Brand New Day
Apr
30
2000
New Orleans, USJazz and Heritage Festival
With Funky Meters
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Sting at Jazzfest...

Those expecting an uptempo romp through Sting and The Police's greatest hits likely left disappointed, as his 90-minute set in front of an enormous crowd at the Acura Stage followed the course of his concert at the Saenger Theater in November. Like that show, his set emphasized the jazzier elements of his solo material and his road band, which features jazz trumpeter Chris Botti.

Dressed for the outdoors in a black muscle shirt and matching cargo pants and armed with his bass, an energized Sting launched his band into 'If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free', then pulled back for 'Perfect Love Gone Wrong', from his most recent album. He and his musicians navigated the hide-and-seek stop and start of 'Seven Days', then settled down for the lovely, pastoral 'Fields of Gold'. And then they were back up for a faithful take on the Police chestnut 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', obviously, went over huge, with Botti's cool trumpet lines devolving into screeching vamps. The sunny optimism of 'Brand New Day' was perfectly suited for a glorious afternoon at the Fair Grounds, such as Sunday was. 'Roxanne' was broken down into a bass riff set against the kick drum, with Sting repeating, ''Ohhh, Roxanne, oh'' for dramatic effect.

Given the less-than-intimate setting, he scrapped one of the more effective elements from the Saenger show: His quietly moving remake of 'Message In a Bottle', which he performed alone with an acoustic guitar. Instead, he and his keyboardist showed off their chops by stretching out 'When the World Is Running Down', then encored with the populist 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Every Breath You Take'. ''Thanks for listening,'' Sting said. ''Invite us back.'' If Jazzfest wants to continue its experiment with big-league pop bands, this one deserves a return engagement.

(c) The Times-Picayune by Keith Spera



Sting performs at the New Orleans Jazz Festival

New Orleans (pronounced N'Awlins by locals) is the least American city I've ever been to in the United States. The heart of the city is the French Quarter, where narrow streets are jammed with noisy revellers at Mardi Gras and New Year's Eve. (And there is often a Moon over Bourbon Street, as we know) It is, at times, a place of refined elegance, fine dining and Southern traditions, mixed with a dash of Cajun spice, and a walk on the wild side. Jamabalaya, crawfish pie and file gumbo, po-boys, creole shrimp and lots of tabasco hot sauce.

But being famous for great food and great parties isn't the only tradition here, it is often considered the birthplace of jazz, for it's history of Dixieland and Louis Armstrong, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Pete Fountain. This year was the 31st annual New Orleans Jazz Festival, and headliners included Erykah Badu, Harry Connick Jr., the Neville Brothers, and the other brothers, Marsalis, Lyle Lovett... and of course, Sting!

Located at a sprawling racetrack, the Jazz Festival takes place over two weekends and has 10 stages of continuous music, everything from lively Louisiana zydeco to Brazilian dancers. You can find soft shell crab and shrimp etouffee, frozen hurricanes and lots of cold beer. They never ''sell out'' and the crowds get larger each year, while the heat and humidity are such that medical tents are set up throughout the fairgrounds to treat dehydration and heat stroke.

Sting was the biggest name performer on Sunday, April 30, and although I arrived at the stage area before 12:00 for his show, scheduled 5-7 pm, there was already quite a crowd camped out in front, staking their areas with blankets, folding chairs and colourful flags. People were friendly and relaxed, standing up for each performer, clapping and dancing, sitting down during breaks between acts. The crowd quickly grew to the thousands, as local favourite ''the funky Meters'' were set to perform before Sting. As the afternoon progressed, more and more people jammed into the grassy space, and soon there were people in all directions as far back as you could see.

Sting was a little late starting, as the bands had been running late all day. Finally at 5:30, Kipper came out with 2 crutches (a recent injury?). A huge cheer went up as Sting, looking tanned from his Hawaii gigs, strode onto the stage. He got the show going on a high energy note with 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' then continued with his set from the tour, taking out 'I'm So Happy, I Can't Stop Crying' (perhaps a double dose of country tunes would be a bit much at the Jazz Fest...)

Unlike the New Orleans audience at the Saenger Theatre this past November, this festival crowd was standing up, clapping, cheering and dancing throughout the show. Many people I talked to had never seen Sting perform live before, and were quite impressed by his music and energetic performance style. The biggest crowd pleasers were: 'Englishman', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', and 'Roxanne'.

A number of video cameras were used for close up shots on huge monitor screens, so Sting and the band were visible to those a distance back, or, in my case, much shorter than the people in front of them!

The crowd didn't sing along at first, or do the call-and-response sections on the songs, but Sting coaxed them along and soon had them echoing back: ''Roxann-O''. Chris Botti was also a crowd favourite, and people seemed to enjoy the improvisation piano solo on 'When the World is Running Down' by Jason Rebello. The stage didn't have the elaborate staging: backdrops and drapes, or the fire on 'Desert Rose', as it was set up for all the bands with the same colourful curtain. Sting went off after 'When The World Is Running Down', then returned for his first two encore numbers: 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Every Breath You Take' - before taking a final bow right at 7pm. We had hoped he would play later due to the half hour delay in starting, but the festival probably needed to end on time.

I made some new Sting friends, from California, Kansas and Louisiana, and, of course, loved every minute of the show. Although I still had a 6 hour drive back to Houston that night, the excitement and adrenaline of the concert stayed with me, boosted by singing along to my Sting CD's all the way down the dark and lonely highway. Needless to say, I was very tired when I finally got home, but as we all know... it was definitely worth it to see a Sting concert! He is just the best there is.

(c) Tammi Reed for Sting.com



Sting plays the N'awlins Jazz & Heritage Festival...

Just back from New Orleans and the Jazz Festival and let me say that from where I was sitting it's been many years since I have been in a crowd as large as the one I was in. The paper reported that there was approximately 78,000 people in attendance that day, and from my perspective, they were all at the Acura stage, where Sting and band performed!

Sting came on a little late. Since I was alone I managed to scrunch to the front up as far as I could and still maintain some breathing room. Sting followed the Funky Meters (Art Neville and a fabulous band) who were very popular as they had a new guitar player who was awesome. They really warmed things up. Everyone was standing and dancing. But, the crowd was really well behaved, I must say, (I suppose the Miller and Anhauser Busch stock rose sharply on Monday, however!). Fantastic mix of people in this audience too. All ages, which shows his appeal and why so many were there for hours parked just to see him perform.

Sting did a really good set of music with a good mix of old and new material (the old Police tunes had the younger ones crazed). I was laughing to myself at how strange it is for kids of 20 or so to know all these songs. Must have been the parents, who are probably my age now, that introduced them to it. I had a blast just watching everyone.

The Jumbo video screen helped those in the back get a look at Sting and the band. Sting looked sensational - no news here. Black tank, black trousers (the cargo ones he's been wearing recently) and he looked hot (temperature wise). It was hot, sunny but thank God there was a breeze. His voice sounded a little hoarse, I thought, from the onset - but given the schedule he's kept this long year that's hardly surprising. He often sipped a beverage (looked like tea) from where I was, to soothe his throat, and. I thought he seemed to struggle through some songs, pushing himself to make notes, but he did. On other songs - he sounded perfect as if there was no effort at all. But it was loud and not a perfect venue, (I prefer the smaller houses) but the fans loved it and so did I. He worked hard to please the audience with the songs they really wanted to hear.

A slightly shorter set list than normal included 'If You Love Somebody', 'All This Time', 'Perfect Love', 'Seven Days', 'Tomorrow We'll See', 'Fields Of Gold', 'Englishman In New York', 'Roxanne', 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', 'Fill Her Up', 'Brand New Day', 'Desert Rose', 'Every Little Thing', 'When The World Is Running Down', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith', 'Every Breath You Take'.

I don't know if I would go to that type of event again to see Sting, but I guess it depends on how long it will be for another tour. I cannot even imagine what that life is like, travelling and performing, month after month. God, he needs a well earned rest. But he was great and the folks in New Orleans loved him.

(c) Doreen Miller for Sting.com

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