Sting at Les Nuits 2011 Festival, Lyon, France (King of Lyon)...
July is the usual time most British folk escape the rain of our homeland for the more summery climates of our European neighbours.
Well, since I joined this leg of the tour in Mannheim the rain has been following me! Normally this isn't a problem; tonight I'm in a beautiful Roman Amphitheatre in Lyon, open to the elements.
Sting had a quizzical expression and meaning on his face singing out "it's a big enough umbrella..." lyric, on 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' tonight's opener (and not 'Faith' as earlier in the tour) that I wondered whether he had been caught in the torrential downpour we had experienced walking to the venue?
This was probably the latest start of any of the concerts on the Symphonicity tour, 9:30pm; we arrived at the venue and were surprised how many people were already there at 7:30pm.
So it was even more exceptional that we managed to find a spot right at the front barrier and in front of Jo Lawry :)
She noticed me straight away during the gig, my sister tapped me on the shoulder, and “you've been spotted!" My reputation precedes me, nah I was spotted in Mannheim and Munich as well, having the honour of front row thanks to the Fan Club allocation of tickets. Even if a Ticketmaster official tried to move me in Mannheim, stating a ticketing issue, thank goodness for PDFs. Once I mentioned to the official ''So you are going to supply me with a Press pass then?'', she soon disappeared.
This leg of the tour misses out on 'Mad About You', 'A Thousand Years' and 'My Ain’ True Love' but the rest of the set list remains the same with a few songs changing order.
At both German concerts the majority of fans didn't get a workout until 'King of Pain'. That's one of the reason I like festivals - I can stand all the time.
I really wanted to do a full dance routine during 'This Cowboy Song', but I found it's impossible to line dance when you're at the barrier! But I definitely had the impression I was leading the way in the singing, cheering and the "yee hahs!"
The more I was clapping the more Jo Lawry was smiling at me with approval, it happened several times throughout the concert. Whenever Sting wanted audience participation I got the feeling he knew the loudest cheers and singing were coming from my direction. Just hope my voice lasts out till Nimes, I might need some vocal rescue.
Most of the introductions between songs have disappeared, but Sting did introduce 'Why Should I Cry For You' in French "Pour mon papa", I could feel myself welling up before he had sung a note. This is my favourite song on this tour along with 'The End of the Game', a song about "renards" had Sting said the right words, the audience was silent, you could hear me say "foxes" both songs are stunning with the addition of the orchestral arrangements.
'Desert Rose' was so atmospheric, even I had to laugh with the irony of the lyric "I dream of rain..." I think it had started raining again by this time, not that I noticed as I was having so much fun and joy, the rain was a minor detail.
Sting was effortlessly whipping the crowd into a frenzy, and then Jo Lawry did this most amazing dance, Arabic style, looking straight at me, even my sister went "wow, she can dance!"
I probably had my mouth wide open in awe, then she had a dance with Dominic, and you could tell everybody was having such a fabulous time.
I think it was during 'She's Too Good For Me', my memory is a bit hazy, not through drink, but I'm not hundred percent sure whether it was this song? I was dancing around, and at the end of the song, almost out of nowhere Jo Lawry looks straight at me and does this huge leap in the air, the way I do at the peak of 'Next To You' (was it a homage to me, an older fan and a beautiful young singer... tragic?) what was more amazing she was wearing huge heels! At this point I'm wondering if there is a competition between Jo Lawry and Sarah Hicks on who can wear the highest heels.
Sting, ever the gentleman, likes to help Sarah Hicks down from her Conductor's platform. The crowd was in a frenzy, what happened next was almost akin to the Royal Albert Hall on Sting's birthday last year.
The audience in the seated section of the Amphitheatre were picking up the plastic seating mats and throwing them in the air (Frisbee style) in a manner of the ballon throwing at the RAH last year. Some managed to reach the stage, giving some of the technical crew palpitations, I don't think the mats took out any microphones, but some did hit members of the orchestra!
Any notion that I had been up since 4:30am was not showing in my body, by the time of the final song 'Message in a Bottle' I still had enough energy to sing with as much vigour as on the first song.
The crowd loved every moment, Sting was playing it slightly faster than in Munich the previous evening, maybe because it was pouring with rain again!
In Munich during one part of the audience refrain, I sang back a loud 'Message in a Bottle' line, the strange funny look on Sting's face was a picture, and he wasn't quite expecting it, like that? It's been another tremendous set of concerts so far and I have meet up with new fans as well as the long serving faithful.
It always amuses me the stories from other fans, about friends/partners etc who don't share our passion for Sting concerts. They get left at home (in Angela's case) or in the hotel (in my brother in law's case) why some people don't get it is an enigma to me or perhaps I am getting more eccentric. My usual question after the concert is saying to someone "are you going to the concert tomorrow?" I always hope for an answer of "yes". Next stop Nimes.
(c) Roger Puplett for Sting.com
Sting, the magician of Fourvière(1)...
The fans had been expecting him since 2006, when he last performed in the antic theatre. For his big return to Fourvière (Lyon, France) last Thursday for his big 'Symphonicity' concert, the English singer performed during over 2 hours a wonderfully reorchestrated show of his hits from his solo career as well as from the Police era in front of won over crowd of 4,500 people.
All kept their fingers crossed. On the Facebook page of the Nuits de Fourvière(2), messages poured in all day: would the concert take place despite the forecasted rain? It had already played a bad joke on the singer in 2006, pouring continuously during the whole show.
At 7 P.M., one last thundering shower still holds the suspense. At 9:25 P.M., when the National Orchestra of Slovenia comes on stage, the doubts are removed as are the clouds. The conductress Sarah Hicks switched the tail coat for legging pants and a scaled dress. She takes her place on the stand. Dominic Miller and Rhani Krija, respectively guitarist and percussionist, Jo Lawry, brilliant chorus singer, and Ira Coleman, the calm double bass player, already took their spots on the stage.
Sting arrives from the left side. Thundering applauses. The first notes of "If I Ever Loose My Faith In You" come from the symphonic orchestra. On the microphone, the Englishman lays his voice. Casually leaning on the microphone holder, he masters the words. The song loses nothing of its strength though. It even reinforces thanks to the symphonic orchestra, going from energetic to grandiose. The pace is given for the two hours of the concert, interrupted by a 15 minutes entr’acte.
Then Sting goes on: "Englishman in New York", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". Each song is the occasion for the singer to give more and more space to his orchestra: violin solo, double bass solo, and trumpet solo. Each instrument sent to the front of the stage is accompanied by the master, who mimics in rhythm every violin bow stroke. His head follows the controlled offbeat tempo of the drummer. Sting lives is music.
A classical guitar comes in his hands and the Englishman gives an acoustic version of "Roxanne". Fourvière makes silence, admiring. The rather racy lyrics of the song seem to cradle the praying hill(3). On stage, the spotlights turned to "red lights". Magical. Only the rougher variation of the voice in the second verse remind of the original naughtier nature of the song
The orchestra then gives a masterly introduction, brass and strings in unison. The gong gives an organic depth to the overture. Behind his microphone, Sting starts singing "Russians". The monumentality of Fourvière echoes in the orchestration, worthy of the site. "Next to you" closes the first part. It is 10:30 P.M., the fans are craving for the second half of the show. No one leaves its seat, sometimes harshly acquired. In the pit, which was left in its standing configuration for the occasion, the quality of the show and of the orchestra are praised, so is the vocal purity of the singer. That Thursday night he never fails. The voice is mastered, and some variations reveal an incredible power.
The second part focuses Sting's solo songs. It starts with "Shape of my Heart". "All Would Envy", "End Of The Game" and "King of Pain" give way to one of the most famous song of the singer: "Fields of Gold". The orchestration is faithful to the album, with an extra monumentality. The ballad transports and transcends. Sting goes on in the same path with "Fragile" before launching "Every Breath You Take". In the crowd couples hug, kiss. The 4,500 lucky ones accompany the singer on the verses and the refrains. First departure of the singer, who takes away the conductress backstage. In the orchestra all remain seated. The audience is not fooled and knows it's only a mock ending.
First curtain call with the mesmerizing "Desert Rose", originally sung in duet with Cheb Mami. The oriental voice variations are entrancing, and the voluntarily repetitive musicality of the song prompts to reverie. Sting leaves once more. The orchestra still does not move. The singer comes back with "She's Too Good For Me". He then ends the show for good with his acoustic guitar on "Message In A Bottle". The audience takes on the world hit by the Police. In the crowd, the traditional "cushions shower"(4) turns to a downpour. The rain, the mischievous real one, comes with a few drops on the last song. Like a merci from the sky. 2006 and its rain storm now belongs to the past. Sting put a magical spell on Fourvière, who will remember for a long time.
(c) Lyonmag.com (Translation by Olivier DUC)
(1) the hill where is located the 2000 years old Roman theatre in which the concert takes place.
(2) the summer festival which takes place each year in the Roman theatre of Fourvière.
(3) the hill of Fourvière has many convents and churches, which is why it is nicknamed the "praying hill", by opposition to the "working hill" of La Croix-Rousse where manual silk labourers used to inhabit.
(4) before the concerts the audience is always given inflated plastics cushions to help enduring the Roman cold stone seats; traditionally, when a concert is appreciated, all the cushions are thrown in the air at the end of the show.
Sting gave last night in Fourvière a symphonic version of his songs...
From Police's last album ('Synchronicity') to the current tour by Sting ('Symphonicity') there is a big difference. Songs written for a trio, essantial and pure, which are now played by a symphonic orchestra. For two hours, Sting and his associates have shown that the exercise was controlled and managed in a Fourvière Theatre at the limit of saturation. A piano line, staccato strings, and voice of Sting, standing behind his microphone, starts the song that tells police that 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. For 'Englishman in New York', the brass come in this whirlwind musical. A clarinet accomanying a song that makes you shudder, the public, while the strings set the pace in staccato. ''It's really beautiful, we discover new harmonies in the songs,'' says one fan, while the opening bars of 'Roxanne' announce an acoustic version and soothed, tinged with melancholy. The first set ends with an unbridled version of 'Next To You' and a flood of strings that illuminate the rock as urgent as basic. A break... and 'Shape of My Heart' launches the second part focused on the songs solo Sting, even if it includes a version of 'King of Pain' and ends with a highly acclaimed song 'Every Breath You Take'. A very original version, almost as refined than in trio, and taken to heart by all the Roman Theatre ...
(c) Le Progrès de Lyon (very kindly translated by Sebastien)