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