Mark Knopfler, Heinz Hall Pittsburgh, PA Oct. 13,2015

By Michael Rampa

Mark Knopfler is best known as the former head and wristband clad front man of the iconic 80s arena rockers, Dire Straits. After the breakup of the group in the early Nineties, the Scottish ax ace embarked on an impressive solo career in 1996 with “Golden Heart.” His eight album solo discography employs styles from Celtic folk to country.

Oddly enough, this tour, in support of his latest, “Tracker,” featured only three songs from the album and omitted the lead single, “Beryl.” It was likely not disappointing to the sold out crowd.  Knopfler’s core demographic is the rabid Dire Straits fan. And 3,000 of them got plenty of it on this night. After promising early on that he was going to “unearth some artifacts,” he devoted a full third of the 18-track evening to Straits classics. The red Stratocaster did the  heavy lifting midway as  he burned through “Sultans of Swing,” and the more atmospheric” Your Latest Trick,” He traded it in for the gleaming National steel for the always mesmerizing “Romeo and Juliet.”

For the composer of “Money For Nothing” one of the most recognizable guitar riffs ever, Knopfler spent a good chunk of the first set  performing his solo work as a sideman, letting his wildly capable A List  band members take their turns shining out front on sax, fiddle and former Straits member Guy Fletcher’s keys. The crowd didn’t get one of the most recognizable riffs ever, but “Money for Nothing” may have paled in comparison to his performance of “Speedway to Nazareth.” With its blistering runs and juiced up echo, is like mainlining adrenaline for five minutes. The lighting effects attempted to keep up with the torrid pace of this next to last number, but Knopfler’s wizardry left the  tech in the dust.

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