Tributes to success

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Apr 2019 Tributes to success

By Derek Mead

In modern music, there has always been much controversy over the role of a tribute act band or group. Generally, they perform popular music from popu­lar groups of a bygone era in a style that gives past and present fans the best of both worlds each side of the millennium.

Examples range from The Beatles and Genesis to more recent acts such as Adele and Take That, both dubious qualifiers and the truly evoca­tive sounds generally date back to the sometimes fading memories of the nineteen seventie1970s.

In this current, often very average musical era, there is undoubtedly a need to re-create uplifting sound, rhythm and atmosphere, and to truly pay tribute to highly-popular original musicians, their bands and their fans to compensate for today’s rather ordinary offerings.

One such act is Money for Nothing, stated to be the No.1 Dire Straits Trib­ute Band and an amazing example of the accurate re-creation of the sound of the original seventies band.

They now tour extensively and are watched by growing numbers of fans who are more than happy to be returned to those distant years during which they were captivated by Dire Straits, and with the music and style they created. They were a rock band playing more gentle melodies than many other bands of the same era, with eccentric sounds and slick vocals that gripped their audiences and will never ever be forgotten.

Not an easy task for a tribute band to con­template but, if Money for Nothing is an exam­ple of ‘Tribute’, we have much to be thankful for, and can be encouraged about the future. This is music from the past now played in the present, and is the best of both worlds.

It seems the electric Dire Straits songs of the seventies, and the style of Money for Nothing, are linking t across the years to produce the highest possible quality of rock music which will, hopefully, become the future in addition to the past.

We must consider both the original Dire Straits band and Money for Nothing to see how they fit together. The Brit­ish rock band Dire Straits was formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler – lead vocals and guitar – David Knopfler – rhythm guitar and backing vocals – John Illsley – bass guitar and backing vocals – with Pick Withers – drums and percussion. Their phe­nomenal success spread over 15 years, 1977 to 1988, then 1991 to 1995. The band sold more than 120 million albums world­wide and were the UK’s first stadium rock band.

So we do not embar­rass other rock bands of the time, we must very quietly mention the unre­lenting Dire Straits suc­cess – Sultans Of Swing – debut album in 1978 becoming a Top 10 hit in the US and UK – then the singles Romeo and Juliet 1981 – Private Investigations 1982 – Twisting by the Pool 1983 – Money for Nothing 1985 (featuring Sting) – Walk Of Life 1986.

They have been described: ‘Make no mistake -they are good – VERY GOOD’, by The Observer and ‘Undoubtedly the BEST Dire Straits Tribute Band in Europe’. They feature all of the Dire Straits hits plus The Bug, 1992, the last single from the album ‘On Every Street’ and also include ‘On the Night’ and ‘Live at the BBC’.

The album Brothers in Arms 1985 sold more than 30 million copies and was the first in UK history to sell a million copies on the CD format, later becoming the fourth best-selling album in UK chart his­tory. Then, in 1996, the album was certi­fied nine times platinum in the US.

They drew their sound from such influenc­es as jazz-folk-country-blues rock-roots, rock from pub rock-contrasting with punk rock – never pop rock. The sound was like no other and is almost impossible to explain and describe and the world did not want an explanation or descrip­tion, merely wanting to listen.

Their music was pop­ular with all breeds of fans and seemed to sat­isfy everyone’s tastes. The manner in which they played and sang often laid-back, almost lazy rock, enabled enthusiasts in the various influences to extract those elements and to hear them individually, as well as hearing rock as a total entity.

The group won numerous awards, including four Grammys, three Brit Awards, and two MTV Music Video Awards. In 2009, they were awarded the Music Heritage Award and at last inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Mark Knopfler dissolved the group in 1988 and then produced the greatest hits album Money for Nothing, reaching No.1 in the UK. In 1991. Dire Straits was reborn with only four members but with new musicians arriving. The final studio album, On Every Street, 1991, was a more reduced success and was said to be underwhelming compared to Brothers In Arms. However, it underwhelmed to sales of eight million copies and No.1 in the UK.

The final album, Live At The BBC, 1995, was a collection of recordings from 1978 to 1981 featuring the original band line-up. In 1995, without any farewell fanfares, Dire Straits became rock history.

Mark Knopfler has never really shown any interest in re-forming the band – never missed the deserved worldwide fame – declined a comeback tour.

Money for Nothing was formed in 2000 as a tribute to Dire Straits. The immense suc­cess of Dire Straits meant the newly-formed tribute band had much to follow, and the abundant energy when energy is required, and also quiet musicality makes Money for Nothing a must-see for any Dire Straits fan or rock enthusiast.

Fronting the band is Aled Williams, founder member, a brilliant guitarist and Mark Knop­fler sound alike. Behind him, the line-up fea­tures top class experienced musicians that make the entire band a worthy Dire Straits tribute. Other founder members are Paul Guy, bass guitar, and Derek Bisset, drums. The newest band members are Alex Lench, rhythm – Carl John, main keyboard, Liam Attwood, second keyboard, and Steve Simmons, saxophone. Lisa Marie is active behind the scenes.

The band studied Dire Straits in considerable depth and their tribute is as close as possible to the real thing. In fact, it could well be that the two bands are approaching a situation where there is very little dif­ference between the sounds they make and where the sound and atmosphere of Dire Straits is being perpet­uated by a tribute band in a manner that has never hap­pened before.

THE MONEY FOR NOTHING stage show has been performed all over Britain, Spain, UAE and the Gulf, at all types of venues and, events – from music festivals to theatres and venues. In 2010, they headlined the main night on Europe’s Biggest Tribute Festival. The band also had the pleasure of perform­ing as show opener for the legendary Roy Wood on part of his Theatre Tour.

In September, 2011, they took their show to India to perform at a sell-out concert, where they headlined an event at one of Bangalore’s largest Amphitheatres. Their special appearance was featured in the world’s largest selling English-language daily newspaper – The Times of India. I

In January, 2015, they also had a very suc­cessful tour of UAE with performances in Bahrain and Dubai – which led to them being tipped as the world’s No.1. They are now taking the UK theatre circuit by storm! Rock has always been a seri­ous musical matter, past and present, and will undoubtedly be so into the future.

Money for Nothing is already being taken very very seriously. They are an exceptional group, impressive and professional, the cur­rent leaders in tribute music, which will give credence to their standards and may well improve the standards of all tribute bands.

In this day and age, there is an obvious opportunity for such bands to become even more established and popular than in the past.

Concert in Horsham

At The Capitol in Horsham on March 22, Money for Nothing presented an evening of Dire Straits greatest hits and album tracks – Money for Nothing – Sultans of Swing – On Every Street -Love Over Gold – Lady Writer – Tunnel of Love – Brothers in Arms – Romeo and Juliet – Private Investigations – So Far Away – Walk of Life and others. This was a tremendous, quite breath-taking concert by the group, and there is obviously a rapport and much mutual respect between The Capi­tol and Money for Nothing, who has recorded a CD of hits live at the venue.

The Capitol itself is also a pleasure to visit with a fine concert hall in which the top Trib­ute band can play to its followers.

Derek Mead (copyright April 2019)