Follow Us:

Dreams do come true when you play for a cause

Gopali Bandyopadhyay | New Delhi |

For die-hard fans of the iconic British band Dire Straits, the concert on 17 March at Leisure Valley in Gurgaon, was an unmissable treat. The band performing was The Dire Straits Experience (DSE) supporting the 100 Pipers 'Play for a Cause' concert. The initiative Be Remembered for Good will focus on helping provide sustainable drinking water to seven villages in Rajasthan from the revenue generated through ticket sales.

The DSE members comprise original Dire Straits band mates Chris White on saxophonist, flute, percussion, vocals and Chris Whitten on drums, supported in the lead by Terence Reis ~ lead vocals and guitar, Tim Walters ~vocals and guitar, Simon Carter on piano, organ and keyboards, Danny Schogger on piano, organ and keyboards, and Paul Geary ~ vocals and bass guitar.

At a gathering the previous evening, Chris White and Terence Reis spoke about their roots, the evolution of music, how electronic instruments helped the band to expand from a small rock band to 11 members at one time, with particular reference to the music in 'Brothers-in-Arms' and the effects of the Internet on upcoming musicians and that music had come full circle.

Chris explained that upcoming musicians have started performing in pubs and restaurants, similar to the musicians of the 1970s. But they (upcoming musicians) have to cope with the vast competition introduced by the internet which has made it harder for the younger generation to enter the scene. There is stiff competition as anybody can upload his or her performance and become an overnight sensation.

“Music is a live thing,” Chris White added that the golden era of music was the 60s onwards and to be a part of that is a gift beyond gift. He spoke about the incredible power of music, that it brings together people from across nations and cultures.

Looking back he said, it all started with Mark Knopfler inside a studio when they were composing and recording for a film track, adding I didn’t leave (the studio) for three days!

Incidentally, Mark Knopfler had performed in the country earlier. The Dire Straits disbanded in 1995 when Knopfler went on to have a successful solo career. Chris White and Terence Reis formed the Dire Straits Experience to perform in shows. Here are excerpts from an exclusive one-on-one interaction.

Tell us about you association with Seagram’s 100 Pipers 'Play for a Cause' initiative and how important is it for a musician to get involved with social causes to spread awareness.

Chris White (CW): I think it’s a very individual thing. I’ve always wanted to come and play in India. It’s the first time for the band in India. We are very excited. I’m one of the luckiest people to do the thing I’m passionate about. I come from a humble background. To be involved in an initiative like this feels absolutely right, because that’s where I belong. And to be able to give something back is an opportunity not to miss out. I don’t know how many people get influenced but if you can change one person’s mind, that’s a job well done.

Terence Reis (TR): I think it can also be a hornet’s nest for all sorts of reasons none of which are healthy but if I can speak freely about this it’s got nothing to do with the band. We’ve got things going on in this planet now where people are only retreating to their own corners. We need to work together, now more than ever. I come from Africa ~ there’s drought, famine. To see it firsthand there are certain elemental things which when you have the opportunity, it’s not just the cause, that has the integrity behind it as much as the label. So we had to make sure that this one (Seagram’s 100 Pipers) had a long track record.

You will be playing in India for the first time. How does it feel?

CW: I’m looking forward to playing, hope everyone who has come has a good time. Would love to come again! If you will have me…

TR: It’s lovely to meet the people as well. It’s nice after a show to talk to people afterwards. It feels great!

We lost many legendary musicians in 2016. What impact did it have on you as artists?

CW: The loss of such huge musicians definitely jolted us. We are deeply saddened by the loss. Certainly, there can’t be another David Bowie, or George Michael or Prince. Having said that, I do believe ‘Music’ is a live thing. Hence there can never be a void. If there is a star today, there will be another tomorrow. Every generation will have a new star. I have great faith in the future of music

How difficult is it to play DS music almost like the original tracks?

CW: We try to change the music every time we play and make mistakes…

TR:  that are noticed! (laughs). So it’s difficult.

Tell us something about Walk of Life.

CW: It’s one of the easiest of the songs, happier song. It’s upbeat.

TR: Dire Straits manager, Ed Bicknell had told us that when they recorded it, Mark did not even want it on the record because the drummer was speeding up. Ed said, You’re an idiot. It’s gonna be a hit, and so they put it on anyway and it went on to become a hit!

Any 'crazy fan moment' when something funny happened?

TR: People ask us strange things. The one that gets me was in Spain. It’s actually Chris' story. This guy came up to us and pulled out a huge poster with Mark’s picture. So Chris said, 'That’s not me', (shrugs) and then signed it!

CW: I understand this perfectly. When I first wrote with Paul McCartney, he walked up to me and talked to me for about 20 minutes and I couldn’t say a thing. All I kept thinking was, That’s Paul McCartney, That’s Paul McCartney.

You can trace DSE's roots to a fusion of a brilliant mix of funk and jazz combined with classic rock to form the band’s originality.

Terence Reis is the only person on the planet who is able to play and sing like Mark Knopfler and also maintain his own integrity and identity. He replicates Mark’s guitar and singing style with such brilliance, it's extraordinary to say the least. One can easily mistake it for Mark on stage. Terence’s voice has the identical raspy yet mellow timbre.

The band’s fans span across generations and from every corner of the globe. They have been hooked to the unique sound of DS and their brilliant compositions for four decades. That’s a record by itself.

The concert at Leisure Valley Garden in Gurgaon turned out to be quite an unforgettable night with numbers from Dire Straits' popular albums being performed.

The crowd grew louder when one of their most successful tracks, Walk of Life was played. It was a pleasure to listen to a scintillating solo by Chris White on the saxophone.

When they started with the haunting lyrics of Brother In Arms, a whole generation of fans listened with pounding hearts even as the whoops of euphoric youngsters broke into the stirring electric atmosphere.

As DSE's performance for the evening came to its close with the band members holding hands and taking a bow, the crowd still hungry for more music thundered, One more! and were rewarded with the big number of the day. Dire Straits iconic track, Money For Nothing made the crowd delirious. I want my….I want my……I want my…..I want my MTV! resonated all around even as everyone present joined the chorus.

It was not surprising to see that the huge crowd of DS fans that comprised every age from young 21-year-olds to those with salt-pepper hair, swinging with abandon to the music of the Sultans of Swing. The radiant faces emitted one united expression of joy that could only translate into Dreams do come true!