Review: Sultans of Swingers @ The Bell By The Green

Andy Fawthrop

 

Thursday night is not a traditionally busy night on the musical calendar in Devizes, so it was a rare treat to have somewhere different to fall into this week. I’m not normally a great fan of tribute bands to be honest, but Dire Straits are a particular favourite of mine, so I thought I’d give it a go – a sort of Private Investigation if you like.

 
Just as a generalisation (and bear with me on this one) – my belief is that a tribute band needs to look like their heroes (preferred, but not absolutely necessary) and to sound like them (absolutely vital). Otherwise, what’s the point? Sultans of Swingers didn’t really do either in my opinion. To misquote Eric Morecambe – they played all the right notes, in the right order. But beyond that, the magic wasn’t really there. So much of Dire Straits’ original distinctive sound depended on Knopfler’s vocals and on the lead guitar riffs, but these guys just didn’t cut it on that basis. “Money For Nothing” was a shadow of its glorious self, and played at a tempo way too slow. “Twisting By The Pool”, as another example, instead of being upbeat and exciting, with a sense of fun, was a bit low on revs. And “Heavy Fuel” was heavy work. You’ll have gathered by now that I didn’t really enjoy this performance. Just far too plodding and pedestrian for my taste. And I wasn’t alone – several people that I spoke to at the bar agreed with me.

 
Having said that, there was a good crowd, a good atmosphere and a lot of love in the room. So plenty of other people were clearly enjoying it. But not my cup of tea, I’m afraid.

 
I could have concluded that it was “Money For Nothing” but that would be a bit unfair, as the gig was actually free entry. And thumbs up to The Bell By The Green for getting that big back room open, and filled with live music. Another good Devizes venue. Let’s hope that there’s plenty more to come where that came from.

 

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