Roseland Ballroom, New York, 9th November 2011...
I always seem to get asked questions' whenever I am at a Sting concert, tonight was no different in that respect. "Do you know where Sting is?" I get asked, as I'm standing outside the Roseland Ballroom (after the concert), the questioner is Trudie!
I have been so very lucky and honoured to have managed to notch up four dates on the current "Back to Bass" tour during November. I've been on a roll since I started my first date on this tour in Toronto at Massey Hall.
The first night at the Roseland Ballroom was an incredible experience up in the Mezzanine section. I had a side view with an excellent view of the centre of the stage and Sting. In front of me was a small narrow VIP section with stools and tables. I thought this was for the LiveNation VIP ticket holders; no I was wrong, right in front of me, tables 4, 5 & 6 were for Sting's friends and family. One of the first sights Trudie had of the concert was my air drumming throughout 'All This Time!' She is smiling as I glance over to her. Later, I am able to introduce myself and she holds my hand like a mother would greet her beloved son. There is a lot of love in the VIP section, a beautiful moment during 'Fields of Gold', when Coco and Trudie kiss and embrace. The splendour of Trudie's beaming smile as Sting sings 'Sacred Love' looking up to his wife are cherished moments for me. (The version on the second night at the Ballroom was the best I've heard so far on the tour.)
By the end of the concert I'm using all the space available in the Mezzanine section, I'm leaping around during 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Next to You', on the latter, people are reaching for their mobiles to capture my moves, they fail, I'm too quick.
So, on this Second night in New York, I thought I had just purchased a normal general admission ticket. I was pleasantly surprised that it said side stage on it. This was a separate section, with probably only 50 people in this section and a bar. Not that I had a drink at the venue, even though I had a wristband stating I was over 21! (General Admission concerts do put your legs and bladder through a "Krypton factor" endurance test?)
This section was more like a second stage and I was on it! I perched myself next to a small sidewall, which I could lean on for support. My dance routine of the previous night was taking its toll on my legs; I was in need of a "walking cane by my side?"
There were a couple of pregnant women seated in front of me (nothing to do with me!). Although I was convinced one of them was not, as she did get up and dance very enthusiastically throughout the whole of 'Desert Rose', luckily the waters didn't burst "like a river in flood!"
Another notable event, apparently occurred during this song? Although other fans do not believe me, that I didn't see this? Apparently one enthusiastic female fan had a deliberate wardrobe malfunction in front of Sting to get his attention in B or C? (I don't think Sting even noticed?)
At what point Sting observed me, is probably up for debate, but it may have been the first song, it might have been, as I absolutely rocked out during 'Demolition Man', I stood out like a sore thumb. I was surprised the crowd in the floor section were not following my lead. It was tightly packed there, so to be fair, not much room for most people to dance. I was soaking up Dominic's guitar riff, I was in my element.
I did hear some raised voices behind me. That was not to do with anything I was up to, but a man was getting into argument with another about his dancing style. How a fight didn't kick off, I don't know, but Scott (the security personnel) diffused the situation brilliantly. The staff were very friendly at the venue, which is always a huge plus, even though they took my ticket from me (because that was procedure for people situated in the side section), they did give me my ticket back at the end of the concert.
Even though I was being enthusiastic nobody bothered me at all, apart from asking me questions about the set list, I reply like the musical equivalent to Roget's Thesaurus. The previous night an audience member looked stunned when he asked me what the next song was, I replied immediately 'Fields of Gold' just before Sting makes the announcement. Where I found the energy from to dance so much, I have no idea?
During the middle section of 'Driven To Tears' Sting shifts his direction from looking straight ahead to singing directly towards me. His gaze appears firmly fixated on me, that other Englishman in New York doing a performance all of his own on the second stage! Absolutely priceless, people around me pick up on this fact. I get asked another question on whether he plays 'Desert Rose', I reply yes, but it's later on in the set.
I get the feeling during Sting's introductions to his songs; I'm first out of the blocks. My voice carries on 'Heavy Cloud No Rain' on the first night most of Sting's friends turn around at this point and look at me! (Everybody laughed but...) Some people might have a complex at this point, not me, ''No Rain'' I keep replying to the question! I'm singing so loudly, was my voice going to last the distance?
What was very noticeable was the crowd in the floor section were talking during Sting's introductions; especially loud during 'Inside' was disconcerting, some people were trying to make people quiet; I thought the people being noisy were being rude and downright disrespectful.
The musical fiddle pairing of Jo Lawry and Peter Tickell on 'Love is Stronger than Justice' and 'Never Coming Home' is the zenith for me in the set. Jo Lawry really goes for it vocally during the "want to live my life on my own..." lyric that's really the first I see of her in the concert, as the speaker stack hides my view of her. (Tragic!) The song is definitely my signature tune now, I love how it builds from an almost trance like beginning to a totally climatic conclusion. At the start of the song I raise my hand showing "five" as I sing "it's five in the morning and the light's already broken". I hadn't fully realised the synchronicity of the lyrical significance, until I made it back to my hotel at the same time of the morning!
The next day I am listening to the 2011 mix of the song on the Sting bench in Central Park, before I head back home, hoping that this tour will follow me back there?
(c) Roger Puplett for Sting.com
Hugh Jackman Sends Sting His Thanks in Broadway Playbill...
Hugh Jackman opens tonight on Broadway, doing his song and dance routine with wild enthusiasm and endless vigor. Did he get tips from rock star Sting? You betcha. In the Playbill for the show, Jackman makes sure to add: "Special thanks to Sting, too!" Of course Jackman is a mere 43. Sting just turned 60. Last night, though, Sting was like a man (a man in very good shape) of 33 as he rocked the Roseland Ballroom for the second night in a row. Sting's "Back to Bass" show reclaims his rock star status with a thoroughly punchy punk performance that includes his big hits and some gems that he recovered from older albums like 'Sacred Love' and 'Inside'. It's the amazing breadth and depth of Sting's solo catalog that it keeps being reworked either in symphonic form or in renewed rock. The Roseland audience - which included actors Joe Mantello and Fisher Stevens - was loud, loud, loud all night singing along with all the lyrics. The massive space was also quite literally sold out to the rafters. Sting returns tonight to Washington DC's Constitution Hall, and then heads west for more sold out shows. His box set, "25 Years," is a stunning music gift this Christmas. The single best of CD culled from the box is a bestseller.
(c) Showbiz411 by Roger Freidman