Sting cracks Las Vegas!
Being too impatient to wait for the European dates I travelled to Las Vegas to see the three opening nights of Sting's Brand New Day Tour.
The motivation of starting in Vegas is still a question mark to me. For sure, The Joint was a very small and intimate venue, but it was a real horror to see that 95% of the audience stayed seated during the concert and beverages were served during the entire concert. A lot of people were busier with drinking, socialising or whatever than paying attention to the concert. A large part of the 1,400 people were probably tourists who happened to be in Vegas anyway and thought it would be nice to have a peak at a Sting concert for the first time in their life. Maybe Sting wants his set list to be really good and tight before he plays in front of the real fans and the Nevada desert was a good testing area?!
To be truthful, the first night had it's weak moments. So on the other two nights they changed the set list a little and added 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. It was a good move, because it was one of the songs that succeeded in getting the crowd onto their feet. He opened each show with 'A Thousand Years', which featured both him and Dominic playing guitar. The bass returned for 'If You Love Somebody'. 'After the Rain' already sounds excellent. The song goes very gently into 'We'll Be Together' which was played in a funky way.
On the night of 15th October, after the show, we had an earthquake in Las Vegas, which can be quite spooky for people who aren't accustomed to this kind of natural phenomenon. Sting told the audience the following night that he was asleep up on the 38th floor of his hotel when he was awakened by the shaking. He got out of bed to rescue himself... but then ''Couldn't decide what to wear, so stayed in bed''. Talk about vanity!
One of my favourite songs was added to the set after a nine year break - 'All This Time'. You never can play too many songs from 'The Soul Cages' era in my opinion. Sting's real nightmare on the second night was with 'Seven Days'. At the end of the 1st verse he forgot the lyrics completely. He confidently started all over again, hoping the words would come to his mind. To our amusement that didn't happen, so he skipped the song and promised to come back to it later. While he played 'Mad About You' Danny printed out the lyrics for him and after finishing 'Mad About You' he tried once again with 'Seven Days'. Despite having troubles reading the small font, he made it successfully through the first verse - for which he got a standing ovation - but still made several mistakes in the chorus and other verses, but he did it with a straight face and just murmured something.
'Fill Her Up' was next. Sting was told us that 90% of the criminals in the US who commit a crime directly go to Las Vegas. He wondered if we belonged to that category?! ''The song is about one of those criminals anyway,'' he said. 'Ghost Story' is one of the songs that sounds much better live than on the album. The acoustic guitar is replaced by an electric and Dominic's guitar playing gives the song a lot more power. Like ''All This Time'' before it, it was also great to hear 'Moon over Bourbon Street' again. Apart from the silly ''Louis Armstrong imitation'' at the beginning of the song, it's played in a loving new way. Regarding 'Brand New Day' and 'Tomorrow We'll See', Sting doesn't need to worry, because these songs already rocked like hell with a really nice jam in 'Tomorrow We'll See'.
On the last Las Vegas night Branford Marsalis surprised us all by suddenly walking on stage when the band started to play 'Englishman in New York'. I believe even Sting was surprised and Branford stayed on stage for a couple of songs. As soon as Bradford came on the hall was ablaze, which was a little sad for Chris Botti who was a little upstaged and placed in the background from then on. For the majority of the audience the concert really started with 'Roxanne'. From this song on it got everybody to his or her feet at last. With 'Desert Rose' they completed all the new material and it fitted well into all the hits they were now playing. 'Bring on the Night'/'When The World' always sounds like if they keep extending the song. It really sounded amazing and had brilliant solos by Jason Rebello and Dominic Miller. It proved that Jason is a worthy replacement for Kenny Kirkland although it appeared he did not always do what Sting expected from him, but I guess that's a matter of time.
Manu Katché sometimes does some amazing stuff on the drums, which suits the new songs well and keep everyone awake for sure. What I heard on these first three nights was amazing for the early stages of the tour. I'm really curious how some songs will evolve and develop. By the time the band reaches Europe I'm sure the little mistakes will be gone, some songs will be dropped and the songs will sound more smoother.
We can only hope the earth will be quaking in Europe next March as well.
(c) Luuk Schroijen for Sting.com