Brand New Day
Jul
18
2000
Minneapolis, USTarget Center
With Tracy Chapman
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Sting improves, but it's not perfect yet...

These days, the big pop-music stars are doing things differently. Instead of playing back-to-back nights in one town, they do a sold-out concert and then come back a few months later for another show.

On Tuesday, Tina Turner, who opened her U.S. tour in Minneapolis, announced a return engagement at Target Center in November. Agents for 'N Sync and Dixie Chicks, each of which sold out the Minneapolis arena this summer, are negotiating for fall concerts at Target Center.

At least Sting has a different strategy. He performed in December at the intimate, soldout Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. On Tuesday, he came back to town at Target Center. It was essentially the same songs played by the same musicians with the same backdrops, lighting and slide shows.

Was it better? Yes and no.

Sting himself was better - more playful, more spontaneous in his comments (he wondered why Minnesota summers are so short), more consistently spirited and, as always, in fine voice. So why wasn't the show better?

With 12,000 people, Target Center wasn't exactly intimate, and the acoustics are no match for the Orpheum's. (Neither was the ticket price - $150 tops at the theater, $75 at the arena.) More significantly, Sting's band leaves much to be desired. At both venues, the players came across like hired hands, lacking the chemistry, spontaneity and confidence of the previous ensembles he has brought to the Twin Cities.

In 1985, Sting made a movie, 'Bring on the Night', about the making of his first solo album. There was a warmth and camaraderie among those musicians. If he were to make a movie of the band with which he played on his current 'Brand New Day' CD and tour, it might be called, ''My Dinner with Andre, er, Sting.''

Sting, 48, has long been able to play the role of the intellectual pop singer. (No, it's not an oxymoron, he'll tell you.) In both lyrics and music, his songs have depth and complexity, presenting challenges beyond the buoyant world-pop that made him famous as the lead singer of the Police. But the crowd on Tuesday wanted to party. Sting's body language - his swaying hips and bouncy struts - suggested that he, too, wanted to get down. But the band seemed like it was making mundane dinner-table conversation until the inevitable 'Roxanne', the song that turned things around for the Police and for the 110-minute concert.

To his credit, Sting reworked his older material, bringing a Paul Simon-like Afro-pop vibe to 'River Flows' and shifting to a carousel-like gallop during 'Seven Days'. 'Fields of Gold', framed by pretty acoustic guitar, was probably the only song that sounded like its recorded version. But the Target Center fans didn't seem to want an evening of tuneless sophisticated jazz-pop - they wanted a summer party with the chief of Police.

Opening act Tracy Chapman didn't show the voice, personality or musical dynamics to warrant performing in an arena until she cut loose on the closing hit 'Gimme One Reason'.

(c) The Star Tribune by Jon Bream



Band leaves much to be desired at Sting's Target Center performance...

These days, the big pop-music stars are doing things differently. Instead of playing back-to-back nights in one town, they do a sold-out concert and then come back a few months later for another show.

On Tuesday, Tina Turner, who opened her U.S. tour in Minneapolis, announced a return engagement at Target Center in November. Agents for 'N Sync and Dixie Chicks, each of which sold out the Minneapolis arena this summer, are negotiating for fall concerts at Target Center.

At least Sting has a different strategy. He performed in December at the intimate, soldout Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. On Tuesday, he came back to town at Target Center. It was essentially the same songs played by the same musicians with the same backdrops, lighting and slide shows.

Was it better? Yes and no.

Sting himself was better - more playful, more spontaneous in his comments (he wondered why Minnesota summers are so short), more consistently spirited and, as always, in fine voice. So why wasn't the show better? With 12,000 people, Target Center wasn't exactly intimate, and the acoustics are no match for the Orpheum's. (Neither was the ticket price - $150 tops at the theater, $75 at the arena.) More significantly, Sting's band leaves much to be desired. At both venues, the players came across like hired hands, lacking the chemistry, spontaneity and confidence of the previous ensembles he has brought to the Twin Cities.

In 1985, Sting made a movie, 'Bring on the Night', about the making of his first solo album. There was a warmth and camaraderie among those musicians. If he were to make a movie of the band with which he played on his current 'Brand New Day' CD and tour, it might be called, ''My Dinner with Andre, er, Sting.''

Sting, 48, has long been able to play the role of the intellectual pop singer. (No, it's not an oxymoron, he'll tell you.) In both lyrics and music, his songs have depth and complexity, presenting challenges beyond the buoyant world-pop that made him famous as the lead singer of the Police. But the crowd on Tuesday wanted to party. Sting's body language - his swaying hips and bouncy struts - suggested that he, too, wanted to get down. But the band seemed like it was making mundane dinner-table conversation until the inevitable 'Roxanne', the song that turned things around for the Police and for the 110-minute concert.

To his credit, Sting reworked his older material, bringing a Paul Simon-like Afro-pop vibe to 'River Flows' and shifting to a carousel-like gallop during 'Seven Days'. 'Fields of Gold', framed by pretty acoustic guitar, was probably the only song that sounded like its recorded version. But the Target Center fans didn't seem to want an evening of tuneless sophisticated jazz-pop - they wanted a summer party with the chief of Police.

Opening act Tracy Chapman didn't show the voice, personality or musical dynamics to warrant performing in an arena until she cut loose on the closing hit 'Gimme One Reason'.

(c) The Minneapolis Star Tribune by Jon Bream



Decadent, bored Sting plays great, mall-friendly show...

Sometime Tuesday, Sting's omnipresent Jaguar commercial (''What, then do rock stars dream of?'') was playing on a televison near you. At the Science Museum in St. Paul, an Imax Theatre movie about dolphins played to its Sting-crafted soundtrack, while at the Target Center, the luxury boxes were full and the banners proclaiming ''sting.compaq.com'' hung from the stage with care.

Two songs into his concert, the man himself sang, ''We're forever conditioned to believe that we can't live here with less/So many riches, so many souls/Everything we see, we want to possess.''

All of which makes Sting the perfect rock star for our times: Sort of mad, but not really angry. Philosophical, but not spiritual. Corporate sexy. Corporate rock. Corporate passion.

During the course of his two-hour performance Tuesday night, Sting pleased the crowd of 12,000 with such hits as 'Desert Rose', the old Police hits 'Message In A Bottle', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and Every Breath You Take', an annoying extended version of 'Roxanne', which went nowhere fast, and 'Fill Her Up', a gospel mess. (Uh, Sting? Real gospel music makes people clap, not confused. Maybe you should quit writing so much of your material in 7/4 time, and people could actually dance, instead of doing the Caucasian hip lurch).

With grooves as sinuous and as antiseptic as the boulevards of Eagan and Eden Prairie, it all inspired not so much passion as the pleasant gazing upon of a painstakingly manicured lawn. All truly great music - and by great, I mean moving, damaging, challenging - is dangerous. And by dangerous, I mean the opposite of safe. Tuesday night, Sting's music was as safe as a mall's water fountain.

His six-piece band, whose members looked as bored as any bored arena rock band ever has, played a mixture of lite jazz, lite world music, and lite rock that could have been Muzak coming over the Rainforest Cafe sound system. At one point, the drummer came to center stage and rapped a rasta-rap, giving it all a faux currency, as if hip-hop is a fashion accessory to be tried on and discarded.

In that sense, Sting's entire performance came off as extremely colonial: He flirts with a fascination with other cultures, but ultimately he wants to ride in his Jaguar, spout his Jungian-lifted lyrics, count his money, dream his rock star dreams.

In the end, there is something extremely Clintonesque about him. You sort of like the man, but you wonder if he really stands for anything other than himself. Perhaps the greatest compliment one can pay to Sting, with respect to his performance Tuesday, is that it bespoke an attitude so decadent and bored, it made opener Tracy Chapman's feel-good political pose seem like a revolution. Wow.

(c) The St Paul Pioneer Press by Jim Walsh

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