Although Portobelle Belle from Dire Straits’ second album Communiqué was played on so many tours, it seemed that there are no live videos of this song at all. It was played e.g. on each gig of the Love over Gold tour in 1982/3 which ended in the Alchemy live video concert but just this song was not included on the Alchemy video, neither on the original vinyl album or CD, nor on the VHS tape or on the recently reissued DVD/blueray version (an incomplete audio version was included on the greatest hits compilation CD Money for Nothing).
It was just a few weeks ago that I found the following video on youtube which in fact seems to be the only video of this song. It is from the Golden Heart tour, Mark’s first tour as a solo artist after the Dire Straits era. The song “about a long gone Irish girl” was played mainly on the Irish gigs of this tour and Mark was joined by some Irish folk musicians on stage.
From a guitar player’s point of view it is interesting to watch this video because I was never sure whether Mark played the song with his right hand in a fixed position (playing with thumb and two fingers and the right hand resting on the other two fingers) or with his hand swinging freely like he normally does when playing rhythm. Unfortunately the quality of the video is not too good but as it looks Mark used a mish-mash approach of the two styles, playing mainly with thumb and two fingers but moving the whole hand at least on the upbeat strokes.
It is also intersting that this song was played in different keys over the years. Originally in C major it was shifted to D on the On Location tour in 1980/1 (played on different guitars like on a Rickenbacker, see this blog post), then down to Bb on the Lover over Gold tour, and back to C on the On Every Street tour in 1991/2 (compare this video) or here in 1996."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop 🙂