REVIEW: Mark Knopfler, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

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HE came, he saw, but unfortunately, local hero Mark Knopfler failed to conquer.

It was supposed to be the big homecoming gig of the famous musical son of Newcastle, but the hoped-for fireworks failed to materialise.

And really, he only has himself to blame.

The crowd were up for it and there was a definite buzz of anticipation before he took to the stage, but that’s where the fun ended.

The cavernous arena is built for big shows, so if you’re going to go solo, you need plenty of back-up. But there were no big screens, pyrotechnics or eye-catching sets to support the performer.

Knopfler decided to let his music do the talking, and with a back catalogue like his that would surely be no problem. It was.

Instead of milking the old Dire Straits favourites, Knopfler teased out his new material. Nice for Mark and his die-hard fans, but a bit of damp squib for those more familiar with the chart-topping faves of his MTV heyday.

We should have been dancing in the aisles to Walk of Life, or rocking out to Sultans of Swing, instead we had ripples of applause and the occasional tapping of toes to tracks from his new album Privateering. No mayhem, only malaise.

That’s not to say there were no highs. Romeo and Juliet was faultless, but that came nine songs in.

Telegraph Road too was a barnstormer, but too much time was spent putting us through the newer material.

I’ve no doubt it was good, and certainly the musicianship of the band could not be faulted... but where were the soaring heights of old? Not quite Money for Nothing, but too darned close for comfort.