Sting doesn't disappoint rain-soaked fans...
Despite cool winds and rainy weather, a sold out crowd stayed to watched Sting, with Annie Lennox as the opening act, perform at the UMB Bank Pavilion July 24. The concert started at 7:30 p.m. and did not end until 11:30pm. A conservative looking audience of all ages endured the rain to see two rock legends perform some of their most memorable hits on a high-tech visual stage.
Annie Lennox opened the concert with some of her most well-known hits as both an ex-Eurythmics and solo artist. She performed 'Here Comes the Rain Again', 'Walking on Broken Glass', 'Missionary Man', 'Sweet Dreams (Are made of This)', and 'Bare'.
On 'Here Comes the Rain Again', Lennox played a baby grand piano alone on stage. The experience of this moment was both intimate and mesmerizing for the audience, as if being the only one she was singing to. One of the lines in the song that she sang sums up the emotional experience when she caressed the piano keys and sang: ''So baby talk to me, like lovers do. Walk with me, like lovers do. Talk with me, like lovers do...''
The stage had synchronized lights that moved up and down, changing colors with the mood of the songs. The long curtain in the background reflected the color of these light changes in its appearance like that of a chameleon. These added effects gave a strong presence to Lennox's songs when she sang her soft melodic songs like 'Here Comes the Rain Again', to her high-octave rocking songs like 'Missionary Man'.
Lennox got the crowd energized with her encore song 'Missionary Man' when she belted out in a bluesy voice: ''Don't mess with a missionary man. Don't mess with a missionary man.'' This song got the crowd up out of their seats swinging and moving to Lennox voice which showed that she could sing with soul.
Overall, Lennox put on a strong opening show for Sting. She had strong stage presence as she commanded the stage singing and playing for an audience who were anxiously awaiting for the headliner of the show. Lennox's act finished when her and her five band members stood in a vertical line and gave a theatrical bow.
Several staff members quickly took to the stage and started disassembling the equipment. Audience members stretched their legs, got food and refreshments, and went to the restroom. Two long black curtains lowered in front of the stage. Roadies strummed on guitars and tapped on drums, testing the equipment. Meanwhile rain was still coming down yet no one was leaving. The lawn seats looked like a sea of people. There was not one empty space that revealed a patch of grass. After about a forty-five minute set change, the lights in the pavilion went dim, the curtains went up, and musicians began taking the stage.
Sting's band started playing the beat to 'A Thousand Years'. Sting finally entered the stage after this one-minute tease. He appeared on stage looking like a spiritual guru in a black outfit, not leather, with a white collar that was hidden under his black shirt. 'A Thousand Years', quickly turned into another one of Sting's songs when he took to the microphone and sang: 'Send Your love'. The crowd went crazy getting out of their seats cheering and moving to the fast-paced new-aged song in which he sang: ''Send your love into the future / Send your precious love into some distant time / And fix that wounded planet with the love of your healing / Send your love / Send you love.''
Stage gave the audience a 3-D visual effect that matched the power and energy of 'Send Your Love'. Three Huge digital screens that stood three feet apart were hung up against the curtain that cove red the back of the stage. In between the three huge digital screens were two smaller but still considerably big screens that moved up and down like two larger-than-life ''Pong'' balls. Lights, some fixed while others moved up and down and moved all around in different directions, made one feel like they were part of something bigger than life. And smoke would slowly, but almost unnoticeably, come out on the stage giving the concert a mystic feeling. Put all these visual elements together, synchronized with some fast-past new age music, and add one rock star/spiritual guru, and it is hard not to believe that this place is somewhere other than the ordinary world of work, bills, and deadlines.
A roadie comes out on the next song and brings Sting his bass. Sting asked, ''How's St. Louis doing,'' and then started playing his bass into the next song 'Synchronicity II'.
After a couple of songs Sting showed that he took notice of his fans and appreciated their attendance.
Sting said, ''How nice to be in St. Louis. I want to thank all the people in the lawn who are getting wet.''
Sting then went on to play other songs from his long career as an ex-member of The Police and as a solo artist. He played 'Seven Days', 'Fields of Gold', 'Englishman in New York', and '''Desert Rose'.
On 'Whenever I Say Your Name', Sting sang a duet with Joy Rose, one of his back-up singers, who replaces Mary J. Blige voice which can be heard on Sting's 'Sacred Love' CD. Joy Rose sang with such power and conviction that one could wonder why she did not sing on the album instead of Blige. She knocked the audience dead and got a standing ovation.
Sting sung another duet, this time with Annie Lennox who came out to sing with him 'We'll Be Together'. This was one of the highlights of the night, seeing the two superstars singing one of Sting's more popular songs.
Sting replaced his bass guitar for a six string guitar on 'Fragile'. He played the lead chords flawlessly even while he sang vocals. The huge digital screens were off for this song as well as some of the big lights. This was Sting's moment to get intimate with the audience like Lennox did with her 'Here Comes The Rain Again'.
The special effects went back up and had a strong message on 'This War'. The screen showed comic book like colors and characters. There was a montage of images that showed factories pumping smoke, planes dropping bombs, flags waving, soldier killing, and oil pumps pumping. At the end of the song, the words, ''Don't Do Nothing'' went across all the screens. Was this a message or just part of the show? No one in the audience seemed not to notice.
The huge screens played some other interesting images in the background that did get some attention. On 'Sacred Love' three different dancers on the screens did seductive dances while removing garments of clothing, doing a 'soft' striptease. The song was very sexy and there was not any nudity. But, on 'Whenever I Say Your Name', an angelic like woman covered in pixie make-up running through a forest is topless, and dances around in a circle holding a magical circle that looks like a hoola-hoop.
Towards the end of the show Sting performs the song that launched his career, 'Roxanne'. This song gets everyone out of their seats singing along. The song goes on for some 15 minutes and weaves lyrics into this song with another popular Police song 'King of Pain'. Sting has said in various interviews that he likes to watch his songs evolve and change over time so that they do not lose their excitement. 'Roxanne' had obviously evolved into a jam session when Sting and his world band played it fast and slow while Sting mutters, sometimes incoherently, versus' that keep the audiences excited with attention.
Sting and the band walk off stage, but eventually came back on for an encore performance. He played 'Every Breath You Take' and 'If I Ever Lose Myself'.
He finished the concert by picking up where his first song 'A Thousand Years' was cut off at the beginning of the show.
(c) University Wire by Gary Sohn
Sting rocks St. Louis...
I had been anticipating the July 24 St. Louis concert since early March when I purchased my tickets through the fan club pre-sale. It seemed I had purchased two tickets front row and centre, however I was sceptical based on previous concerts I had attended out east. What I had thought was a front row ticket in Washington D.C. had turned out to be sixth or seventh row behind pit seats not shown on the venue seating chart. So I tried not to get my hopes up too much for what appeared to be front row in St. Louis, all the while secretly wishing it to be true.
The weather turned out to be extremely extraordinary in St. Louis on concert day. It was unseasonably cool at 74 degrees with light rain falling on and off throughout the afternoon and evening. I had arranged to meet with several other Sting fan club members before the concert, and we had decided on Krieger's Pub located extremely close to the UMB Bank Pavilion. At 4:30 I met with Margaret (mehoff8) and her husband Carl, Gerard (trinitodebone), Stephanie (Writer) and her friend Rachel, and Lisa (lwcass) and her husband Tim. It is always such a pleasure for me to meet other Sting fans. We had a lovely time talking about our mutual fondness for Sting's music, taking photos and making plans for the concert. I showed off to everyone my newly designed Stingfield.com t-shirt, which had just been finished the day before the concert. I had actually made two identical t-shirts, one to wear and one to give to Sting at the concert if possible. At 6:30 pm we all headed over to the venue, and unfortunately, due to an unbelievably slow shuttle from Krieger's to the venue, ended up walking for 15 minutes in light rain to get to the concert.
I practically ran to get in the venue and find our seats, and was thrilled to be escorted to the front row, just four seats right of centre stage. I was downright cold at this point due to the rain and a breeze blowing through the outdoor venue, even though our seats were completely covered by the venue roof. Dominic came out right on time and played a short but sweet set, including 'Shape Of My Heart' accompanied by Sting. Shortly thereafter Sting came out and introduced Annie Lennox, and her performance was outstanding. She was very dramatic and very much got into her singing. I headed out before Annie's two-song encore to get in line to meet Dominic.
The line was already long when I got there, but moved quickly once Dominic came out, immediately after Annie's set was over. I got to talk to him briefly and took a couple photos with him. I also gave him some fan club members mail to deliver to Sting, and he told me that he would do so. At the get together earlier I had promised to get two fan club members' letters to Sting if it was possibly for me from the front row. But after asking and being told by security not to set or throw anything onstage, I thought that giving them to Dominic was a better idea. I also asked Dominic to give Sting the newspaper clipping with the photo of me holding the two cardboard cut-outs of Sting. I can only hope that all these things made it into Sting's hands from Dominic.
Not long after that Sting came on stage, and I completely mesmerized by his performance and how close I was to him. I could see the glitter in his pant stripes I was so close. I will not attempt to give a review of the concert, because I was completely hypnotized from start to finish in the front row and am certain my opinion is completely biased for that reason. I will never have a more wonderful Sting concert experience however, and want to thank Sting.com and the Sting Fan Club for making these front row seats available to me. I thought Sting was in fine form vocally, and he seemed to be in a very good mood. He reacted with the audience much more than usual, and I think he also smiled a lot more. (Or once again, maybe it was because I was in the front row to see this!) He did mention that the weather reminded him of England, and maybe the cool night made him happier than usual. He also talked a lot with a guy in the front row who blurted out it was his birthday and that he had seen Sting on the 'Synchronicity' Tour. Sting joked that he must in fact be very old then, and wished him a happy birthday, and then went on to ask what his sign was, to which the guy responded Leo.
I had planned a little surprise with the fan club people prior to the concert. I had thought it would be fun to release red balloons into the crowd during 'Roxanne', and had written Send Your Love, www.stingfield.com'' on 24 red balloons and distributed them to all the people at the pre-concert get together to help get them up in the air at the same time. Everyone was instructed to blow their balloons up the moment 'Roxanne' started, then wait until they saw mine go up in the front row and then release theirs. When Sting hit the ''put on the red light, put on the red light'' part of 'Roxanne' for the first time, I popped my two balloons up in the air, then turned around and saw some of the others go up too. People started hitting them around in the crowd, but unfortunately it didn't last long because the wind was fairly strong and blew them away. Two balloons did actually blow up on stage. I thought it was kind of cute, but the weather didn't help to make it more fun for the crowd. I also had the chance to sing right along with Sting for the first two lines of 'Desert Rose', when he looked me right in the eyes while starting this song! That was pretty darn cool... I dream of rain... I dream of gardens in the desert sand...
Soon Sting was out for his first encore, and after it ended I tried to hand him the t-shirt I had made for him with no luck. He came out for the final song, and I knew it was my last chance. This time luck was with me however, because he walked straight up to the front of the stage where I was standing after the band all took a bow. I held up the t-shirt and asked him to take it. He did just that and then shook my hand while I told him thank you, shook a few other hands quickly, and then was gone. Needless to say, I was thrilled!
All in all it was the most amazing Sting concert I've ever attended, I had the best time.
(c) ChattyKathy for Sting.com
Sting, Annie Lennox warm a chilly night for grown-up pop fans...
Uncharacteristically cool weather and on-and-off rain may have kept some fans away from the Sting/Annie Lennox concert that drew an estimated crowd of over 11,000 to UMB Bank Pavilion Saturday night, but didn't take the heat off of one of the season's most anticipated shows.
Lennox, who hasn't played these parts nearly often enough, was the deserved highlight of an evening full of pop music for grownups (no slight to Sting, but Lennox has been grabbing a nice share show-stealing reviews).
Lennox proved to be a formidable support act during her hour-long set that focused on both her acclaimed solo career and her time well spent with the synth-pop duo the Eurythmics. Lennox is never thought of as a soul singer, but experiencing her intensity live leaves no doubt. She delivers the goods straight from her inner being.
While her onstage chatter was a little questionable (''Which city are we in? I like to know where I am... Do you know who I am, because sometimes I forget''), there was no denying her often haunting vocals, highly watchable stage presence, and the way she gets caught up in her material. Songs from her solo CDs such as 'Cold' from 1992's 'Diva' and 'Pavement Cracks' from last year's 'Bare' got the crowd primed for Eurythmics hits 'Here Comes the Rain Again' and 'Missionary Man'.
'Here Comes the Rain Again', which basked in all its electronic glory in its original version, got sliced back to a piano ballad, with Lennox caressing the ivories. 'Missionary Man' reminded us just how capably she can rock, as did 'I Need a Man' and 'Walking on Broken Glass'. 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)' and 'Why' were commanding set closers.
Sting was by no means a slouch during his near two-hour show that noticeable lacked in some songs not performed ('Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', 'Shape of My Heart', 'Spirits in the Material World', and 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', for starters).
But why quibble over the omissions when given all Sting had to offer? Backed by his worldly band and a trio of video screens boasting impressively three dimensional-like images, Sting opened with the rush of energy that was the techno-influenced dance groove 'Send Your Love', a single from his latest CD 'Sacred Love'.
A mixture of solo and the Police material filled out the set, with the former relying on songs such as 'Seven Days', 'Fragile', 'Desert Rose', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', 'Englishman in New York', and 'Fields of Gold' (with some strong work from guitarist Dominic Miller). Clearly, it's his solo material that's Sting's priority, as it should be.
Still, again, it's hard to not crave some of that classic Police material like 'Synchronicity II', the first Police song performed Saturday night. There was also a loose 'Roxanne' that was questionably all over the place, from its homage to 'King of Pain' to Sting's scat-like singing to the stretching of the song lengthwise and sideways. As unfastened as 'Roxanne' was, 'Every Breath You Take' was the polar opposite, uptight and by the book.
Sting's distinctive voice remains intact, though he may not necessarily put as much behind it as he did in the past. That became obvious with the night's two guest vocal spots.
Lennox joined Sting for 'We'll Be Together', a creaky song to start with. But Lennox, who looked to be enjoying the song more than Sting, brought it all together. Backing singer Joy Rose took over for Mary J. Blige on the 'Sacred Love' song 'Whenever I Say Your Name', and showed Blige, and perhaps even Sting, how it's done. His performance here couldn't match hers. Rose wailed as if every fibre of her future depended on it.
Sting can afford to coast a little these days if he likes. Still, Sting in coast-mode is inherently more interesting than some of those other elder statesman of rock such as Rod Stewart, Elton John, and Phil Collins.
Guitarist Dominic Miller, a member of Sting's band for 15 years, opened the concert with music from his solo CD 'Shapes'.
(c) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Kevin C. Johnson