SHOW REVIEW

Sting at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts; June 11, 2012...

The idea of a Sting career overview with a small band didn't sound half bad when we heard about the Back to Bass tour, named after the singer-songwriter's return to the electric instrument he played aggressively in a famous peroxided trio.

But deeper reflection should have thrown cold water on the excitement: we're talking mostly Sting solo material here, with six of 20 songs in Monday night's concert at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts dating from his halcyon years with the Police.

Consider, for example, this somewhat punishing sequence, which made up the entire second half of the pre-encore setlist: 'Fields of Gold', 'Sacred Love', 'Heavy Cloud No Rain', 'Shape of My Heart', 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)', 'The Hounds of Winter', 'The End of the Game' and 'Never Coming Home'.

If you came to hear songs from 'Sacred Love' or '10 Summoner's Tales', you were in luck. Both of you. If you were hoping for 'Message In a Bottle', 'Roxanne', 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' or even 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', it wasn't your night.

Sure, granted, no artist should be forced to play only the hits he recorded in his 20s and 30s forever. The problem with Sting's post-Police work, however, is how dramatically the quality of the songwriting went downhill after his first solo album, 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'. Instantly forgettable selections like 'Seven Days' and 'I Hung My Head' - both played Monday night - soon became the norm. The audience, accordingly, was offered a few too many tuneless throwaways.

No blame can be placed on the musicians in Sting's band. The opening trio of songs - 'All This TIme', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Englishman In New York' - were attacked with playful urgency, allowing virtually no stops between them.

Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta proved himself to be a rock-solid asset from the get-go and never failed to toughen up even the weaker material. Guitarist Dominic Miller and electric fiddle player Peter Tickell dazzled the audience with their chops, the latter earning a standing ovation for his furious soloing during 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice'. The wailing of backup vocalist Jo Lawry, particularly in 'Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing)', surely gained her some new fans, too. Keyboard player David Sancious added texture to flesh out the sound. With all that going on, these guys made 'Driven to Tears' a highlight and were even able to rescue material like 'The Hounds of Winter'.

Quite apart from the audience's appreciation of the level of musicianship, the crowd showed plenty of love throughout the evening, greeting both the oldies and the solo songs with keen enthusiasm. Tellingly, however, the three songs chosen to send everyone home on a high were all by the Police.

(c) The Montreal Gazette by Bernard Perusse

(5) Reviews and Comments
andrebarriere - 06.15.12
Back to Bass Show in Montreal
Monday June 11, 20h in the Wilfrid-Pelletier room of the Place of Arts in Montreal where took place the splendid concert of Sting. Our seats BB-18 & BB-20 were very close to the stage and we attended a memorable performance. Sting as always is also very charismatic. He performed in an admirable way. The choice of its repertory for this show is in my humble opinion very moving and of a great intensity. He joined with on guitar by his friend Dominic Miller whose tones are absolutely creamy and of a sound design worthy of the best guitarists of our time. His playing is absolutely perfect for the current repertory. That to say drummer Vinnie Colauita, if it is not that he is of a virtuosity without equal. He amalgamates the heavy pounding of hard rock with the wisdom of a contemporary jazz techniques. The keyboard player David Sanciousest was quite simply brilliant, he controls his multitude of programmed samples and synthetic prowess with a hand of Master and its technique is completely original. OJ Lawry transports us with her voice, to where we would never have believed to be able to feel these new emotions and the very young Peter Tickell on the violin whose ardour and insouscience result in an explosion of melodies and solos all more exciting the ones than the others. In short, the Back to Bass show of Sting accompanied by a thorough formation as solid as rock, transformed us into other human beings which we were not before that show. Our consciousness went into an altered state for our being to be better. Sting you touch us in the deepest of our beings, you have changed our human condition and expanded our minds to new levels of consciousness. Thank you Sting for having walked by through our daily lives and made it better. André
andrebarriere - 06.13.12
Sting à Montréal
Lundi 11 juin, 20h à la salle Wilfrid-Pelletier de la Place des Arts de Montréal qu'à eu lieu ce magnifique spectacle de Sting. Nous avions les sièges BB-18 & BB-20 très près de la scène et avons assisté à une performance mémorable.Sting est toujours aussi charismatique. Il performe d'une façon admirable. Le choix de son répertoire pour cette tournée est à mon humble avis très émouvant et d'une grande intensité. Il est accompagné à la guitare  par son ami Dominic Miller dont les sonorités sont absolument crémeuses et d'une recherche sonore digne des grands guitaristes de notre époque. Son jeu de guitare est absolument parfait pour le répertoire actuel. Que dire du batteur Vinnie Colauita, si ce n'est qu'il est d'une virtuosité sans égale. Il fusionne la pesanteur du hard rock avec la sagesse d'un jazz contemporain. Le claviériste David Sanciousest tout simplement génial, il contrôle sa multitude de sonorités programmées d'une main de maître et sa technique est tout à fait originale. Jo Lawry aux voix nous transporte là où nous n'aurions jamais cru se rendre en émotions et le tout jeune Peter Tickell au violon dont la fougue et l'insouscience résulte en une explosion de mélodies et de solos tous plus exaltants les uns que les autres. Bref le spectacle simple de Sting accompagné d'une formation solide comme le rock nous a transformé en d'autres êtres humains que nous n'étions pas avant le spectacle. Notre conscience s'est altérée pour notre mieux être. Sting tu nous touche au plus profond de nos êtres avec ton humble sensibilité et ta grande générosité. Merci pour ton bref passage dans nos vies. ANDRÉ
stingcom - 06.13.12
Montreal 11th June 2012
Anybody thinking my travels for 2012 ended in Hammersmith in March would be proved wrong. By all accounts most people seemed surprised to see me, none more so, than Canadian immigration when I started my trip off in Vancouver. (That's another story in itself, for the book of my life?) My Q & A session ended with the official saying 'If I was to type your details and the word Sting into a search engine' (I'm trying not to show any emotion, thinking I could be here for a very long time) as the official retreats to a secure locked backroom. On her return, the only words she utters is 'exit far right!' (You could tell she was not happy at all. My previous review of Sting in Toronto, obviously wasn't the read she was after?)

Montreal was teaming with life and had a party atmosphere in the air; the F1 Canadian Grand-Prix had taken place the previous day, (a good day to be British). But, would our luck stretch to the European football, (where France and England were playing a crucial game), with everything going on here and the hot weather, the game had completely slipped my mind. Luckily Peter Tickell was able to update me on our team's progress; it was such a pleasure talking to Peter, Dom, Vinnie and Billy before the show, everybody was enjoying the warm weather and the sounds of the free music festival happening in the surrounding streets before Showtime.

The Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier building in the Place des Arts is a lovely cosy venue, from where I was sitting. Unusually for me I was just doing the Montreal show, I'm not normally known as just a 'One Concert type of guy?' Howard Page achieved an amazing job with the sound mix; by his own admission, this was a difficult venue to get the sound balance right. The acoustics were stunning and loud, Dominic's guitar sound has never sounded better.

Although this tour isn't strictly 'Back to Bass' as such, the set-list revolves around the core structure of songs from this tour. Notably that evening, there was no 'Fortress', 'Ghost Story' or 'Inside' (I am reliably informed that 'Inside' was played at the sound check though)

The musical dimension has shifted slightly, there is no Rufus and David Sancious returns to the Sting fold on keyboard duties. He does change the musical dynamic of the band, but in a very subtle way.

'Sacred Love' takes on an almost religious flavour in the keyboard playing, almost organ like in the later part of the song. Sting's bass is less funky and less prominent in the mix as well. The crowd look a bit confused during Sting's introduction about sex and religion being related? You could tell most people around me were not familiar with the song. Either that or the audience couldn't understand why I was moving around in my chair, singing the lyrics (quietly, I hasten to add) and leaving my hair in a mess!

Most of Sting's introductions that evening were spoken in French; most notably apart from 'If I was to say Heavy Cloud'¦..' whether that was for my benefit, I doubt it, more of a question I don't know the French for heavy cloud? (Lourd nuage, maybe?) No Rain! I reply, my lone voice projects out from row 8. Sting smiles profusely and responds 'Can you say that again?' looking directly at me. I duly oblige, with now a 'to and fro' dialogue intensifying with the rest of the audience now joining in.

I was certainly the catalyst in that moment but nobody was following my lead at the beginning of 'Never Coming Home' My boyish enthusiasm brimming over, as I am proudly singing 'it's five in the morning', the looks I'm getting (I'm thinking to myself, how many people here own Sacred Love?) from the crowd are really funny, I'm sure they are thinking eccentric Quebecer? The song sounds mostly similar to on the 'Back to Bass' tour, you might expect an extended long form David Sancious keyboard jam at this point, but the song was the same length of time it normally it is.

That's not to say the Montreal crowd were not as lively as their past form would bear testament to. The atmosphere was reserved and hugely appreciative throughout, Sting was taken a back at the end of both 'Fields of Gold' and 'Shape of my Heart' where the audience continued clapping and clapping, Sting almost looked embarrassed, 'You are so kind'¦' The claps went on for such a long time at the end of 'Fields of Gold' Sting almost had to say that's enough, here is the next song.

From 'Desert Rose' onwards everybody was on their feet, it's like I've got a whirlwind of energy I needed to use up. Earlier on, I resisted jumping around doing my usual moves during "Demolition Man" I really wanted to get up and start dancing at this point, but the vibe from the audience was mostly seated. A good dose of air drumming ensued, the gentleman to the right of me, was enjoying this awesome track, not phased one bit, Dominic particularly rocked.

This concert had all the sparkle and energy that was exhibited at the Manchester gig and some more, everything is so musically tight. Although, there was still room for a few surprises, there was a beautiful moment where sting laughs during 'Seven Days' during the lyric 'Ask if I am mouse or man the mirror squeaked, away I ran'¦' David Sancious has a keyboard effect that sounds like a mouse, it tickled Sting, and I burst out laughing. I know people around me didn't pick up on it.

The beginning section of 'Driven to Tears 'was particularly different sounding, to the extent you could be excused of thinking it was a different song, Dominic's guitar playing was spot on, he was letting it rip, truly monumental, the warm appreciative cheers were testament to this, I hope the audio was being recorded here, it would make a fine commercial release.

Other highlights from Back to Bass are still in the set, Vinnie's trademark 'Hounds of Winter' press drum roll, Sting's introduction, 'He can do this for hours' as Sting jokes and seeks encouragement from the crowd to 'make some noise!'

As ever Jo Lawry's vocals melt me every time, on 'Hounds of Winter', and on those immortal lines 'Take me dancing tonight' in 'Stolen Car.'

As usual Peter Tickell's musical fiddle playing on 'Love is Stronger than Justice' is brilliant, there was no way I could stay in my seat, I was first to my feet at the climax of the song, the Montreal crowd gave a warm and loud standing ovation. Peter looking visibly moved at my appreciation, much deserved.

It is great to have 'King of Pain' back in the set, it even took me by surprise a little bit, must be heat effecting me? The Montreal crowd are in full swing, I'm in my element, if you could bottle that moment, wow. This huge momentum from the band, and vibe from the crowd's reaches fever pitch during EBYT, Sting is clearly happy with the crowd reaction and extends the song for some more refrains, it's notably longer than normal.

I just had enough energy to keep my dance moves going for a truly rocking' version of "Next To You", where my final jump I nearly go splat into the seat in front of me. Thank goodness for fixed seating!

Surprisingly, that's where the concert ended, no 'Fragile' or acoustic "Message in a Bottle" at the end, given the tight scheduling for this part of the tour to get to Lewiston, and venue curfew arrangements, the allotted time slot was all but used up. We would have all loved to be there for a lot longer still.

We are now fast approaching some of the festival dates, and I could well see the addition of 'Bring on the Night / WTWIRD' being at the forefront of yet another superb Sting tour.

There are other magic moments from the concert that will no doubt materialise in due course once the haze of jet-lag wears off. Now the question for the weekend is; will there be heavy cloud in Norway?

(c) Roger Puplett for Sting.com
andrebarriere - 06.06.12
Quel bonheur !
Bienvenue à Montréal Sting. J'assisterai au spectacle lundi prochain à la Place des Arts. Selon la Set List du spectacle de St-Louis USA ce sera un spectacle exaltant j'en suis certain. La venue de Sting accompagné par la meilleure formation musicale, est attendue depuis si longtemps. J'anticipes ce concert et ne peu m'empêcher de penser que j'assisterai à un événement mené par un homme de grande sagesse et que dire de ces musiciens extraordinaires qui l'accompagne. Ce spectacle sera des plus émouvant et porteur de connaissance. André
andrebarriere - 06.06.12
Quel bonheur !
Bienvenue Sting à Montréal. C'est lundi prochain que j'assisterai au spectacle de Sting à la Place des Arts. Accompagné par son meilleur personnel, ce sera l'exaltation j'en suis sûre, si l'on se réfère à la Set List du spectacle de St-Louis. J'anticipes la venue de spectacle magique et la présence de cet homme de sagesse Stiong. André.