What started as a one-off performance of Dire Straits songs for charity has ballooned into a world tour that lands at the South Shore this week.
The Straits perform the songs of Dire Straits at the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa Theater Friday night.
Dire Straits had a string of international success from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s with hits like “Walk of Life,” “Money for Nothing” and “Sultans of Swing.” Lead singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler disbanded the group around 1995 to pursue a solo career, but the songs have carried on.
The Straits includes Chris White, who played saxophone on a pair of Dire Straits albums and the Brothers In Arms tour, and Alan Clark, who joined Dire Straits in 1980 as their first keyboard player and played on every Dire Straits record from 1982’s “Love Over Gold” onward.
Clark said he was blown by the response from the audience to the Straits’ first performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2011.
“It was such a huge success that night that we decided to stay together and do some more shows and we’ve kept going ever since,” Clark said during a Tuesday phone interview.
In addition to Clark and White, the Straits includes Michael Feat (bass), Adam Phillips (guitar), Jamie Squire (keyboards, guitar, percussion), Stever Ferrone (drums) and Terence Reis (vocals, guitar). Bassist Mike DuClos and drummer Andy Treacey have temporarily filled in for Feat and Ferrone for this leg of the band’s tour.
One of the keys that set the band in motion was Clark’s discovery of Reis, who is from South Africa. Knopfler has a unique style of singing and guitar playing, and Clark said he didn’t want someone to just mimic Knopfler’s talents. Hearing Reis’ finger-picking guitar playing and singing on Internet clips hooked Clark right away.
“It works extremely well because it’s a good blend of the original Mark thing and Terence doing his own thing,” Clark said. “It’s not a copy. It’s a genuine experience.”
The band has songs ready to record and Clark sees the Straits as the next stage of Dire Straits.
“I see this band as a continuation, really, of Dire Straits and then we’ll start adding our own original music to it exactly the way Dire Straits would,” Clark said. “We’ll always play the Dire Straits hits just as Dire Straits would always play the Dire Straits hits.”