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Down The Road Wherever Merchandise

Check out the great DTRW merchandise items for sale in the markknopfler.com shop.

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DTRW Tour

The tour may be done and dusted…

The tour may be done and dusted, but you can still relive the shows at home with the official live audio recordings! Available to download, or on limited edition guitar shaped USB key in collector case. MarkKnopfler.com/liveconcerts

Posted by Mark Knopfler on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 25th September 2019 – New York NY

The Iconic Holy Temple of Rock and Roll, as Billy Joel once described Madison square Garden, was to be our final destination of this very special tour. The last time we came here was as Dire Straits in February 1992 and before that, October 1985 when Billy Joel guested. My recollections of that night are well faded but I remember one thing especially, the atmosphere. When I walked out front during Bonnie Raitt’s set tonight, I immediately felt the same surge through my veins and relaxed immediately. “This is going to be a good show”, I thought to myself. Prior to that, there were uncharacteristic nerves. I’m not quite sure why as after playing 85 shows, that kind of thing doesn’t happen. Maybe it was Bonnie’s presence or just the pressure to ensure it was a flawless show to finish the tour with? Go out with a bang… but whatever it was, thanks to this New York crowd, it was gone.

Here, in New York city, or even across the U.S. for that matter, I’m not sure there is a venue that could match everything that MSG has on offer. It’s what we Brits would call a ‘Tardis’, it looks so much larger from the inside and as Mr. Joel said, it is iconic. The journey from our hotel on 57th Street was interesting as Google maps was suggesting that it was quicker to walk. Midtown Manhattan was still manacled by the effects of the UN general assembly this week and the NYPD deemed it necessary to block of enough streets as to cause virtual gridlock. In fact, last night, walking to a restaurant, we were prevented from crossing 5th Avenue for 10 minutes as that president chap drove by in his motorcade. Anyway, we left the hotel and walked along 58th street to meet the cars, if they’d tried to get to the hotel entrance, it would have been another half an hour added to the journey such is the way the Streets and Avenues run.

Eight Avenue traffic heads North and Seventh, South, as we all know yet today it was slow going down to 32nd, around the venue and into the dock. The inching crawl took about 30 minutes and we were met at the gate by a sniffer dog who cleared the SUV for entry into the building. We climbed the steep ramp and had a mandatory bag search. My suitcase jam-filled with American sweets and foodstuffs (for the boys back home) caused mild amusement. It was destined for the wardrobe case. There’s a bit of space that we can ship personal items home making the check-in at JFK a little easier.

Great gaggles of local crew were sitting around on chairs chatting about either The Mets, The Yankees, The Jets or the Knicks and even more were driving fork lift trucks, mostly in reverse, as all you could hear was incessant beeping. The one thing that the MSG doesn’t lack is manpower. The union ensures there’s a man in every corner, sometime two or more. Our backline crew barely lift a thing in these places, the good news is, that know what they’re doing. It may be expensive but they know their shit. We headed for the dressing rooms which were perfect in every way. Loads of comfy couches, relaxed lighting and what looked like brand new clean toilets. We waited for Dave hall, our Stage Manager to give the word then headed up to the stage for our last sound check.

Arriving on stage at sound check, Bonnie Raitt looked every bit as stunning as the last time I saw her on stage with us in 2006 in LA. Her characteristic White flecked Red curly hair and her signature dark wood Stratocaster. We sound checked the song we had been secretly running in sound checks for the past month in preparation for this evening, ‘Wherever I Go’. I have to say that when Bonnie came in singing her verse, I nearly fell off my chair. What a voice. I’d forgotten. She, with her trademark bottleneck slide on her middle finger, exchanged gorgeous solos with Mark on the play-out and we ran the song another couple of times, goosebumps appearing periodically on my arms. Bonnie was quite taken with our band, in particular with Tom and Graeme who played the softest, coolest ‘pads’ in the song. Not easy to do. At one point she said, “My band is gonna sound like mud wrestling after this”. “I don’t think so Bonnie, your band is awesome”.

Ready for the show, Bonnie’s band sound checked and we said hi to a few of the guys in the band. Ricky Fatar is Bonnie’s drummer. An amazing player and we all particularly enjoyed watching him. Aaron Neville’s son, Ivan, was guesting on keyboards too. He’s quite a player. The next couple of hours seems to pass quickly as the arena filled and Bonnie  and her band took to the stage. It was a great set and a perfect warm-up for what was to come. We were ready.

Donning our in-ear monitors for the last time, we hugged, lots, and I mean lots, and headed for the stage. Paul Crockford made his customary Union Jack-embroidered ‘boxing’ announcement and we were off. The energy on the stage was insane but not unexpected. The smiles were everywhere and the band simply relished every note and moment. There was some emotion for all but actual tears were not in evidence. Not so for some of the crew, I learned afterwards. Mark thanked the ‘best crew in the world’ in the middle of the set and we continued on towards the climax of the show. The encores.

Even in my wildest dreams as a teenager, I would never have imagined this moment. Age, 59, singing the intro to Money For Nothing at Madison Square Garden, looking out to a sea of camera phones lighting up eleven thousand smiles. The 85 performances prior to this one seemed like mere warm-ups as the drums kicked in and Mark’s angry, hollow-toned Les Paul fired up on 11 out of 12 cylinders. Then, BANG. That riff. What made it all the more poignant was that in the audience tonight was Neil Dorfsman. Neil engineered and co-produced the album Brothers in Arms and it was he and I who went back into the control room one evening after dinner in Montserrat in December 1984 during recording and added the ‘Dinosaur’ synth part to a track which was destined for the bin. The next day, Mark heard the new energy and added the guitar riff and the rest is as we say, history. We all came back on stage, this time with Bonnie for the second encore , ’Wherever I Go’. OMG at MSG seems an appropriate statement…it was beautiful.

Nothing could be more appropriate as we ran our final song of the evening. ‘Going Home. None of us wanted to. The after show party was nothing but joy. All the guests were blown away by the show. Too many names to mention and as usual, never enough time to say hi to everyone. We were soon ushered out by the tired MSG staff and we all piled into the vans and headed for the hotel and a final session at PJ’s pub, open ‘till 4am, around the corned from the hotel. As I write this on an ageing British Airways Boeing 777 midway across the Atlantic, all that remains for me to say is THANK YOU. I mean of course thank you to Mark for enabling this astonishing collection of gentlemen musicians to shine in a way that couldn’t happen anywhere else. Thank you to the fantastic crew who really do ALL the work. We just gallivant around on stage having a ball. Thank you to all our families and loved ones who have supported us throughout and allowed us to be away from home for the best part of 6 months. And of course, last but by no means least, thank you to the fans, to every single one of you who bought a ticket, and came to a concert, sometimes more than one. Your support has been well and truly appreciated by every one of us. As for what happens next, let’s not worry about that now. Let’s just relish this moment and enjoy life with music in it because ‘a life without music, is no life at all’.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 22nd September 2019 – Los Angeles CA

The history of the Los Angeles Greek Theatre dates back to 1882, when Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, came to America from South Wales to seek fortune in gold mining. Colonel Griffith settled in Los Angeles and purchased the Los Feliz Rancho, which he later donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1896. This three thousand acre gift to the residents of Los Angeles was given with the intent that Griffith Park would be made an ‘eternal place of public recreation’.

Here, as I write at 33,000 feet, on our way to New York after last night’s show at the Greek, we find ourselves crossing the Rocky mountains, this time in an Easterly direction. It’s always bumpy at this point so fin d myself correcting many typos, apologies if I haven’t caught thm all. I can’t help thinking about the poor travellers affected by the Thomas Cook collapse. Yesterday, Britain’s biggest oldest and largest global travel group went into liquidation after a slow-motion downward spiral that started in 2006 when the company’s handling of an incident when 2 children died of carbon monoxide poisoning on a Thomas Cook holiday in 2006 was sorely criticised. The lure of cheap holidays and air travel mean that currently nearly 600,000 customers are affected by the announcement, many stranded. Thankfully the British government have stepped in to assist repatriation as best they can by laying on homeward bound flights across the globe. 

Eastbound, we said goodbye this morning to Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the fabulous Casa Del Mar. Our stay there has been as enjoyable as it always is. It’s difficult not to enjoy a beachfront location and beautiful secluded pool area, with weather to match. Of course this building is well known as being the home base for the Synanon drug rehabilitation program in the 70’s and 80’s. There is a permanent reminder of its former status as when drawing the curtains in the morning, inevitably you will see some of the local homeless population waking after a night under the palms on the beach. People struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues and who are living in encampments are often the most visible, but it is a myth that people experiencing homelessness decline help or prefer to live outdoors. The incongruous luxury of a beachfront room seems less so as I find myself watching the morning routines of some of the guys as they roll up their sleeping bags and towels. I reluctantly break the spell…It’s show-day morning, I decide to have one final attempt at ticking that Huevos Rancheros box properly so Laurie suggested we head for the Mexican Restaurant a couple of blocks away on Ocean Avenue. Success, at the final attempt.

Great breakfast demolished, it was time to consider the day ahead, and what a day. The Greek Theatre is one of the most iconic venues of the tour and even though we’ve played here many times, it still holds such respect from the band. It is LA after all. We left the hotel mid-afternoon and found that the drive wasn’t too interrupted by traffic. Sundays in LA can be unpredictable but the 10 freeway was smooth running. The day was hot and the gear covered with space sheets to protect it from being baked.

Retreating to the basement area of the Greek, the band were to be found in catering where Steve was overseeing the presentations. The food was absolutely excellent, in contrast to last time we played here, I seem to recall. At 5pm, we headed for the stage which was now just about coming into some welcome shade as the sun dropped behind the hill beyond which lies Griffith Park. My attention was drawn to a peculiar tree which appeared to have many small boxes attached to it. It turned out to be a 4G repeater, not a tree at all. A completely man-made lookalike with dozens of transmitters enabling locals, park-goers and Greek-goers to receive adequate coverage. Prior to the existence of this tree, there was none, the locals being the ones who complained the most. They got their wish to the detriment of Glenn and Gavin on the crew who battled with interference in some of the acoustic instruments. Of course, by the time we arrive, most of these issues have already been solved. You’d just never know. I’m just nosey, so I find out.

Every sound check is as useful as the one prior, Mark and I were just discussing this. The band dynamic is such that it’s only by playing in some of these tunes at the venue before the show that we can really deliver the way that we… at least think we do. Judging by the audience reactions, we seem to be doing ok. It will never be perfect of course, even after 85 shows.

Even after 85 shows. My god. Here we are, right at the tail end of a remarkable tour. Just one more after tonight, seems impossible to comprehend. Obviously so many mixed emotions that we all choose not to think too deeply about it all. The diaries are there partly for that reason, research, reflection and reality.

Knowing there would be so many friends and guests in the audience, the band always comes to a Greek stage with something extra, it’s human nature, and the energy on stage tonight was as perfect as the weather. One thing that was a little unexpected was the crowd. LA audiences are expected to be quite challenging, one of the most knowledgable musical crowds in the world is often subdued and contemplative. Not so tonight. What a reaction, right from Paul Crockford’s extravagant entrance and introduction belted at full volume in full Union Jack jacket regalia and Ianto’s 1, 2, 3, 4, count-off, they were UP and they stayed up. all in all it was quite a night, one to be remembered for all time, at least our time.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 21st September 2019 – Phoenix AZ

During our stay in Santa Monica, I’ve struggled to tick the Huevos Rancheros box satisfactorily. Our favourite old breakfast spot, ‘M Street Kitchen’ has sadly disappeared, gone the way of many restaurants on Main Street as rate increases force everyone but the most successful business out. We ate at ‘Cora’s’, another ancient Mexican cafe on Ocean drive that has managed to stay in business simply by charging the earth for everything. Their Huevos Rancheros was sadly lacking and hideously overpriced. We’ll never go there again I fear, but good luck to them anyway.

Each run we make to the airport in LA is a tense affair as traffic can be quite insane, but management’s decision not to use Van Nuys as we have in the past seems to be paying off. Today’s trip to Lax, accompanied by what I call ‘Brake Wah-wah’, where the driver is incapable of braking smoothly instead, was pretty quick. Once at the Signature aviation terminal, we decided to pass on ramp access as it involved too much paperwork, and with the band’s legs being fully functional, we simply walked the 30 yards to the jet.

Sushi was waiting on board and our journey across the Southwestern part of the US was long enough for Natalie to take her time. I gazed out across the vast, super-heated plains of the Sonoran Desert and as so often on these American adventures, wondered about the early settlers and how they navigated these great distances in such treacherous circumstances. The heat down there is clearly intense, as it was in downtown Phoenix itself, today the high was a moderate 95 degrees. Naturally I chose to wear shorts. This was my big mistake.

Every building in Phoenix has air conditioning. It’s a necessary requirement here and when we pulled up and got out of the cars, the outside temperature was lovely. Inside the building was a shock however. Apparently, when the crew loaded in this morning, it was 61 degrees. Our production boys requested it be raised as it’s simply unnecessary. By the time we got there it was 64. It felt freezing on stage and not being used to these drastic changes, I got quite a chill which lasted the whole evening. My nose eventually started running during the encores. Shit, not a cold. Not now! As we all know, being sick on the road is no fun at all. As soon as I was back at the hotel, I was in bed and under the covers. As I write this, thankfully it didn’t develop. Massive relief.

Running through the show, we really relished the lovely audience who were intent on listening to every nuance we offered, they were polite but extremely generous in their appreciation. We had such a lovely gig and the sound on stage was perfect. It’s hard to imagine we’ve done this show 85 times now and only have 2 more left. We’re tired but not tired enough to stop. We love this too much.

There were two things I’d never seen before that occurred today. The first was on the way to LAX, I saw a bus shelter advertisement sign that stated in large letters ‘Mass Shooting Insurance’. Everything about that message is depressing. On a lighter note, on the way to Phoenix airport after the show, during what was officially our final ‘runner’, Glenn spotted a restaurant called ‘Welcome Chicken and Donuts’. Chicken inside a Donut, as our driver explained is an acquired taste. My thoughts were ‘for a Chicken, things are never going to end well, but I’d still hate to end up inside a Donut’.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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