Sting Symphonicities live, Hockey Park Moenchengladbach, June 22, 2011
''Every little note they played was magic''
The venue is filling up slowly, but that may well be caused by the fact there is only one main entrance to the hockey field, the place where tonight Mister Sting is going to perform many of his greatest hits and a few rather unknown gems of his musical portfolio. It has been raining for most of the day, but the audience members who enter the place are accompanied by the sun, fighting its way back through the clouds, on their mutual way into the Moenchengladbach Hockey Park.
Tonight, Sting will be joined by his regular band members, longtime right hand (and left hand) man Dominic Miller on guitar, singer Jo Lawry, bassist Ira Coleman and percussionist Rhani Krija. Also, the Bochum Symphonics are going to play a huge role in tonight’s sonic feast of ''classic meets pop''. New conductor to continue the work of Steven Mercurio is now Sarah Hicks, who is certainly not your average classical conductor, and yet does not bounce around quite as much as Mercurio used to do in his unique and funny way.
The setlist is slightly re-arranged, since the concert begins with ''Every little thing she does is magic'', continues with ''If I ever lose my faith'' and then ''Englishman in New York'' and ''Roxanne''. The choice of songs remains the same though, a well balanced line-up of former chart hits, some of which used to be particularly popular in Germany. The atmosphere is excellent: from the beginning of the first song, the entire crowd is standing up from their seats and even during the rather quiet ballads, hardly anyone decides to get back on their chairs. Sting does not chat a lot with the crowd, but the few announcements he makes, he delivers in German. During the entire night, his voice is strong, yet smooth, and sounds absolutely flawless. There is not a single note he would miss, and he reaches this achievement in a rather playful way; it doesn’t seem to take him any effort at all.
All of the orchestra members play extremely well and seriously make me wonder how many rehearsals they may have had the chance to do, to reach such a brilliant result. The soloist on first violin does a fantastic job on both beginning and ending of ''Whenever I say your name'', while the soloists on clarinet and trumpet during ''Englishman'', ''Mad about you'' and ''All would envy'' both give a slightly nervous impression with their rather basic kind of improvisation – who is to blame them on such a singular, thrilling occasion?
At least from my seat, the sound mixing seems perfect. Never before have I experienced a concert, let alone an outdoor one, where your ears can so easily recognize each of the many instruments on stage. This shall also be to great advantage for Miss Jo Lawry, whose voice shines not only while Sting gives her the honour to do the higher parts of the main melody in his songs (''When we dance'', ''This cowboy song'').
The show ends with just Sting on acoustic guitar and a good 8.000 voices strong chorus, who are all sending out their S.O.S. to the world. If there is anything to criticize about the entire evening, it may be the fact there were not more of these beautiful songs. In comparison to my earlier Symphonicities concert in Cologne in September 2010, a couple of songs (''Straight to my heart'', ''A thousand years'', ''Tomorrow we’ll see'', ''You will be my ain true love'') were missing, and I would have loved to hear ''I burn for you'' or ''The pirate’s bride'' from the studio CD. I guess that after a good two hours of awesome music, it would be naughty to keep asking for more though. The presence of many cameras and staff from local TV and radio station WDR set my hopes on getting some concert footage from this beautiful evening that made me leave the area a very happy and satisfied fan.
© Marc Pielsticker of Willich, Germany