The Straits without Mark

To Brighton falls the coup of hosting the warm-up gig for The Straits, featuring original Dire Straits members Alan Clark, Phil Palmer and Chris White, on their first UK tour.

The band enjoyed a great debut at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year and then played a couple of festivals over the summer.

Now they’re on the road, kicking off at Brighton’s Concorde 2 on September 20.

Chris (saxophone) is delighted to discover the huge appetite for Dire Straits music that is still out there, 18 years after the band called it a day.

“I had worked together with Alan, the keyboard player in Dire Straits, and he was thinking of doing some stuff. He and I were approached about doing a charity thing for the Lord’s Taverners at the Albert Hall, and we thought, well, why don’t we do it as The Straits.”

Terence Reis came in on lead vocals and guitar.

“(Original Dire Straits frontman) Mark (Knopfler) wouldn’t want to do it. He has been very clear about not wanting to revisit the Dire Straits material. He has got his own very successful solo stuff going on.”

If The Straits get so big and Mark has a rethink, then “stunning”, says Chris - but personally he can’t see it happening. Instead, The Straits go out with three originals and four new players - and the interest they are uncovering is huge: “It’s all done with the utmost respect for the legacy of Mark’s work. It’s all his songs. Mark sent me an email wishing me good luck for the charity gig.”

Chris worked with Mark from 83 until the band folded, and though he was committed elsewhere when Dire Straits recorded the landmark Brothers In Arms album, his work with the band included two world tours, the On Every Street album, the On The Night album and the legendary Live Aid and Mandela concerts.

“Because I wasn’t on Brothers In Arms, I can say that it was certainly a high point! But actually I liked some of the very early stuff when it was a much smaller band. It had a youthful energy - not that I am suggesting that Brothers In Arms wasn’t youthful! But Brothers In Arms was certainly huge. It was the album that really took the band to the next level.”

As for The Straits, they will perform songs from the classic albums Dire Straits (1978), Communiqué (1979), Making Movies (1980), Love Over Gold (1982), Brothers In Arms (1985) and On Every Street (1991).

“But at the same time, there are a few writers in the band, and the band feels so good in the current format, and we have started to write for it.”

They could be looking at an album of original material next year.

Tickets for the tour on 0844 811 0051 and www.gigsandtours.com. More details on www.thestraits.com.