Dire Straits – Newcastle Polytechnic, 3rd November 1978

The first time I saw Dire Straits at Newcastle Poly (now University of Northumbria) on 3rd November 1978. In those days it was difficult to get into gigs at the Poly unless you were a student so you had to stand outside and try and get someone to sign you in. As luck would have it as me and my mate Keith were standing there two girls I’d met queuing for Eric Clapton tickets outside the City Hall came along and they signed us in!

I’d seen Dire Straits on the OGWT and subsequently bought their first album so I was looking forward to seeing them. I can’t remember what they played but I suspect they played the entire first album and possibly a couple of new songs that ended up on Communique. I seem to recall that when they came back for the encore somebody shouted for Sultans of Swing to which Knopfler replied “we’ve already played it” The response was play it again so they did!

(photo not from gig – photographer unknown)

The gig finished quite late and my friend had to phone his dad to come and pick us up which didn’t go down very well! It was usually my dad that got lumbered but I think he was away so it was good for someone else to have to do it! As we were waiting at the side of the stage someone asked us if we wanted to go and meet the band so naturally we said yes! We were escorted backstage and sat taking to the band in a room. Someone passed me a joint which I then offered to both my friend and Knopfler but both refused!

My mate who played the guitar asked Knopfler about his playing style to which he replied that he just got sick of dropping plectrums! I got him to sign my ticket (shown above -the other side just said admit one so it’s probably a good job I got Mark Knopfler to sign it) When I asked him to sign it he said why? I replied because you’ll be massive one day! Shame I never got the chance to say “told you so!”

Setlist was probably something like

Down to the Waterline
Six Blade Knife
Once Upon a Time in the West
Lady Writer
Single Handed Sailor
Water of Love
In the Gallery
Follow Me Home
What’s the Matter Baby
Sultans of Swing

Ticket price was £1

Support was Lee fardon & The Legionaires

4 Replies to “Dire Straits – Newcastle Polytechnic, 3rd November 1978”

  1. Hi,do I remember correctly that there was hardly anyone there at the gig?
    I worked at the poly as a tech,we had to supply a couple of leads for the band and being staff I got in for free,but I remember the hall being empty?.
    As you know Sultan’s of Swing finally made the charts in 79 as a re release cheers

  2. I was an architectural student studying at Newcastle in 1978. A friend asked me if I wanted to go to a gig. ‘Who’s playing’? ‘Not sure – but I think they’re a country and western band’? It didn’t sound too inviting, but in the absence of anything better to do I decided to go along anyway.
    I can’t remember how many people were there – my recollection is that the hall was pretty full but it was very dark so difficult to tell. As we were waiting for the band to come on do I recall someone nudging me convinced that Eric Burdon was standing just behind us (he might have been?).
    Then one single spotlight cut through the dark to illuminate a single guitarist – and the first notes of Down to the Waterline…….
    A life changing moment – best country and western band I had ever seen!

  3. I was a business studies student at the time and went along again because I loved live music and there was nothing better to do. I have spent the last 45 years telling people I saw Dire Straits for 80pence ! I do remember Sultans of Swing but the rest of the gig is a bit of a blur – probably down to copious quantities of of Dryboroughs Scotch Bitter which I think was about 25p a pint! Happy Days!

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