Tour line-up:

Mark Knopfler

Guitar, vocals
David Knopfler

Guitar, vocals

John Illsley

Bass, vocals

Pick Withers



In 1973, Mark Knopfler was a guitar player in the band Brewers Droop which he joined for a few months. The band also released an album called The booze brothers. Mark took up a job as a lecturer at Loughton College in Essex and went on to form a working band with friends at the college calling themselves the Café Racers. Meanwhile, Mark’s brother, David, moved to London and shared a flat with bass player John Illsley at Farrer House on Deptford’s Crossfield Estate, South-East London. During his period with Brewer’s Droop Mark had been impressed with drummer Pick Withers, so Pick was invited to the Farrer House flat and the four musicians – Mark, John, David and Pick – began doing gigs together under the name of Mark’s old band, the Café Racers. A friend of Pick’s suggested a new name for the band; Dire Straits. Before the release of their first album, Dire Straits already played quite a lot of shows. On some shows, they were the support act for Talking Heads, Squeeze, Climax Blues Band and Styx. On 5th June 1978, Dire Straits were special guests on a concert of Gerry Rafferty. Colin Bodiam (who used to design and silkscreen posters for the Albany Empire and showing a poster for the concert of 2nd July 1978 on the photo) said that Dire Straits also played at a club in Deptford called "Broadway Queen" (13th September 1977) to an audience of just to 18 people, 9 of them were guests.

Click here for two nice photos of their third public performance. Interesting to see is that Mark's Fender (serial #68354) still has the bare-wood finish here. Not much later, it was painted red.

In 2009, Mark Knopfler and John Illsley attended a short ceremony in Deptford to unveil a plaque on the site of the first Dire Straits performance. The award, presented by the PRS (Performing Right Society) for music, is part of a national campaign to highlight areas where significant musical events have taken place. The special plaque has been mounted outside the ground floor of Farrer House, Church Street, Deptford where the original group once shared a council flat and performed their first ever gig in 1977. In fact, this very first concert was as under the name "Cafe Racers". When a friend saw the bands dire financial circumstances, he suggested to call themselves Dire Straits. That was the name the band used from then on and the rest is history.

There is a bit of a mystery when it comes to the exact date of this first gig though. The Brothers in arms tour book says it is 9th of July 1977, but that is in fact incorrect. It was actually the day of the very first Crossfields Festival, 26th June 1977. Squeeze was the closing act of the festival and this old flyer is the proof for the exact date.

Update 7th February 2022: David Knopfler found his old diary and that lists the first show a week earlier on the 18th June 1977. Now the question is: was the show actually postponed to the 26th, or was the show on the 26th cancelled? I think it is unlikely that on both dates festivals took place. He also mentioned a gig on 28th August 1977 which I added to the concert list below.


Official recordings made during this tour

Concert Bootleg release Official release
Leeds (30.01.1978)
Chester (19.04.1978)

Total concerts played: 80


  26.06.1977     Farrer House Crossfields Deptford (London) UK
  28.07.1977     Albany Empire Deptford (London) UK
  02.08.1977     Tramshed Woolwich UK
  28.08.1977     The Nashville Room West London UK
  04.09.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  10.09.1977     Albany Empire Deptford (London) UK (evening gig)
Clapham Common Bandstand London UK (afternoon gig)
  11.09.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK (evening gig)
  13.09.1977     Broadway Queen Deptford (London) UK
  18.09.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  22.09.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  25.09.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  12.10.1977     Rock Garden, Covent Garden (London) UK
  15.10.1977     Dingwalls Chalk Farm Camden Lock (London) UK
  20.10.1977     Rock Garden Covent Garden (London) UK
  28.10.1977     Bedford Bedford Hill London UK
  01.11.1977     Dingwalls Chalk Farm Camden Lock (London) UK
  02.11.1977     Rock Garden Covent Garden London UK
  04.11.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  08.11.1977     Rock Garden Covent Garden (London) UK
  11.11.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  12.11.1977     Leveller London UK
  16.11.1977     Rock Garden Covent Garden (London) UK
  18.11.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  25.11.1977     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  28.11.1977     Rock Garden Covent Garden (London) UK
  29.11.1977     Albany Empire Deptford (London) UK
  09.12.1977     Front Row Festival, Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  13.12.1977     Dingwalls Chalk Farm Camden Lock (London) UK
  15.12.1977     Rock Garden Covent Garden (London) UK
  17.12.1977     Champers Wine Bar London UK
  19.12.1977     Loughton College Essex UK
  21.12.1977     Dingwalls Chalk Farm (London) UK

  ??.??.1977     Broadway Queen Club Deptford (London) UK


  10.01.1978     Dingwalls Chalf Farm (London) UK
  13.01.1978     Rock Garden Covent Garden (London) UK
  17.01.1978     Nashville Kensington (London) UK
  20.01.1978     University Sheffield UK
  21.01.1978     University Manchester UK
  22.01.1978     Eric's Liverpool UK
  23.01.1978     Outlook Club Doncaster UK
  24.01.1978     Friars Aylesbury UK
  25.01.1978     University Southampton UK
  26.01.1978     University Leicester UK
  27.01.1978     Polytechnic Newcastle UK
  28.01.1978     Polytechnic Huddersfield UK
  29.01.1978     Roundhouse Chalk Farm London UK
  30.01.1978     Polytechnic Leeds UK
  01.02.1978     Top Rank Brighton UK
  02.02.1978     Barbarella's Birmingham UK
  03.02.1978     Civic Hall St.Albans UK
  04.02.1978     Oasis Swindon UK
  05.02.1978     Greyhound Park Lane Croydon UK 
  14.03.1978     Marquee Club Wardour Street London UK
  18.03.1978     Paris Theatre Lower Regent Street London UK
  19.03.1978     Chester College UK
  21.03.1978     Marquee Club Wardour Street London UK
  28.03.1978     Marquee Club Wardour Street London UK
  01.04.1978     Hope & Anchor Islington (London) UK
  05.04.1978     Honky Tonk Wimbledon (London) UK
  10.04.1978     Arts Centre Poole UK
  11.04.1978     Marquee Club Wardour Street London UK
  19.04.1978     Quaintway's Club Chester UK
  03.05.1978     Lyceum London UK
  04.05.1978     Hippodrome Birmingham UK
  05.05.1978     University Lancaster UK
  06.05.1978     Queen Margaret Union Glasgow Scotland
  07.05.1978     Apollo Theatre Manchester UK
  08.05.1978     City Hall Sheffield UK
  09.05.1978     Top Rank Cardiff UK
  10.05.1978     Castaways Plymouth UK
  11.05.1978     Arts Centre Poole UK
  12.05.1978     Town Hall Torquay UK
  13.05.1978     Polytechnic Leicester UK
  14.05.1978     Hippodrome Bristol UK
  18.05.1978     Albany Empire Deptford (London) UK
  22.05.1978     Theatre Mogador Paris France
  23.05.1978     Congresgebouw Den Haag The Netherlands
  24.05.1978     Musikhalle Hamburg Germany
  25.05.1978     Neue Welt Berlin Germany
(cancelled due to illness Styx band member)
  28.05.1978     Circus Krone Munich Germany
(cancelled due to illness Styx band member)
  29.05.1978     Erlangen Stadthalle Nuremberg Germany
(cancelled due to illness Styx band member)
  30.05.1978     Stadthalle Offenbach Germany
(cancelled due to illness Styx band member)
  31.05.1978     Rhein-Neckar Halle Heidelberg (cancelled due to illness Styx band member)
  01.06.1978     Volkshaus Zurich Switserland (cancelled due to illness Styx band member)
  05.06.1978     Odeon Theatre Edinburgh Scotland 

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