Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH, USA – August 5, 1985
Disc 1 (78:55) Ride Across The River, Expresso Love, One World, Romeo And Juliet, Private Investigation, Sultans Of Swing, Why Worry, Walk Of Life, Two Young Lovers, Money For Nothing, Wild West End
Disc 2 (71:55) Tunnel Of Love/ Band Intro, Bothers In Arms, Solid Rock. Bonus Tracks: The Polytechnic, Leeds, England – January 30, 1978: Southbound Again, Eastbound Train, Down To The Waterline, In The Gallery, Water Of Love, Setting Me Up, Me And My Friends, Real Girl, Sultans Of Swing
Dire Straits released Brothers In Arms in May 1985 and was the band’s fifth studio album, what happened after that was nothing short of a phenomena. It spent nine weeks atop Billboards charts, spawned two massive hits in Walk Of Life and Money For Nothing, the latter fueled by a memorable video on MTV and would garner the group two prestigious Grammy awards. Boasting a total of 30 million copies sold worldwide it would put the band in the center of the media eye and propel them to the world’s largest stages.
For the tour to support the record, the band would tour Europe and Australia with an extensive American tour in the late summer of ‘85. Early in the tour the band would play Blossom Music Center outside of Cleveland in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, one of the larger “sheds” in the area that boasts a 23,000 capacity. The concert was recorded professionally and the resulting document is one of the best sounding tapes in the groups “unofficial” catalog. The soundboard from Blossom has circulated for some time, on vinyl as American Tour 1975 (The Swinging Pig TSP 088-2) and on CD as One World (Pipeline PPL 505), Live USA Vol 1 (Imtrat IMT 900.069), Live USA Vol 2 (Imtrat IMT 900.070), American Tour 1985 (The Swinging Pig TSP CD-088-2), and High Falls (Baby Capone BC 022/2). An impressive list for good reason, the recording is an excellent perfectly balanced recording that if one could pick apart may be just a bit flat sounding. There is enough audience noise mixed in to provide atmosphere and the concert is a great listening experience. For this tour the group was augmented by two keyboard players, a sax / flute player as well as the core band. The larger contingency was needed to recreate the sound from the record, and it certainly worked and they can easily recreate that 80’s sound to perfection.
The set list featured a nice chunk from Brothers In Arms, as well songs from the band’s back catalog, except for Communique all records are represented. What makes for a great listening experience is the fact that the band do not play note for note but expand upon them led by the brilliant playing of Mark Knopfler. Highlights are a rocking version of Expresso Love and Private Investigations featuring nice fat bass runs and sax playing as well. Sultans Of Swing is played at a bit faster tempo and does not suffer for it, and Walk Of Life and Money For Nothing are crowd pleasers. I also really enjoyed the 16 minute version of Tunnel Of Love and a beautifully somber Brothers In Arms that features Knopfler’s incredibly expressive yet sparse guitar that is quite moving.
Always giving value for the money The Don has included some bonus material, from what I could find on the Internet, there are no previous releases of the recording from Leeds in 1978. The recording is excellent soundboard and features the band’s set as an opening act for The Talking Heads. Clear and well balanced with very little audience mixed in, this recording is a prime example of early Dire Straits at their best. It is not complete, Southbound Again fades at the 3:50 mark and Eastbound Train fades and I am guessing that Six Blade Knife is missing from the recording. The set contains two non album tracks, Real Girl and Me And My Friends (aka Move It Away), the latter is rare and by far the best live recording to circulate. Interesting to hear Mark introduce Sultans of Swing to absolutely no fanfare, their first album would not be released for another 6 months. I found that I enjoyed the bonus material even more than the main recording, really great performance here.
The packaging is typical Godfathers, tri gatefold sleeve adorned with pictures from the ‘85 era, the backstage shot of the group on the inside is great, looks a bit tense. Another well thought out release from Godfathers, it has been in and out for the past few months and deserves some recognition, for hardcore fans the addition of the bonus material is worth the price alone, for the casual fan you get to hear the band in all their glory, all in excellent sound quality.