Setlist History: Dire Straits Live Debuts "Romeo & Juliet"

Dire Straits, while on their On Location Tour 1980-1981, live-debuted two of their most loved songs from Making Movies in Portland, Oregon 33-years ago today.

In 1980, Dire Straits had released their third album that showcased the clean, sparkling tone of Mark Knopfler's smooth guitar and nimble picking.

Their self-titled debut gave us "Sultans of Swing;" the follow up, Communiqué, yielded "Lady Writer;" and Making Movies, co-produced by Jimmy Iovine, showed there was plenty in the well with a trio of romantic singles: "Tunnel of Love," "Romeo & Juliet," and "Skateaway."

In ad in New Music Express advertising the On Location Tour in 1980

Little did Knopfler and his band know that in just four years they would create one of the best-selling rock records of all, Brothers In Arms, which aside from "Money For Nothing," isn't all that different, sonically, from Making Movies.

Some might argue the 1980 effort that sold a cool million records is better than the 1985 monster that moved 30 million units.

Yours truly would probably agree with that argument.

Making Movies, to some, is a more cohesive, love letter from beginning to end with interesting characters, easygoing romance, and subtle guitar runs from a confident musician who doesn't feel the need to show-off his prowess.

What' fascinating about Dire Straits and Knopfler's prolific songwriting abilities is after 1981 they stopped playing "Skateaway" live.

How do you do that to a song with a fantastic video and such a chill vibe that gave birth to both the album title and tour name?

She's making movies on location
She don't know what it means

Dire Straits may have played "Skateaway" and "Tunnel of Love" on an earlier gig on this leg, but our database cannot prove it. So we will go with what we know, which was they were definitely performed in Portland on October 24. The only known bootleg that still exists is of inferior quality.

But the good news is, a week after this show, the band made its way to Los Angeles where they were the musical guests of the Halloween edition of Fridays, the late night ABC comedy and music show (which happened to star Larry David and Michael Richards who would both strike it big in the next decade on Seinfeld) meant to rival Saturday Night Live.

On that episode Dire Straits played two songs: "Skateaway" and "Tunnel of Love."

Another empirical proof of Making Movies' quality is this fun fact.

Of the top 10 songs Dire Straits has played over its long and glorious career, which includes being inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 2018, four are from Making Movies: "Romeo and Juliet," "Solid Rock," "Tunnel of Love" and "Expresso Love."

Just three of their top ten most performed songs are from their big hit album.

In between Making Movies and Brothers in Arms Knopfler was a busy bee. Dire Straits released another studio album in '82, Love over Gold, the super fun four-song EP in '83 called ExtendedancEPlay, their first live album Alchemy in '84.

And in '83 Knopfler produced one of Bob Dylan's finest works in the 1980s, Infidels, which he also provided some of that subtle noodling he mastered on Making Movies.

Just watch and listen to what Knopfler does on this outtake while in the room with two other capable guitarists, Dylan and former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor.

Knopfler in 2019 said he has no interest in a Dire Straits reunion.

The 74-year-old also has no solo dates listed on his website.

However the band has recently released a giant box set of live material called Dire Straits – Live 1978-1992, which comes out in a few weeks.

Don't look too hard for "Skateaway." It's nowhere to be found :(

Karma Police - Please Share:

Most played songs

Last updated: 27 Feb 2024, 16:13 Etc/UTC