'Roxanne' in the Arena – Sting visiting Leipzig with his 'Symphonicity'-tour
Leipzig. Some painters, like the recently deceased Bernhard Heisig, consider their paintings never complete; secretly, they keep on working on them even in the museum. Sting is of the same kind, but with the difference that his musical overpaintings and revisions are openly celebrated. His overloading videos and compilations oeuvre tells of this: About a year ago, he released 'Symphonicities', an album recorded with the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The album's concept was now transferred to more than 20 songs from both, the rawer Police - and the softer solo-years.
The 59-year-old is a way to good arranger to let it come out as a simple pop-meets-classic production. Besides, he is already a classic himself. He enters the stage looking wirily-fit, in a black jacket, with a rose in the buttonhole, later casually leans against the microphone stand, and hits a tambourine, which was probably placed right next to him because he does not know where else to put his energy.
The courage to perform wholly without well-known musicians, like long-time guitarist Dominic Miller, and to really re-invent his songs is missing. It is only at times that the forty six-piece Bochum Symphoniker dictate the rhythm of this concert. Still, it is fun right from the start. The 1981 Police hit 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' is the first highlight. 'Magic, Magic, Magic', he is chanting, the same thing must be said about the rhythm the strings are creating in this. Delightful.
Shortly after, Sting takes his 'Englishman In New York' for a walk. There are dozens of cover versions of this song, e.g. from Japan, Turkey and Nigeria. However, no-one covers Sting as well as Sting does, even if his version in the Arena sounds very similar to the smooth-jazzy original. Perhaps, because there is nothing to be overpainted, really. The crowd is clapping, the master sending them air kisses. Before, during 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', he has already played the harmonica. ''I am well aware that I'm here in the city of Johann Sebastian Bach'', he drops in. The man knows what he is doing, and where, but the easy, laid-back attitude is not entirely convincing on this evening. Gordon Matthew Sumner from Newcastle playing Sting, the world brand for cross-over.
'Roxanne', the Police's metallic-hard love declaration to a prostitute, is added a shimmer of operetta. Careful that André Rieu does not copy that… The total opposite is 'Next To You' from the same album, which dynamically transfers the aggressiveness of the original. The strings are racing, chasing the song. Oh yes, that's rock! Even if Sting does not want to hear this: In 1983 he told the 'Stern' magazine: ''I'm completely bored with rock music between 1940 and 1980.''And he would rather listen to hogs screwing.
Full of contradictions - that is Sting as well. The declared socialist and rainforest-activist owns a country estate near London, an apartment at New York's Madison Square Garden, and keeps himself busy with organic farming on his grounds in Tuscany. His holiday domicile in Malibu, California resembles a high-security wing. The master is not to be disturbed at yoga, macrobiotic dieting and fitness. This world that he wants to improve has to stay out.
But not tonight. Whatever may fall apart in the world outside, becomes whole inside here, when he is relying on the orchestra, when the drums are quiet and a single trumpet is ending 'Russians', the violins shimmering and the curtain falling 'rrrumms'. Or when, after a 20-minute-break, Sting is telling the 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' story in a trench coat and with the orchestra leaving everybody in a dramatic, insane dizziness.
The fans, mainly between 30 and 50 years old, some of them wearing ''tramp stamps'' or cowboy boots, others dressed in existentialist's black, are celebrating their master either way. By 'Every Breath You Take' this is not a seated crowd anymore. The masses are heading towards the stage and there are several encores: Penultimate song is the admonishing 'Fragile', last an acoustic, guitar-only 'Message In A Bottle'.
© Leipziger Volkszeitung by Jürgen Kleindienst (very kindly translated by Petra)