words to support this view. Looking for someone to stand in Knopfler's shoes, he was lucky to find Reis, who he describes as an "excellent guitarist, vital and energetic", without whom it wouldn't have been possible to keep the songs alive to the delight of old fans, but also for the young generations who are now discovering the music of Dire Straits.
Indeed, I found it that not only could Reis play and sing like Knopfler, but he also put on his own mark, especially on the guitar playing. Tim Walters did a great job backing him up, but not just that. Chris White brought with him the experience of the two monumental tours of the Brothers in Arms and On Every Street albums. Probably not many noticed the feeble Chris Whitten behind the drums, but he certainly made his pressence noted when the song needed to.