So here's the thing about Mark Knopfler: he's old. See him now, and he reminds you of nobody so much as of Richard Dreyfuss as the aging music professor in Mr. Holland's Opus. And it's fitting too, because Mark has a distinctly professorial air about him... he looks like the kind of professor you'd really wam to in college - the kind with whom you might go out and have a couple of beers and talk about books and music.
Those of you who, like me, have brought up on a strict diet of Dire Straits music and the Alchemy video, might expect to see Mr. Knopfler with his headband and a shock of unruly hair, dressed in stark black-and-white-and-red, wearing his ironic, amused expression while he moves around the stage, casually playing the lead for Sultans while he checks out what his band-mates are up to, occasionally imitating them even... So it comes as a bit of a shock when Mr. Holland walks out on stage, wearing a white full-sleeve shirt, his almost-bald crown ringed with the kind of hair you associate with somebody's grandfather. He looks, for all the world, like an somewhat elderly professor, who should be walking across manicured university lawns somewhere - not standing on a stage with an electric guitar strapped on, neon lights playing over him. He shouldn't be there, and neither should the screaming, shouting sweaty crowd in which I'm being slowly crushed.
Until he starts to play.
That's when you close your eyes, and get beamed back, straight into Alchemy. The same numbers you played at maximum volume at home, on your 1500 watt speakers... to which you've rocked most of your life... all coming at you live. Mr. Knopfler is, admittedly, less active than before, but still a beast on the lead... and Telegraph Road never sounded so good before.
2 hours of listening to "the voice and guitar of Dire Straits" (which is how he's been billed in all the promos - they even gave out lyrics booklets with incorrect song names), and my night is made. All is worth it - the stench of others' sweat, having the breath slowly squeezed out of me by the crush of people, having to walk half-way to Bandra afterwards...
Even if he does look old, the sultan's still swinging.