10.12.11 Inside Sting's Birthday Blowout - Rocker turns 60 with help from Bruce, Gaga, Billy Joel and others...

Inside Sting's Birthday Blowout - Rocker turns 60 with help from Bruce, Gaga, Billy Joel and others...

"Sixty feels comfortable," Sting told the sold-out crowd at New York's Beacon Theatre on October 1st. "I've always felt sort of old." But celebrating the milestone birthday onstage, Sting was positively boyish, ecstatically jamming with a stacked all-star roster of friends and fans including Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Lady Gaga.

He has a lot to celebrate this fall: Sting just released 25 Years, a box set focusing on his quarter-century as a solo artist, and this month he kicks off the 32-date Back to Bass tour, playing in theaters with a stripped-down band. "I thought it was a good time to reflect," says Sting. "For me, getting older enriches life. You realize there are a limited number of summers left - or tours, songs, relationships - so you really have to value them."

The birthday blowout, which raised $3.7 million for the Robin Hood Foundation to fight poverty, had so many big names it took a year to wrangle them all. "Sting and [wife] Trudie [Styler] presented it as a big, open lovefest," says Rufus Wainwright, whose voice soared on the Police's 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'. Backstage, Springsteen, Joel and Herbie Hancock caught up near an elevator, Gaga hung out with Wonder, and Mary J. Blige snapped a fan photo with Joel. "It was electric," says Blige. Early in the night, Will.i.am sang 'Walking On The Moon' - working in lines from 'I Gotta Feeling' - and Hancock tore into a wickedly funky 'Sister Moon'. "Sting has the soul of a jazzman," says Hancock. "He pushes the envelope with the kinds of melodies he writes."

Joel beamed during faithful takes on 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Don’t Stand So Close To Me'. Gaga, meanwhile, completely reimagined 'King Of Pain', stripping it almost entirely of the original melody. "It was like 'Bad Romance' meets the blues," says Rob Mathes, the show's musical director. "She was so committed. Sting loved it."

After Wonder delivered a mournful 'Fragile', the night hit its peak when Springsteen took the stage. He nailed Sting's 'I Hung My Head', a haunting ballad about a man sentenced to death after an accidental shooting, busting out an awesomely unhinged guitar solo. He then strapped on a 12-string acoustic for a stark 'Fields Of Gold', the house dead silent as he sang a verse in gravelly a cappella. "It sounded like he wrote it," says Wainwright.

But Springsteen wasn't completely somber. "I've known Sting for about 25 years," he said. "I've read, 'Sting can make love for 29 hours.' I wonder why he never mentioned that to me. After four hours now, you're supposed to seek medical attention… Anyway, stay hard, brother, stay hard."

The box set, which includes crystalline new mixes (particularly of tracks from his 1985 debut, 'The Dream Of The Blue Turtles'), was a revelation even to Sting. "It's a bit like archaeology - we found little things that got buried in the mix," he says. And he's written almost 30 songs for The Last Ship, a musical he's developing about the decline of the shipbuilding industry in his hometown of Newcastle, England. "I'm not sure what I'll do after this next tour," he says. "I'm just full of wonder and a sense of joy and the same childlike love of music I've always had. There's so much to learn and so little time."

(c) Rolling Stone by Patrick Doyle
(1) Reviews and Comments
- 10.24.11
Happy Be day, Live day, Dream day
Happy belated birthday ! Haha, Love Bruce's comments -Sacre bleu ! :-)
When The Police agreed to split at the end of their 1984 American tour, all three band members began to create things to fill the space the absence of an enormously successful rock band would leave in their lives. Stewart Copeland began working on a film and solo album called 'The Rhythmatist'. Andy Summers took to writing a long-since-lost screenplay. Sting, being the sort of chap Gordon Sumner was even then, assembled a whole new band made up of exemplary musicians who had played with, among a million others, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Weather Report. They decamped to Barbados and made 'Dream Of The Blue Turtles', an almost-jazz record where Sting laid out a template delineated by tasteful instrumentation, musicianly chops and lyrical smartness. This was neither rock nor pop; this music had nothing to do with Elvis, or punk or The Beatles or, indeed, The Police; its eyes were set on the far horizon of a land no one had yet visited, modern adult popular music...

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Sometimes being the leader of the biggest band on the planet isn't enough, and the artists formerly known as Gordon Sumner has previously spoken about how he was frustrated by the musical limitations of The Police. Indeed, since embarking on a solo career a quarter of a century ago, Sting has avidly pursued a resless, occasionally schizophrenic path, as this bos set testifies. The easy shorthand suggests Sting had designs on becoming a jazz artist, and that's borne out by his earlier albums on tracks such as 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' or 'We'll Be Together' (not to mention his live re-workings of his old band's 'Bring On The Night' and 'Driven To Tears'). But listen more carefully to the elaborate musical tapestry of 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' or 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' - probably two of the most complex songs to scale the singles chart...
A thought-provoking new stop smoking campaign is today unveiled by Fresh with support from the British Lung Foundation to highlight a cruel, lingering disease that destroys the lungs. ‘Every breath’ aims to highlight the long-term effects of smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the umbrella term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis, in a bid to encourage more people to quit smoking. ‘Every breath’ also has the backing of musician Sting, who is originally from the North East. Sting said: “Many people across the UK are affected by lung damage and other smoking related illnesses, particularly in the North East where I grew up. I'm pleased to support a programme which works towards giving people the motivation and support they need to quit..."

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There's a moment just a few songs into Sting's live concert video, Rough, Raw & Unreleased: Live At Irving Plaza, that recalls the effortless power and grace of The Police in their prime. The song is “Synchronicity II,” and the legendary bassist and frontman is leading his solo-career touring band through that song's tricky high/low, loud/soft textures. Sting's voice - still strong and supple - glides above the swirl of Dominic Miller and Shane Fontayne's guitars. Meanwhile, drummer Josh Freese rides the high hat diligently, replicating Stewart Copeland's impossibly tight fills on the snare. It's the concert film's musical highlight, and if it's not the real thing without the original Police men, well - it's delightfully close...

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Two concerts in New York City have just been added to Sting's Back to Bass tour at the Roseland Ballroom on November 8 and 9. With the announcement of these two performances, the itinerary for Sting's Back to Bass tour 2011 is now complete. The fan club presale will begin at 10AM (local time) tomorrow, Friday, October 7. Legacy Fan Club members will be given a one hour advance window at the start of the presale, after which the pre-sale will open up to all members beginning at 11AM (local time). We have reserved a number of tickets exclusively for Sting.com members located within all sections of the Roseland Ballroom, including the Side Floor area. Each member may purchase up to two tickets to each performance. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Friday, October 14 at 10AM (local time). Please note, all tickets are General Admission...

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