Oct
01
2011

New York City, NY, US (Beacon Theatre)

  (4) Comments

SHOW REVIEW

Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga and More Celebrate Sting's 60th Birthday Bash in NYC features all-star covers of the legend's hits...

Toward the end of Sting's 60th birthday bash at New York's Beacon Theater last night, Bruce Springsteen took a moment from his set to joke about his friend. "I've known Sting for about 25 years," Springsteen said. "But our friendship is a little unusual, because every time I read about Sting in a magazine, I don't recognize him. 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."

Sting's 60th was full of surprises. The charity event (all proceeds went to the Robin Hood Foundation to fight poverty) featured a stacked lineup including Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Rufus Wainwright, Mary J. Blige and will.i.am – all covering Sting's songs joined by the man himself. "Sixty feels comfortable – I've always felt sort of old," he said early in the night. But most of the time, he looked boyishly ecstatic, whether grooving next to a moon-walking will.i.am. or sitting down on a riser to watch Herbie Hancock play a piano solo on "Sister Moon."

The setup was massive, with at least 20 musicians onstage including a string section and backup singers. Sting appropriately kicked off with "Englishman in New York," followed by "All This Time" "Seven Days" and the funky, slinky groove of "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free." He introduced will.i.am., fresh off headlining Central Park with the Black Eyed Peas over the weekend. Will.i.am reinvented "Walking on the Moon," freestyling and  working in some lines from "I Gotta Feelin'" "Tonight's gonna be as a good night/ tonight's gonna be a special night.'" Afterward, he recalled being a kid in the projects, borrowing a friend's Police CD. "Now I'm onstage, singing with him on his birthday," he said triumphantly. Other duet highlights included Rufus Wainwright delivering a stellar "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and Sting's with his son Joe Sumner on an emotional "Why Should I Cry For You?" about Sting's tough relationship with his father.

Billy Joel hasn't played a proper concert in two years, and he was last onstage when he played with Paul McCartney at Yankee Stadium in July, so it was good to see him back. He sounded great, taking a seat at the grand piano and nailing the high notes in "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me." After his set, though, he confusingly put his hands around his neck, mock-choking himself with his tongue out. He could've been implying he wasn't pleased with his performance, though everyone else was.

Next was Lady Gaga, who sat at the piano in sunglasses and a sparkly dress with extra-broad shoulders, rocking back and forth while howling a powerful take on the Police's "King of Pain." Giving the same kind of vocal passion she gives on songs like "You and I," she made it truly sound like a Gaga song. Next, Stevie Wonder walked center stage to sing a soulful "Fragile" with Sting (surprisingly, Wonder didn't play piano the entire night) "How do you follow that?" Sting asked the crowd. " But you can…"

Echoes of "Bruuuuce" rang through the Beacon. Sting left the stage and Springsteen emerged with his Fender. Like Joel, he also hasn't been on the road in a while, but looked ready for action, beginning with a haunting cover of Sting's "I Hung my Head." A ballad about a man sentenced to death after accidentally shooting someone, it was quiet until Springsteen ripped into a blistering solo that became the night's peak. Next was a stirring, emotional "Fields of Gold," which he called one of his favorite Sting songs, performing solo with a 12-string guitar and harmonica, singing one verse entirely acapella as the house went quiet.  Sting then joined him for a raucous "Can't Stand Losing You," as they roared into the same mic, leaning over eachother.

How do you follow that? The entire cast soon joined Sting to trade lines on "Every Breath You Take," Gaga singing "Can't you see / You're the one for me" while pointing to a grinning Billy Joel. Sting even kept going, with a solo acoustic "Message in a Bottle." He thought the night was over, but soon wife Trudie Styler appeared onstage in a tight dress, inviting dozens of Scottish bagpipers onstage, who played while confetti fell. Sting was visibly moved, and even as the crowd filed out and the stars left, the couple stayed onstage dancing. "Thank you a million times," he told the audience.

(c) Rolling Stone by Patrick Doyle

Sting Celebrates 60 With Bruce, Gaga, Stevie, 32 Hero Bagpipers...

Sting’s 60th birthday party at the Beacon Theater was a four hour celebration of the rock star’s career and songs with his own band and almost a dozen famous musicians performing his music. They included Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Herbie Hancock, Lady Gaga. Branford Marsalis, will.i.am, Mary J. Blige, Chris Botti, Jimmy Nail, and Met Opera star Bryn Terfel. The latter opened the second act of the show with a rendition of “Roxanne” certain to become part of pop history-it was hilarious and serious at the same time, and showed how Sting’s punkiest new wave music has resonance in many forms.

There were many extraordinary moments on stage and off, where documentary maker Joe Berlinger brought the primary member of the just released Memphis 3, Jason Baldwin. And there were also Robert Downey and his wife Susan (Downey was also in the show), Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Tom Brokaw, Jake Gyllenhaal, directors Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”) and Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), actresses Lorraine Bracco and Melanie Griffith, Fisher Stevens, and Harvey Weinstein, Donna Karan, as well as Patti Scialfa (Mrs, Springsteen), designer Kai Milla Morris (Mrs. Wonder), and Alexa Ray Joel with her dad’s new girlfriend. Michael J. Fox and wife Tracy Pollan attended the afternoon run through only.

It was family night for Sting, too, with his brother and both of his sisters, plus, of course, the magnificent Trudie Styler (Mrs. Sting) radiant in a slinky Pucci gown, and all six of their kids including Sting’s eldest Joe Sumner, who sang with his father on the poignant “Why Do I Cry for You?” dedicated to Sting’s late father. Also present were about a dozen or so of Sting’s pals from his early days in Newcastle, England including the musicians who played with him in jazz groups like the Phoenix Jazzman and Last Exit.

Some highlights: Springsteen gave extraordinary reinterpretations of “Fields of Gold” and “I Hung My Head” - so good that he brought out new meanings in both. He should consider recording them. Stevie Wonder, looking slimmer, played harmonica on “Brand New Day” and then sang a gorgeous version of “Fragile.” Lady Gaga wore one complete concept costume at afternoon rehearsals, then came in a completely different one to the real show. She and Sting finally perfected their duet on “King of Pain.” Gaga continues to impress by showing substance-her voice is terrific-over style. “If You Love Somebody Set them Free” was resurrected as a jazz jam, and Sting rendered an acoustic “Message in a Bottle” as a poignant finale. Robert Downey, Jr, of all things, sang a credible rendition of “Driven to Tears.”

The evening was capped with a surprise for Sting - Styler flew in the 32 member Royal Scots Dragoon Guards - they’re soldiers who’ve completed missions in Afghanistan. She and Sting had seen them this summer in Edinburgh. “They’re incredible heroes,” Styler said, and she’s right. “We’re very proud of them.” The Dragooners’ appearance added a moving finale to an already stunning evening.

Still in all, the evening raised $3.7 million for the Robin Hood Foundation, which disburses funds to impoverished New Yorkers. I’m told that the show was filmed to be part of a free app launching in November.

(c) Showbiz411 by Roger Friedman

Sting concert takes your breath away...

The biggest names in music celebrated the singer’s 60th on Saturday night, watched by Des O’Mahony...

He looks an exceptionally young 60. No doubt the result of a gruelling personal work schedule and his infamous yoga obsession. Sting is a driven, focused workaholic, continually pushing himself workwise and artistically. He has never been the critics’ favourite; most are happier to dwell on his private life and personality traits rather than evaluate the music. As Springsteen commented on stage on Saturday: "It’s funny, anytime I read about him I never recognise the guy I know".

With the demise of The Police in 1984, guitarist Summers and drummer Copeland moved onto specialist oblivion, while Sting remained decidedly centre stage with the release of his first solo album, The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, in 1985. Since then, Sting has been either in the studio or on the road continuously, with album after album and tour after tour, including a famous diversion into Elizabethan lute music in 2006, a surprise reformation with The Police and their record-breaking world tour in 2007/8, and a focus on English traditional music with a winter-themed tour in 2009.

Billed as a "birthday celebration with family and friends", and in keeping with his long-standing tradition of being on stage for his birthday, Sting organised a charity event to coincide with his 60th birthday on October 1 in the intimate setting of The Beacon Theatre on Broadway in New York City. The venue is a small 2,000-seater, and tickets were not on sale to the public but I was lucky enough to be there..

Sporting a shaved head, Sting kicks off the evening with a rousing Englishman In New York, with its signature saxophone line delivered by Branford Marsalis, bringing the audience to their feet. Joining Sting were Christian McBride on double bass, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, David Sancious on keyboards, Dominic Miller on guitar, and a brass and string section. Discussing his Newcastle roots, Sting introduces Jimmy Nail and his son Joe Sumner to sing All This Time, inspired by the shipyards of his hometown. It’s followed by a brace of classics accompanied by the excellent Chris Botti on trumpet, a re-arranged Set Them Free making maximum use of the groove potential in having both Sting on bass and McBride on double bass, working with the excellent Colaiuta on drums.

Bass continued to dominate in a thumping introduction to Walking On The Moon, introducing The Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am to take the vocal line, delivering a brilliant rapped outro that marks the highlight so far.

The legendary Herbie Hancock then takes the stage, filling the shoes of the late Kenny Kirkland, Sting’s pianist in the earlier solo albums. Joined again by Branford Marsalis, a jazz club groove effortlessly develops over a number of Sting’s more sedate melodies, such as Consider Me Gone. The Police anchored him in rock. In a very pleasant surprise, Robert Downey Jr joins the stage to sing lead vocal in Driven To Tears, an exceptional performance that gets prolonged appreciation.

R&B diva Mary J Blige delivered a stirring and emotional performance of the duet Whenever I Say Your Name, which Sting wrote for her a number of years ago. Then, just when you think it can’t get any better, Sting introduces Stevie Wonder to join him on Brand New Day, featuring a brilliant harmonica solo by Wonder. This is followed by Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel taking a booming lead vocal on the classic Roxanne. Billy Joel arrives to sing Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and stays at the piano for a few more numbers, as Rufus Wainwright interprets Wrapped Around Your Finger.

The entire show has a fresh, improvised and natural vibe, and the exceptional quality of musicians on stage is apparent. In a quite incredible jazz workout, Marsalis again trades solo after solo with Hancock in a driving When The World Is Running Down, with Sting and McBride walking stunning bass lines over each other. Lady GaGa arrives and gives a stunning and memorable rendition of King Of Pain. Stevie Wonder then returns with a simply incredible rendition of the wonderful Fragile, getting such prolonged applause that Sting has to comment: "How can you possibly follow that?".

Bruce Springsteen roars through his version of the country-flavoured I Hung My Head, a Sting song that had also been covered by Johnny Cash. Swapping a broken-stringed electric for a simple acoustic, Bruce then does his take on Fields Of Gold, an incredibly emotional version laid bare by the Boss. The band again joins Bruce on stage for a crash through the early Police classic, Can’t Stand Losing You, before all guests join in a chorus-line rendition of Every Breath You Take.

The end of October sees Sting kick off the North American leg of the Back to Bass world tour, which will feature a pared-back four piece band celebrating over 25 years of solo work. At 60, Sting has lost none of his abilities.

(c) The Irish Examiner by Des O’Mahony

SET LIST

(4) Reviews and Comments
daveandwendy - 10.04.11
Sting 60th birthday concert...
On Saturday evening in New York, Sting celebrated his 60th birthday with a cosy little get together at the gorgeous Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. Every seat in the 2,800 capacity venue had been sold out for weeks for the event which raised $3.7m for the Robin Hood Foundation in their work combating poverty in New York. Tickets for the show had cost between $250 and $10,000 and for this sum ticket holders witnessed a show of stunning set piece performances - artists joining Sting to perform their favourite songs of his with him. So, where to start...?

Well, the beginning is as good a place as anywhere. The birthday boy opened the three and a half hour show with - what else? - Englishman In New York, accompanied by the prodigiously gifted Branford Marsalis. Marsalis returned throughout the evening to provide his saxophone runs on a soulful version of If You Love Somebody Set Them Free and with keyboard legend Herbie Hancock on a rare performance of Consider Me Gone as well as Bring On The Night/When The World Is Running Down. Hancock and Sting also performed an extremely jazzy version of Sister Moon in a version very different to Nothing Like The Sun's original.

Worth quickly mentioning the house band for the evening. Dominic Miller (guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), David Sancious (keyboards), Rhani Krija (percussion), Christian McBride (double bass) plus an array of backing vocalists and horn/string players, all under the superb musical direction of Rob Mathes.

Introducing his 1991 song All This Time, Sting invited two fellow Geordies Jimmy Nail and his eldest son Joe to the stage and the three traded lines throughout the deceptively jaunty semi-autobiographical ode to growing up in Newcastle.

Cool, chic trumpeter Chris Botti added his silky tones to both Seven Days and When We Dance (his participation on the latter a result of Vince Gill having to cancel his planned performance due to a death in his family). Botti and Sting have been close friends and musical collaborators since the late '90s, since when Botti has developed into one of the most respected exponents of his instrument around, and is known for a never-ending tour schedule that would put Bob Dylan to shame.

The previous day the Black Eyed Peas had performed a huge concert in Central Park, much of it in a violent thunderstorm, also to aid the Robin Hood Foundation but Will.i.am showed no I'll effects as he joined Sting for a medley of Walking On The Moon//I Got A Feeling, throwing in some snazzy footwork and some equally snazzy rapping. During the interval, Will.i.am was to be found in the bar, good humouredly chatting to audience members and posing for countless photos.

After a rocking version of Hounds of Winter to which Dominic Miller adding some great guitar licks to complement Lisa Fischer's soaring backing vocals the remainder of the first half of the show was devoted to three interesting and very different duets. The first saw actor (and occasional vocalist) Robert Downey Jr join Sting for The Police song Driven To Tears. Downey, in fact, delivered a very convincing performance on the track. The second paired Sting with Mary J. Blige on their Grammy winning song Whenever I Say Your Name, but the third found Sting introduce Stevie Wonder who reprised his superb harmonica playing on Brand New Day.

After a short intermission the second part of the evening kicked off in a bizarre, but engrossing way. Welsh bass baritone Bryn Terfel, fresh from performing as Wotan at New York's Met Opera sang Roxanne accompanied by some minimal acoustic guitar by Miller. This was possibly the strangest rendering of the song yet, finally knocking George Michael's version from the top of that particular list. Strange though, does not mean bad, it was certainly different and hearing Terfel's powerful voice boom out around the theatre was a memorable experience.

Billy Joel joined Sting for the next two songs - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, which seemed estrange choice as Joel seemed to struggle somewhat with the high register - and Don't Stand So Close To Me, on which he fared much better. If I am being honest though I found Joel's section the least gripping of the night, but given he's a local boy and it was his first live appearance for some time the audience enjoyed his performance regardless.

Sting then performed End Of The Game with no celebrity assistance before welcoming his son Joe back to the stage where together they performed an emotional version of Why Should I Cry For You?, the song Sting wrote in 1990 after the death of his father - Joe's grandfather - with whom Sting had never had the easiest of relationships. Sting explained that his father once said to him at the shipyard near his Wallsend home, 'Son, when you're old enough, go to sea' his way of telling his son to lead a more exciting life than his. Sting said, 'Of course, I disappointed him...' Sting has spoken before of often feeling the ghost of his father on stage with him, and when Joe stepped over to his father's microphone, put his arm around his father's shoulder, and sang the final chorus with him I swear the tears in Sting's eyes were visible from my front row seat in the Loge. Powerful stuff for both the birthday boy and his son.

One of the evening's highlights then followed when Rufus Wainwright performed a smouldering version of The Police song Wrapped Around Your Finger. Wainwright's vocal was immensely powerful and delivered beautifully and emotionally. Undoubtedly one of the high spots of the evening, but from this point on the evening was nothing but highs as each performance seemed to hit new peaks.

The unstoppable media force that is Lady GaGa tottered out onto stage, gushed a breathy "Happy birthday, Sweetie" and got down to business. Seemingly never "off duty", the queen monster actually proved she does have plenty of substance to back up the surfeit of style as she bashed out piano chords for King Of Pain. It was a much superior version to the recent duet be teen the pair performed at the recent iHeart radio festival in Las Vegas, which kind of inevitably given the location was too histrionic and over the top judging by the YouTube footage. This version was more muted and all the better for it. Gaga made some subtle lyric changes "The same old thing as yesterday" becoming, for example, "The same old Sting as yesterday" and a few references to being the "Queen of pain", were thrown in for good measure.

After Lady GaGa made her way off stage - you've got to admire the way she manages to transport herself around safely in those monstrously high heels, Stevie Wonder was guided back to the stage where he sang Fragile, bringing out all it's nuances with a delicate vocal performance. As Sting embraced him afterwards he asked, "How do you follow that? Well let me introduce Bruce Springsteen!"

As Springsteen walked slowly to his mic, armed only with his famous battered telecaster you could feel the anticipation build even higher. What was he going to perform? After all, you could have made educated guesses at some of the other guest's choice of songs. He hit the first chords, sang the first words, "Early one morning, with time to kill, I borrowed Jeb's rifle and sat on the hill" of I Hung My Head, Sting's 1996 song covered by the late great Johnny Cash on his last album. Springsteen totally revamped the song, changing Sting's original quirky time signature and giving the song a real sense of desolation. In mid song he broke away to deliver a guitar solo of astonishing ferocity which made this song the high spot of the evening for me. Simply put, it was one of the most riveting performances I have ever witnessed.

He then joshed Sting about his oft reported tantric capabilities, "I read that 'Sting can make love for 29 hours.' I wonder why he never mentioned that to me. After four hours you're supposed to seek medical attention … Anyway, stay hard brother, stay hard." It was time to brucify another Sting standard, this time the ballad Fields Of Gold, with a rendition that had everyone purring with delight. Delivered in that infamous deep drawl and performed on acoustic guitar and harmonica he again took another's song and made it entirely his own. He stayed on for a third number, this time the Police's Can't Stand Losing You which rocked beautifully, Springsteen trading guitar licks with Miller and vocal lines with Sting. It was a stupendously good version of my favourite Police track - the one which hooked me the first time I heard it some 33 years ago when I caught the entirely unknown and, admittedly, the entirely unhip at the time band, on the Old Grey Whistle Test.

Sting then performed Desert Rose before everyone reconvened on stage for a mass singalong of the inevitable Every Breath You Take. Good fun, if a little shambolic given the number of artists having to contribute a line or two during the song. By this time however, the balcony floors at the Beacon were bouncing up and down from the dancing and cheering from the audience. The stage cleared and Sting returned to perform an acoustic solo version of Message In A Bottle, but as the applause died down, his wife, Trudie Styler, walked on to the stage to his evident surprise. They exchanged a few whispered words and then he sang a few bars of I Was Brought To My Senses to her. In return she made a little speech to the effect of how much he hates surprises, and that every year on his birthday she always surprises him with something. There was a distant wail of pipes and drums and the audience were treated to the staggering site of the thirty two members of the Pipe & Drums of Royal Scots Dragoon Guards marching up the aisles from the back of the theatre to the left and right of the stage and then up on to the stage itself where they proceeded to play. The celebrity performers came back on the stage and it was fun to watch Lady GaGa eyeing up the piper next to her, stroking his bearskin hat gently and glancing at the tartan kilt. Watch out for a forthcoming outfit influenced heavily by what she saw tonight - perhaps at November's Children In Need Concert?

There was still time for a shower of rose petals to drop from the ceiling onto the stage and for Sting and Trudie to dance together for a while before Sting offered everyone his thanks for attending his party. And what a fine party it had been. A free, night long bar for everyone attending and sublime entertainment throughout the evening. It's not just Sting who'll remember his 60th birthday for a very long while.

stingcom - 09.08.11
Sorry - sold out...
Sorry but all of our allotment of tickets has sold out.
lizasp - 09.08.11
concert's ticket
is there still a possibility to get a ticket for oct 1?
Malcolm - 09.06.11
Malcolm James
I want to purchase 4 tickets for the 01 October 2011 concert. How do i purchase these please.