Nov
18
2011
(Crappy) Photo Friday: Sting Back to Bass Concert

Possibly the Longest Intro to a Concert Review Ever

Sting is my Yoko Ono. He broke up my favorite band of all time. Unlike Yoko, Sting was actually in the band he broke up so I liked him as much as I hated him. I followed Sting’s solo career hoping it would sound something like the Police. It didn’t.

But I enjoyed his first three solo albums and was mostly with him through the fourth.

In the 80s, I read a Sting quote basically saying he wanted to stop before getting old; something about prancing around on stage as 50-year old being undignified. I remember being panicked at the thought of no more Sting music. Then Mercury Falling came out and I wish 30-year old Sting had convinced 45-year old Sting to stop before pouring that noise poison into my defenseless ears. I didn’t like a single song on that album.  Verily, verily I cried unto Sting, “What did I do to deserve country music?”

The televised concerts I saw during the Brand New Day era were awful. He rearranged song after song to sound alike–S-L-O-W and stripped of all their energy. Sting is the artist and the music is his canvas and all that shit, so he can rearrange his own songs however he wants. But I am free to hate the crap out of it.

In his early solo phase, I called his penchant for rearranging “jazzification.” The jazzifying strained, but did not break, my patience.  After hearing the “All This Time” re-interpretation of songs, I changed the term to “Stingification.” Because there was no jazziness, no sign of life at all, in these arrangements. Stingification is a term I’m trying to get into more common use. It simply refers to someone pissing all over something you love because they can. This makes me so sad:

Back to Bass Tour – DAR Constitution Hall – November 10, 2011

Last week, I gambled and went to my first solo Sting show since 1991. The tour was meant to celebrate 25 years of Sting, which implied a focus on his best stuff. I purposely didn’t investigate the set list or the new “best of” CD, because I wanted to keep hope alive.

First things first, Sting is an amazing-looking 60-year old. I was a little taken aback when he came out almost as bald as a cue ball, given the contrast from his recent Grizzly Adams phase. Maybe he just seemed small from my vantage point, but something about his head and how wee he looked made him appear almost elfin.

I didn’t really have any complaints about the five-piece band, you know, other than their not being the Police. The song arrangements were pretty tight and not overly slow. Sting also seemed to be singing more normally than he did during the Police reunion, without any of the annoying mumbling and “scat” vocalizing I got chastised by Sting fans for complaining about on the Police fan club forum (one of my fellow complainers totally nailed it with this, “It’s like the words are running down his chin!”).

The show started out very energetic and promising. But even though everyone sounded great, the energy ground to a halt for me pretty quickly because of the set list. Sting and I simply disagree on what his best work is.

Highlights

The energetic opening of “All This Time, “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” “Seven Days,” and “Demolition Man.” “Seven Days” was probably my favorite performance of the night. It was my favorite song from Ten Summoners’ Tales and it sounded like it should sound, which is so unlike Sting it made me smile.

“Fortress Around Your Heart” This is one of the only solo Sting songs I ever thought sounded Police-like so I’ve always loved it. While they played it, I was transported to Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH where I saw Sting for the first time with my big brother when I was in seventh grade.

“Message in a Bottle” Sting came back out alone at the end and did it sort of Secret Policeman’s Other Ball style, which made me all warm and fuzzy inside remembering how much I loved Sting in my youth. Look at how lovable Sting was in 1981:

Disappointments

I couldn’t get over the song selection. If Sting’s written a country song he didn’t play, I’m not aware of it. About half the songs were from Mercury Falling onward. Sting talked more than I’m used to between songs, mostly about song writing and the stories behind his songs. I really enjoyed that, and found it necessary since he played five songs I didn’t even fucking know. Four were from Sacred Love, which I naively never imagined he’d dip into that much because it sucks (and now I’ve just increased my possible human alienation count by as many as a million or so more people, assuming the million or so people who bought this album think it doesn’t suck…sorry, write your own review).

Sting clumped these low energy songs together, sometimes three to five at a time, which didn’t allow the show to build or sustain any momentum. I got bored during those stretches and if it weren’t for the backing vocalist screeching like her pubes were being pulled out on “Hounds of Winter” and the electric violin solos on a couple of songs, I might have fallen asleep.

The backing vocalist was very talented, but her performance on some of the songs got a little too theatrical for my taste. Every line seemed to have deep meaning for her.

As a Police fan, I also have no particular need to hear Sting and his back-up band play a lot of Police songs. He played six and while most sounded OK, I missed Andy on “Driven to Tears.” More importantly, note to Sting: PLEASE. STOP. PLAYING. NEXT TO YOU. LIKE. THAT. Thank you.

Worst of all, Sting didn’t play a single song from my favorite album, Nothing Like the Sun. My two favorite solo songs are “The Lazarus Heart,” and “Be Still My Beating Heart,” and I realize “The Lazarus Heart” wasn’t a single, but “Be Still My Beating Heart” was a rather successful single. Why was it excluded from the show and the “best of” CD? It can’t be as petty as Andy having played on it, right?

Summary

If there’s one guy, just one guy
Who I’m not going to see live again, oh my…
It’s hard to say it
I hate to say it
But it’s probably Sting.

Crappy Photo

Because I still regret talking myself out of taking a camera when Dave and I had front row seats to see the Police in 2007, I now take a camera to every show even though concert pictures are always low-quality crap. Here is my obligatory, proving I was there, crappy picture of Sting and people’s heads. Elfin, no?

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19 Responses to “(Crappy) Photo Friday: Sting Back to Bass Concert”

  1. Rebecca Latson Photography
    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    I’m with you on this post, and I haven’t even gone to see a Sting concert. I had a huge crush on him way back when, and was more than a little disappointed about the Police breakup. My favorite album is the same as yours. And just crank up the ISO to something like 6400 and use a decent noise reduction plug-in (I wrote a post about that, btw) and your concert photos will be just fine.

    • logyexpress
      Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

      My love of the Police is one of the key memories of my youth. I’m basically saying how dare you change, Sting, which isn’t really fair, but I just don’t like his newer music.

      Thanks for the photography advice, I’ll definitely look up your post. I’m such a little rule follower, I’d never have the guts to try to bring my nice camera. I always bring the little digital camera I bought my husband 6 years ago (http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Powershot-SD550-Digital-Optical/dp/B000AYKUUQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321668161&sr=8-1). The ISO options on it run from 50-400. Yet I insist on taking pictures in arenas with it anyway. Goal for 2012: take a photography class. Tried to do that three times this year and was thwarted each time (wait listed once, cancelled twice).

  2. Tracy
    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    I wouldn’t have recognized him from the crappy concert picture. I’ll make sure to use “stingification” at least once today.

    • logyexpress
      Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

      Well, I hope no one pissed all over something you love, but if for some reason they did, I hope you called them on their Stingification.

      I had serious fudge stripe cookie cravings all night at that concert. Positively elf-like with that head.

  3. cinquecentoproject
    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I’m not as opinionated on the music, though I still like Sting & his solo work (to which I’ve been exposed – don’t own any). I can say that I enjoyed laughing my way through this post!

    • reagan
      Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

      I saw the concert last night. Loved it. I love Sting. He’s playing again in Houston tonight and I’d love to go again. Yes, the Sacred Love songs are daunting. Lyrics gone nutzo. I wanted to hear Whisper your name, Why should I cry for you, more ballads. I liked your comments because it’s fun to hear from another fan.

      • logyexpress
        Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

        Hi Reagan, thanks for the nice comment and for not throwing rotten tomatoes at me! There’s a thin line between love and hate and I adore Sting. But I was a Police fan first, which colors my opinions.

        I thought Sting and the band sounded great, I was pleasantly surprised by that aspect. It’s just hard not to be disappointed when you would’ve preferred almost half the setlist to be replaced! I wish Sting would change his setlists more, I’d actually go to another show if he did. But it’ll be the same group of songs the whole tour.

        How long have you been a fan? What’s your favorite Sting album? I love “Why Should I Cry for You” too.

        • reagan
          Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

          I just wrote you back.. I think I emailed 5 times :) Excited to meet another fan.. Album? I think I like Sacred Love because of Mary J Blige Whisper your name and Dead Man’s Rope. I also have worn out his Best of Yellow Cd almost twice now. I read his book too. Have you read his book? What was your favorite part? Mine? the shoe scene on the boat for sure.

          • logyexpress
            Friday, November 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

            My brother bought me Sting’s book for Christmas one year but I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read it yet. I have Andy’s book too but haven’t read that yet either. My job is almost 100% reading things, so I hardly ever read in my free time (I know that’s horrible!). I will be on the look-out for the shoe scene when I finally read the book! Thanks for the link to your blog, I enjoyed reading your post about the concert you attended!

    • logyexpress
      Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

      I bitch because I love! I adored Sting starting from the age of 9 or 10. So even though it’s ridiculous, him making music I can’t stand feels almost like a betrayal. And his dramatic changes just shine a brighter light on my own aging, which I can do without!

  4. Kelly Beeswax
    Monday, November 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Well, I’m headed to the concert here in Phoenix tomorrow night. I also love the Police and Sting’s early solo stuff. I had such an (unexpectedly) great time at Rod Stewart a few months back, I thought, let’s go see some more sexy old guys before they need walkers! Wish me luck :)

    • logyexpress
      Monday, November 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

      Good luck! It was a pretty good show, maybe a strategic bathroom/drink break would be helpful. I’ll be curious to see what you think after the show.

  5. Marq
    Friday, December 2, 2011 at 4:18 am #

    My sentiments EXACTLY. Wish I could have said it this way :-) even though I was introduced to Sting with the Blue Turtles album and then retroactively became a police nut, so for me the Jazzification phase was actually influential (I started following Branford Marsalis’ work and got into jazz heavily for quite a few years). I still think Bring On The Night stands out and for me was a very creative outlet for him. I agree with you though that having had such creative highs, seeing everything simmer down post-summoner’s tales ( I too had to quickly part with Sacred Love as if it were an infestation on my ears) just made me feel worried and sad. Perhaps the restless soul he once was had settled down so much it prevented the sparks of musical genius. I don’t know. but I think it’s safe to say he’s only resting on his past achievements, to varying degrees of success. How many Best Ofs can he release?

    Anyway, glad to see Fortress was a highlight, and perhaps just for that I might see the show in Paris this March. He may have even listened and changed the set list by then.

    • logyexpress
      Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 1:24 am #

      Thanks Marq, good to hear from someone else who feels my pain. The reviews of this tour in the States are very positive and the crowd the night I saw him seemed pretty into it. So I wouldn’t hold your breath on his changing the set list.

      I’m sort of sad too, because I think he is searching for that spark (can’t think of any other reason why he would get the Police back together) and not finding it. Alternatively, his tastes have just changed as he has aged. Which is totally understandable, but still sad for me.

      I just checked out your pictures of the Police reunion show in Paris and they are breathtaking. I would love to hear your thoughts (and see your photos!) if you see Sting in March.

  6. Dion Raath
    Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 4:05 am #

    Seeing Sting tonight. Not really a Sting fan but have been listening to the Songlist a couple of times so I know what to expect. Nothing really sticks out for me while listening but I’m sure its because I dont really follow Stings music. A client of mine invited us to go with them so we going tonight (South Africa, the Dome 24 March 2012) Quite nervous that its going to be a glum night after reading this review. Fortunetly I have got somewhat familiar with the songs so I am sure that will help :)

    • logyexpress
      Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      Hi Dion. I’d say maybe he’ll change his set list over time, but he never changes his set list within a tour. He and his band did sound great, I was just disappointed in his song selections–he has better songs than he played. I’m curious what you thought of the show.

      • Dion Raath
        Monday, March 26, 2012 at 3:19 am #

        WOW Tracy, It was AMAZING! He left out 8 of the Songs on the World Tour Songlist and added in many of his police hits from the 80’s So unexpected as I presumed he would keep the songs consistent to the shows in all the countries he was previously visiting on his World Tour.

        Below is what he sang in Johannesburg. (24 March 2012 Saturday – 2hrs:15 minutes show – Not in order)

        All this Time
        Demolition Man
        Seven Days
        I Hung my Head
        Fields of Gold
        Inside
        The Hounds of Winter
        Love is Stronger than Justice
        Driven to Tears
        End of the Game
        Never coming Home
        Every Breathe you Take
        Next to You
        Desert Rose
        Roxanne
        If I ever lose my faith in you
        Shape of my Heart
        Every little Thing she does is Magic
        (and 3 other police hits which I cant recall now)

        He kept coming back on stage after a long performance with 3 bows and then popping back on stage with his young talented team of musicians. We could all tell he didn’t want to say goodnight and was having so much fun with the 6000 at the show. He wasn’t boring as a few mention on the internet but had a strong stage presence with really funny stories to tell. He looks fantastic for 61. I must admit that am very impressed with Stings stage precense as he had us riveted for the entire show. To add to it all, he gave the two youngsters (violinist and drummer) a chance to shine with there talents on the show and they were INCREDIBLE. Jo was outstanding aswell. Sting is a remarkable talent, and a mans man with nothing to hide. What you see is what he truly is and every man can learn from him in many ways. I do admit we were spoilt because he made a point of surprising us with all his old hits :) We were fortunate to experience THE STING. What a privilege :)

        • Dion Raath
          Monday, March 26, 2012 at 3:39 am #

          Below is the Songlist I received on the internet for his Back to Bass World Tour. You can see how much different it is to what he sang on Saturday night at the Dome.

          All this Time
          Demolition Man
          Seven Days
          I’m so happy I cant stop crying
          I Hung my Head
          Stolen Car Take me dancing)
          Fortress Around my Heart
          Fields of Gold
          Ghost Story
          Heavy Cloud, No Rain
          Inside
          The Hounds of Winter
          Love is Stronger than Justice
          Driven to Tears
          End of the Game
          Never coming Home
          Lithium Sunset
          Every Breathe you Take
          Next to You
          Message in a Bottle

          (7-8 songs he left out of the show and replaced with the old hits)

        • logyexpress
          Monday, March 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

          Wow! He doesn’t usually mess around with his set list. Maybe he’s finally loosening up. I’m so glad you enjoyed the show! Thanks for following up.

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