John Illsley performing The Life And Times Of Dire Straits: A Q & A Of Music And Memories at The Lowdham Village Hall Nottinghamshire on Friday 22nd November 2019

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

John Illsley, bass guitarist and founding member of 70s band Dire Straits brought his Q & A of Music And Memories to a packed Lowdham Village Hall last night, and thoroughly entertained from the off.

The distinctive sound of Dire Straits with guitarist brothers Mark and David Knopfler and drummer Pick Withers sold over 120 million albums, with their fifth album, Brothers In Arms selling over 45 million before the band disbanded in 1995.

So it was expected that this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee would have some tales to tell and led by Paul Cummins (ex Dire Straits Management) he took the audience on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

With a rear screen that projected photographs that illustrated his stories, he recalled what it was like to tour for two weeks in a transit van supporting Talking Heads, playing the Hope & Anchor, his Live Aid experience and his life in a London council flat when they were told that they had sold 25,000 copies of Brothers in Arms in America, 20,000 more than they had sold in the UK, explaining that the album that went on to be the eighth bestselling album in UK chart history, was a really slow burner.

But it was the music that was the real highlight of the evening. On stage with his band; Robbie McIntosh, an amazing guitarist playing all Knopfler’s solos as well as adding his own touch to the music, Steve Smith on keyboards and vocals, and Hannah Robinson with her acoustic guitar and fabulous vocals, Illsley delivered all of the Dire Straits classics.

The first half saw them deliver a wonderful slower version of Romeo And Juliet and a sing along version of Sultan Of Swing. The second half had fans favourites Money For Nothing, So far Away and On Every Street.

The newer material from the 70 year olds ninth solo album sat comfortably alongside the much loved Dire Straits classics, with Coming Up For Air and Streets Of Heaven written for his current wife, adding a reflective edge to the set.

Finishing their main set with Brothers In Arms they didn’t leave the stage but rounded off with Where Do You Think Your Going, leaving the stage to a standing ovation from an appreciative audience that had taken a trip back to a time when lead singers wore head bands and guitar music could still be heard on MTV.