Apr
01
2005

San Jose, CA, US (Event Center (State University))

  (0) Comments
With Phantom Planet

SHOW REVIEW

Sting goes back to his roots with Police for excellent concert at San Jose State - Sting delivers musical lesson in San Jose...

Sting parked the Jaguar, left his ''Important Artist'' hat at home and came out rocking at the San Jose State University Events Center.

What a relief.

Friday's show was exactly the type of straightforward, no-frills evening of music that many longtime fans have longed for during the past decade.

The concert was a vast improvement over the show at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland in early 2004. Those February shows were bloated affairs that featured an unnecessarily large band, iffy set lists and too many stylistic left turns.

On the opening night of the 'Broken Music Tour', Sting managed to fix every aspect of his ailing live show. The former chief of Police turned back the clock, punched up the hits and delivered his most powerful Bay Area concert in years.

''I'm glad to be at the university of San Jose,'' Sting said to the crowd after opening with a solid version of the Police's 'Message in a Bottle'. ''I haven't played a college or university in 25 years.''

Given the glorious results, perhaps the former teacher should think about only playing before student bodies. The setting definitely helped strengthen the old-school vibe. The bare-bones Event Center, which doesn't serve sushi, mojitos or other such luxuries found at modern amphitheaters or arenas, somewhat resembles a miniature Cow Palace. It's a place nearly devoid of distractions, which means it's easy for fans to focus on the performer.

Sting was full of personality and good humor, introducing the raucous 'Spirits in the Material World' as a song ''that was ripped off by Madonna,'' but mainly he let the music do the talking.

Sting is known to shake up his hits and deliver them in completely new stylistic settings. At last year's Paramount shows in Oakland, he was guilty of that to a fault. The finger-snapping-cool jazzy makeover of 'Walking on the Moon', which featured Sting on upright bass, worked well. But the watered-down takes on 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take' in Oakland fell far short of their original greatness.

In contrast, Sting played by the books in San Jose and delivered very faithful renditions of such old favorites as 'Synchronicity II' and 'Roxanne'. The few makeovers that the 53-year-old vocalist-bassist did attempt were hardly extreme. The one exception was the haunting, spacey version of 'Invisible Sun', which came across as a Police track as played by Pink Floyd.

Although the set was built around fan favorites, the show wasn't just a greatest-hits collection.

''Tonight, we are doing a lot of songs we haven't played in many, many years,'' Sting said.

The artist definitely unearthed some true gems, including 'The End of the Game', which was never officially released on CD in the United States, and 'I Hung My Head', a track Johnny Cash recorded on 'American IV: The Man Comes Around'.

Sting was backed by a superb band that features longtime guitarist Dominic Miller, rhythm-guitar-ace Shane Fontayne and drummer Josh Freese from A Perfect Circle. Freese, in particular, helped rock the boat with a style that closely resembles the Police's hard-hitting Stewart Copeland.

The band would prove its strength to the capacity crowd of 4,500 during the cover of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'. Not many acts can get away with playing this complex song live - it's just the type of zigzagging number that helped persuade the Fab Four to quit touring. Phish used to do a great job with it, and Sting's band was nearly as good.

As the concert drew to a close, the musical intensity grew greater. It's been a long time since Sting has sounded as urgent as he did on this evening's versions of 'Next to You' and 'Every Breath You Take'.

The one knock on the concert was its length. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, the show was too short. However, to be fair, Sting sounded so good in San Jose that he could have played all night and it still wouldn't have been enough.

(c) The Daily Review by Jim Harrington




A familiar Sting at S.J. State, but not familar enough...

Sting got some of his sting back Friday night as he launched a national tour from San Jose State University's Event Center.

He left the smooth jazz band behind and brought out a harder-rocking quartet, and he used it to play a lot of Police songs that have sat on the shelf for decades.

The 20-song, 90-minute show wasn't nearly as arresting as it should have been, despite the drumming of Josh Freese, from the metal band A Perfect Circle, and the fine guitar work of longtime Sting-mate Dominic Miller and Shayne Fontayne, who has played with Bruce Springsteen.

It's time the former Gordon Sumner took the advice of the band he called his favorite ever, Friday: ''Get back to where you once belonged,'' even if there is no love lost between you.

The enmity may have been one of the things that made the Police a phenomenal live band. The competitive maelstrom of a trio of equals, each pulling a song in his own direction, helped this 53-year-old create his best work.

Although this band was competent, they were Sting employees doing the master's work. And the master never broke a sweat, even on the punkish rarity 'Next to You', the kaleidoscopic 'When the World is Running Down' or the chilling Beatles cover, 'A Day in the Life'.

With the Police he would have been drenched.

Also, this show broke the 0 T-shirt barrier, with long-sleeve polos going for that much. That's the concert equivalent of -a-gallon gas.

Even that might seem like a bargain, if the songs were done by the Police.

(c) The San Jose Mercury News by Brad Kava




Sting delivers musical lesson in San Jose...

Sting parked the Jaguar, left his ''Important Artist'' hat at home and came out rocking at the San Jose State University Events Center.

What a relief.

Friday's show was exactly the type of straightforward, no-frills evening of music that many longtime fans have longed for during the past decade.

The concert was a vast improvement over the show at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland in early 2004. Those February shows were bloated affairs that featured an unnecessarily large band, iffy set lists and too many stylistic left turns.

On the opening night of the Broken Music Tour, Sting managed to fix every aspect of his ailing live show. The former chief of Police turned back the clock, punched up the hits and delivered his most powerful Bay Area concert in years.

''I'm glad to be at the university of San Jose,'' Sting said to the crowd after opening with a solid version of the Police's 'Message in a Bottle'. ''I haven't played a college or university in 25 years.''

Given the glorious results, perhaps the former teacher should think about only playing before student bodies. The setting definitely helped strengthen the old-school vibe. The bare-bones Event Center, which doesn't serve sushi, mojitos or other such luxuries found at modern amphitheaters or arenas, somewhat resembles a miniature Cow Palace. It's a place nearly devoid of distractions, which means it's easy for fans to focus on the performer.

Sting was full of personality and good humor, introducing the raucous 'Spirits in the Material World' as a song ''that was ripped off by Madonna,'' but mainly he let the music do the talking.

Sting is known to shake up his hits and deliver them in completely new stylistic settings. At last year's Paramount shows in Oakland, he was guilty of that to a fault. The finger-snapping-cool jazzy makeover of 'Walking on the Moon', which featured Sting on upright bass, worked well. But the watered-down takes on 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take' in Oakland fell far short of their original greatness.

In contrast, Sting played by the books in San Jose and delivered very faithful renditions of such old favorites as 'Synchronicity II' and 'Roxanne'. The few makeovers that the 53-year-old vocalist-bassist did attempt were hardly extreme. The one exception was the haunting, spacey version of 'Invisible Sun', which came across as a Police track as played by Pink Floyd.

Although the set was built around fan favorites, the show wasn't just a greatest-hits collection.

''Tonight, we are doing a lot of songs we haven't played in many, many years,'' Sting said.

The artist definitely unearthed some true gems, including 'The End of the Game', which was never officially released on CD in the United States, and 'I Hung My Head', a track Johnny Cash recorded on 'American IV: The Man Comes Around'.

Sting was backed by a superb band that features long-time guitarist Dominic Miller, rhythm-guitar-ace Shane Fontayne and drummer Josh Freese from A Perfect Circle. Freese, in particular, helped rock the boat with a style that closely resembles the Police's hard-hitting Stewart Copeland.

The band would prove its strength to the capacity crowd of 4,500 during the cover of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'. Not many acts can get away with playing this complex song live - it's just the type of zigzagging number that helped persuade the Fab Four to quit touring. Phish used to do a great job with it, and Sting's band was nearly as good.

As the concert drew to a close, the musical intensity grew greater. It's been a long time since Sting has sounded as urgent as he did on this evening's versions of 'Next to You' and 'Every Breath You Take'.

The one knock on the concert was its length. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, the show was too short. However, to be fair, Sting sounded so good in San Jose that he could have played all night and it still wouldn't have been enough.

(c) insidebayarea.com by Jim Harrington




With simple band, Sting jams just like the good ol' days of the Police...

After more than 20 years of avoiding anything that so much as smacked of the Police, Sting couldn't have embraced the stripped down, high-performance drive of the band that launched his career any more than he did Friday at the Event Center at San Jose State.

Appearing on a giant, uncluttered stage in the small basketball arena, accompanied solely by three other musicians, the blond-haired rock star dove straight into hyperdrive with an old Police number, 'Message in a Bottle', played so hard, it practically threatened to detonate right on the spot.

Lean, mean, lithe and light on its feet, Sting's 'Broken Music' show came as a considerable contrast to the bloated, leaden shows he has presented on recent outings, such as the 2004 'Sacred Love' tour, where he sank beneath a clumsy melange of world music and jazzy MOR pop. The new tour also comes as a break from his typical commercial routine. There is no new album to promote, no summer tour at larger venues he is previewing at the smaller hall, no new television commercial featuring his music.

''I haven't played a college campus in 25 years,'' he said. In fact, his first Bay Area performance with the Police took place at Zellerbach Auditorium at UC Berkeley 26 years ago.

At San Jose State, he appeared refreshed and invigorated, looking slender and elegant in a too-well-tailored suit. He slammed out 80 minutes of powerful music, ranging all over his songbook, happily mixing old Police tunes with pieces from his solo recordings, all fitted to the new, no-frills band, and raced around the track at full speed. An album of new songs by this razor-sharp band could be a revelation from an artist who long ago stopped coming up with surprises.

Guitarist Dominic Miller, a 15-year veteran of Sting bands, joined Shane Fontayne, the Lone Justice guitarist who played with Bruce Springsteen on the 'Tunnel of Love' tour, and the freight train of a drummer, Josh Freese, who also currently belongs to A Perfect Circle and Devo. Sting returned to his original instrument: Fender electric bass.

The brilliant sound production featured Sting's vocals, and the harmony blends well above the band's charging drive, with the bass pushed to the fore of the mix like a reggae band and the orchestrations left to drummer Freese, who supplied an entire orchestra's worth of dynamics by himself.

The month-old band, in fact, flexed its considerable skills with a perfectly realized rendition of that most orchestrated of all classic rock songs, 'Day in the Life', bringing the piece to a close with a scaled down but perfect replica of the symphonic crescendo from the Beatles original.

He blasted his way into the show with 'Message in a Bottle', 'Spirits in the Material World' (''this is a song I wrote and Madonna ripped off,'' he noted) and 'Demolition Man'. Police songs all fared splendidly in the new band's hands; his solo material worked less certainly. 'Heavy Cloud, No Rain' thundered, but 'I Hung My Head' stumbled. The high-powered band didn't handle slow pieces all that well, although 'Fields of Gold', an obvious crowd favorite, came off without a hitch.

The program, however, largely stayed with material from his days with the Police, 1984's most popular rock band, a lot of which he has been deliberately and conspicuously ignoring all the years since. He brought the concert to a close with the band's first runaway hit, 'Roxanne', and returned for an encore with 'Next to You', the opening track from the trio's 1979 debut, and 'Every Breath You Take', the massive hit off the band's benedictory 'Synchronicity'.

He planted himself behind a peculiar knee-high tea table at the bottom of his microphone, where he kept drinks, and toed the front edge of the large stage while mobile lighting rigs shifted configurations behind him, raising and lowering, blinking on and off. The lighting, in fact, was one of the evening's few false steps. A band playing music this honest and unvarnished needed no extra production touches. A few judicious white lights would have done the trick.

Of course, Sting has never been known for subtlety. But to see him this focused, this on target, this free from mumbo-jumbo jive and high-handed self-importance, was astonishing enough by itself.

(c) The San Francisco Chronicle by Joel Selvin

SET LIST

(0) Reviews and Comments