Sting returns home...
The new Newcastle Arena is a new venue part financed by the late Chas Chandler and Nigel Stanger (ex Newcastle Big Band), Security was lax getting in with no frisking or searching but once inside the staff were keen eyed for camera flashes.
While we waited Paul Carrack played a short set; we saw Miles Copeland prowling around the stage area (easily spotted with that mass of silver hair); then Agnes, Sting's famous granny (now 90 and she still attends all her grandson's shows in Newcastle!) A chair was brought out for her in the front which she refused and went to the back of the arena. The Press people were shepherded to the front and all was ready for Sting!
Sting's voice was in fine form after the worries from the previous night but it seemed as good as we ever remember hearing it. The acoustic version of 'You Still Touch Me' is very good. All the band come to the front of the stage with Vinnie taking a tambourine and Kenny his 'seven dollar organ' as they performed this song.
Sting introduced '25 To Midnight' as ''What could have happened had he made a different decision 20 years ago when he left Newcastle and went to London to seek fame and fortune!'' An invitation to join Sting on stage produced four people and Sting engaged in some very relaxed banter - and the quartet made a pretty good job of singing with him. Having heard 'Roxanne' live quite a few times, it is nice to hear it reworked into a very lengthy, brassy version and Butch and Clark's moves were good to see. 'Lithium Sunset' was the great penultimate show-wrapper-upper that we all knew it would be and there was the added bonus of having Paul Carrack assist on vocals.
We think the band just gets better and we also think that this was Sting's best performance in his home town. Watching Vinnie flailing away, losing and replacing drumsticks, all without missing a beat, is quite impressive! It was also great to see Sting acknowledge the area of the arena where many of the Outlandos and DSA fans were, with a nod of recognition!
(c) Dave & Wendy for Sting.com
Solid as a rocker...
Sting returned home to his beloved Tyneside last night - to an ecstatic welcome from 7,000 eager fans.
The Arena was only about two thirds full, but the screams more than filled the venue as a mainly thirty-something crowd went crazy for the local star.
Dressed in black, and looking fitter than ever, the Wallsend born entertainer took us through a catalogue of hits dating from his early Police days up to the present.
His earlier material sent the fans into a frenzy, although the mellower more mature solo work was well received.
One minute tearing through '25 to Midnight' and 'Demolition Man', the next slowing the pace for 'Fields of Gold' and 'Brought To My Senses', the voice was solid as a rock. Sting's performance was faultless, and constant references to his roots proved a hit too.
Sting must have left the show a happy man, thanks to those who braved the weather to welcome him home.
(c) The Evening Chronicle by Gordon Barr
Long, superbly played show...
On the freezing steppes of the new arena's concourse, the pre-match entertainment consisted of watching a staple-gun operative assemble a publicity display of posters for Sting's last album, 'Mercury Falling' (well it was either that or going inside to see Paul Carrack, the support act). In among the various quotes from the critics, the words 'solid' and 'craftsmanship' reappeared with alarming frequency, as if Sting was a cabinet-maker rather than a pop star, and his album a small, perfectly made, satin-wood box that you brought home to put on your mantelpiece.
When the star appeared on stage he certainly had carpenter's biceps, and a neat Bruce Willis crop that thankfully replaced the racoon-on-head effect of the recent ill-judged Mohican. Flanked by a modest (for him) band of guitar, keyboards (Kenny Kirkland, the lone survivor from old), drums, sax and trombone, Sting both looked and sounded great, his underrated voice a daring rasp, the busy fingers of his bassplaying unerringly correct.
Though the show started brilliantly, the cumulative effect of the recent material is dispiriting. Happy to tap your feet for the first few numbers, after a while you begin to feel that the lovingly hand-crafted cabinet has nothing much in it. Or nothing, at least, compared to the Pandora's box wonder of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. At the time it seemed an unconsidered trifle; now it sounds sublime, one of the best pop songs of the last 20 years.
And 'Roxanne', when it came (the whole arena, of course, made to put on the red light), was wonderful, the structure balanced precariously on a single, repeated note. Though the band jams on in muso-mode, and even quotes from Miles Davis's 'In a Silent Way', you start to miss the pleasures of a good, simple tune.
True, there is pleasure to be had from an arena performance, but it's a cold beauty, like watching a motorway network at night. Once when Sting's giant shadow was flung onto the roof of the building, like a silhouette of Fantomas, it was suitably grand, but too often one was left counting girders or admiring the neat symmetry of the air-duct design.
Unlike Jimmy Nail, Sting is no professional Geordie, and he handled his homecoming with taste, bringing on some locals to singalong with the last single. He did us proud, too, with a long, superbly played show that truly tried to reach out across the basic architecture of the venue. But with such a great talent on stage, one was left wanting more than craftsmanship, however neat the tongue and groove joins. With his honourable jazz and reggae roots, Sting is perfectly placed, you feel, for a superior drum and bass makeover, a chance that should be seized soon, before the era of the muso is gone forever...
(c) The Independent by Phil Johnson
Rocking in the aisles as Sting comes home...
It may have been a freezing night but Tyneside pop superstar Sting melted the hearts of thousands of fans at the Newcastle Arena last night. Appropriately enough the Wallsend born singer kicked off his performance with 'The Hounds of Winter'. That broke the ice and then the temperature rose steadily as he belted out the hit after hit. With the first chords of 'Set Them Free' the crowd were clapping, cheering and rocking in the aisles. And with 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', the party had really started.
Clearly the former school teacher was enjoying himself as much as the audience. He was hyped-up and, if not nervous, extremely eager to please. But he needn't have worried. This was faultless performance with his seven piece band giving him superb backing. The tempo changed constantly with every song from the melodic 'Fields of Gold' to the bluesy rocker 'Twenty Five to Midnight' and the reggae charged Police classic 'Roxanne'.
Sadly the arena was only two thirds full which must have been disappointing for the man who has filled stadiums around the world. And although the the sound filled the 10,000 seat Arena, Sting's material and style are perhaps better suited to smaller venues. But tell that to little Keith who was one of a trio to join Sting on stage to sing the recent single 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying'. He had the night of his life joking with his idol and the crowd. Sting knew he was home when he heard the accent and joined in the banter. And a certain Gordon Sumner would have gone to bed happy last night thanks to his warm Geordie welcome home.
(c) The Newcastle Journal by Andy Smith