Still Strait down the line...

Dire Straits experience
Dire Straits experience

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dire Straits album ‘Brothers in Arms’ and to mark the occasion fans will be able to enjoy all the hits live.

The Dire Straits Experience began its evolution as The Straits in 2011 with a handful of members from the original band performing to a sold-out charity event at the Royal Albert Hall.

One night I saw someone play the saxophone on TV and thought ‘wow, that’s great’ and I went in to school the next day and said that’s what I wanted to play

Chris White

That intended one-off concert has snowballed by popular demand to tours in the UK and the USA.

Now the band, which includes original member Chris White, bring their latest show to Rothes Halls in Glenrothes next week.

But ahead of thegig on Thursday, April 23, Chris took time out to speak to the Press about what people can expect.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to it.

“We have done very little in Scotland at all so we’re looking forward to getting up and playing there.

“In terms of tunes we have got the Dire Straits hits and some early ones.

‘‘It’s a good cross section of the back catalogue.”

Chris’ career spans almost 40 years in the music industry and he’s known for the iconic saxophone sound that has graced some of the biggest hits of the last few decades.

He’s shared the stage with some of the icons of the 20th century including Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Robbie Williams and of course Mark Knopfler.

His love affair with the saxophone started at a young age, but what was it about that particular instrument that made him decide that was the one for him?

“I still don’t really know,” he said.

“As an 11 or 12 year old I played violin.

“I could do that, but didn’t really love it.

“One night I saw someone play the saxophone on TV and thought ‘wow, that’s great’ and I went in to school the next day and said that’s what I wanted to play.

“They had one in a cupboard and my music teacher said to take that and see what I could do with it.

“Easily within a month I knew that was what I was going to be doing.”

His desire to earn his way as a musician led Chris to move to London in his late teens and he found himself playing live and sessioning for some of the up and coming bands of the time.

His first big break came in 1981 when he was asked to play on Nick Heyward’s album ‘North Of A Miracle’ which went on to sell over 100,000 copies.

And following this success, his reputation continued to build, playing and recording with artists such as Aztec Camera, Chris DeBurgh and Paul McCartney.

But it was in 1983 that the call came from Mark Knopfler when Dire Straits were a young, successful band.

Within two years the band’s success had rocketed and on his 30th birthday Chris played the Live Aid concert with Dire Straits.

Two world tours and several albums kept Chris working with Dire Straits for many years until the band parted ways in the early 90s.

After Dire Straits he continued to work as a player and songwriter, recording and doing live work with many more artists including Ray Charles and Mick Jagger.

He was one of the members of the original Dire Straits band to take part in the gig ‘for one night only’ at the Royal Albert Hall and has been part of what has become The Dire Straits Experience since then.

Having gone on to perform in the UK, Europe and further afield including Australia and New Zealand, they are now on their latest tour of the country.

“It’s great to be out on the road,” Chris continued.

“We’ve done it in a couple of formats for a while now.

“It’s amazing how many peoplewant to hear it live and it’s still great to play it again.”

So what is it about the Dire Straits music that he thinks has kept it alive and still popular with audiences around the world today?

“That’s the big question.

“I think Mark Knopfler was, and is, a great song writer and I think he’s written some stunning songs in his time.

“Back then it was groundbreaking for a small four piece pop band to do something that crossed into almost classical.

“The way he (Mark) approached it, it was much more complicated music, therefore it appealed to another spectrum of people.

“Re-visiting these songs a this point in my career they feel as fresh as in the 80s.

“I always love playing it and it feels just as good now as it did back then.

“The reason why what we’re doing is still going is because people want to come and see it.

“They want to come and see it because it’s still fresh.”

And the rest of 2015 looks busy for Chris.

He said: “We toured Australia at the end of last year and they want us to go back, which might be at the end of this year or the start of next year.

“We’ve also got festivals in the UK and Switzerland.

“So it’s starting to look like a good year for The Dire Straits Experience and I’m doing some other things myself too.”

The Dire Straits Experience play Rothes Halls, Glenrothes on Thursday, April 23.