This week I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the Dire Straits Experience at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem (with thanks to my friend LC for suggesting it).
I didn’t remember all the songs (and to be fair, I’m not a die-hard Dire Straits fan). But the Mark Knopfler feel was there – the voice, the guitar solos, the unique style. One of the members of the Dire Straits Experience was in Dire Straits and mentioned that the last time he was in Jerusalem was in 1985 and he was so glad to be back in this special city.
The last time I saw a concert in the Sultan’s Pool was also in 1985. I went with my cousin to see a popular Israeli band, Mashina. I was so impressed that my aunt bought me the record (and yes, I do mean the LP vinyl black round thing you play on a record player). There was a US kids group too, but I don’t remember anything about them. Most everyone was there to see Mashina.
We don’t get a lot of big names in Jerusalem. We only just upgraded our stadium, but I’m not sure anyone really wants to play in it because Jerusalem is complicated. Louis C.K. recently came to Jerusalem for a show, but his comedy tends to be complicated and we have a lot more native English speakers in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv.
We have more small venues. One of the best is the Sultan’s Pool. In ancient times, it was a reservoir and in fact, an arch with a faucet and an inscription in Arabic still stands to remind us of the history. Now it’s an open-air amphitheater under the walls of the Old City.
Between ancient times and modern times, or more specifically, between 1948 and 1967, the Sultan’s Pool was no-man’s-land. Jordanian snipers sat on the walls of the Old City and guarded the border that ran through the valley.
I think it’s interesting that the Sultan’s Pool is the top of the valley called Guy Ben Hinnom. Slurring the words together you get the vocalization of “gehinom” or the Jewish equivalent of purgatory. The Bible mentions the valley (guy) of Ben Hinnom as a place of child sacrifice (II Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31 and 32:35). And yes, from 1948 to 1967, the border (aka the Green Line) ran through this valley.
The saxophonist, who had played with Dire Straits in Jerusalem in 1985, mentioned that they’ve played in many different countries in a variety of political situations, but it was music that brought everyone together. And he’s right. Today, we’ve turned the no-man’s-land gehinom into a valley filled with music.
Here’s a video of a few collected clips that I took at the concert. The quality isn’t great, but it gives you the experience of the Experience. At the very end, I passed a street musician – a haredi guitarist – and it sounded like he had been inspired by the concert.
I was far away from the stage – and now I’m a little bit sad that they didn’t play “So Far Away.”
Concerts today – pictures of people taking pictures/video with their phones!
Still the light show was fun! The noise curfew is at 11:00pm and so after 2.5 hours, we said Good Night to the Dire Straits Experience.
“So Far Away” – Dire Straits