Self Care – Great Guitar Solos: Dire Straits Play Sultans of Swing Live

Man I’m doing great keeping up with series, aren’t I? *sigh*

Sorry. This was supposed to go up yesterday at 12, and the dog was supposed to go up on Thursday… all well. I’ll put this up, now, despite there already being a Self Care post today…


This is Dire Straits playing Sultans of Swing live, and jamming it out. I rather enjoy it. A couple amazing guitar solos from Mark Knopfler, too. The first one starts at 3:23 and ends at 4:06. The second one starts at 4:50 and ends with the end of the video at 10:46.



  1. chigau (違う) says

    I never particularly cared for Sultans of Swing.
    But it did turn me on to Dire Straits…
    Lo, these many years ago…

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I’m just going back through your archive of these things in case you hadn’t picked this, so I could recommend it. You got there before me. But I want to say something about it.

    The album version of SoS is a low-key, pretty good song, probably the best on their eponymous debut album but that’s not saying much -- there’s no hint of the brilliance of what followed (at least to my ears). Even more surprising is that the song FADES OUT after only 45 seconds of finger-picking solo.

    What’s particularly genius here is how Knopfler took those 45 seconds and turned them into SIX MINUTES that takes the audience on a journey, manipulating their energy levels in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else achieve.

    Consider: the drum lead in to the solo at 4:43 already says to fans who think they know the song, “Strap in, we’re taking this somewhere”. The next minute is just riff after riff of sublime finger picking most players can only dream of.

    Then at 6:04 there’s a lighting change and everything just…. slows… down. We’re far from the album version already, but Knopfler’s barely started. We cut to keyboards, with just the odd twang from the guitar as puncuation. It’s at this point you can hear the audience clapping along. They’re calming down, having no IDEA what’s coming.

    Then after almost a minute to allow the song to draw breath, Knopfler’s strat starts to sing. Just a few notes at first, quiet enough that the audience are still clearly audible. He’s motionless, casual, nothing fast or showy or pyrotechnic… yet. At 7:26 he even throws back to the keyboards.

    And the theme just repeats, and builds, again and again, with drums building the energy, for a whole minute… then changes again to another repeating theme for another twenty seconds. Knopfler’s in motion by now, and at 8:52, the strats stops singing and starts screaming. Any other guitarist would have this as the finale, but it just keeps going up and up, getting faster, higher, more, then at 9:16 chucking in a perfectly in context but still insanely self indulgent and fast bit of fingerpicking.

    Then at 9:30 the recognisable theme comes back, but the energy and speed are NOTHING like the album -- the only thing left from that is the ringing clarity of every. Single. Note.

    And then, finally, the band enter what is recognisably the climax at 9:55… and FIFTEEN SECONDS later, MK drops in a little goodbye noodly bit, before … cut to black. Just fantastic. I think it’s right up there with Pulse as the greatest piece of live guitar ever caught on film.

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