Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together
Mar
07
2014
Philadelphia, USWells Fargo Center
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Paul Simon and Sting @ Wells Fargo Center...

Last Friday, two behemoths of rock met for a magnificent concert: Paul Simon and Sting. For two and a half hours, they played side-by-side and did some songs solo before an enthusiastic crowd at Wells Fargo Center. Opening with "Brand New Day" and "Boy in the Bubble," Sting and Simon exchanged lyrics and guitar and bass licks. The arrangements, played by as many as 15 musicians, were both familiar and fresh, as with the lovely violin solo on "Driven to Tears."

I was enthralled throughout, from "Graceland" to "The Boxer" and "Message in a Bottle" to "Roxanne." People were dancing in the aisles, and with good reason - the meticulous recreations of classics stirred up many memories. In one of the night's greatest surprises, history was palpably thick as Sting took on Simon and Garfunkel's "America," giving it a backdrop of The Police's first visit to the States. It was a poignant tribute.

During the encore, Simon was backed by Sting on the timeless "Bridge over Troubled Water." it worked better than one could have imagined, melodies mixing to create a brilliant version of the song. And after delivering an adequate vision of "Every Breath You Take" as well as "Late in the Evening," Simon and Sting stripped down to just their voices and guitars for a glorious cover of The Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved." The audience responded with the rapturous applause the duo deserve for delivering not only a night's worth of great entertainment but two careers' worth of marvelous musicianship.

(c) Philadelphia City Paper by Chris Sikich

Simon and Sting share the stage...

Vintage boomer tours have gotten so numerous that acts are now apparently going out on the road in alphabetical tandems. That would explain the charmed Paul Simon/Sting commingling at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night.

In a brisk and deftly paced evening, the two singer/songwriters alternated solo sets with collaborative segments. But the most poignant moments came unexpectedly, when they interpreted each other's songs - Paul Simon singing "Fragile" to Sting's flamenco guitar accompaniment and Sting, after recalling his first show in Philadelphia with the Police at Grendel's Lair on South Street, serenading the crowd with Simon & Garfunkel's "America." (By serendipity, Art Garfunkel was also performing in Philadelphia on Friday night, at the Art Museum.)

It got rather crowded on the stage, as both men had their own contingents of musicians. There were multiple percussionists, multiple keyboard players, a horn section, and a number of polymorphs who seemed to play a different instrument on each song.

Simon's band looked like seasoned session men; Sting seemed to have recruited a yoga tumbling troupe. Both groups had wickedly versatile chops.

Initially, it seemed Sting would dominate the night, as he turned on the reggae-ghost thrusters for Police songs including "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Driven to Tears," and "Walking on the Moon."

Simon seemed trapped in the role of a younger sibling transparently trying to out-cool his big bro. (In human years, Simon, 72, is 10 years older.) But he made an energetic comeback, and his throwdown of "You Can Call Me Al" earned the evening's most sustained applause.

The two past masters provided an evening of beautiful songs. The mellow, middle-aged crowd responded with some hideous dancing. That vibe will probably change when the Foghat/Foreigner tour rolls into town.

(c) Philadelphia Inquirer by David Hiltbrand

10 best things about the Sting/Paul Simon concert...

I did not get any good pictures, I was too far away, but it didn't stop me from trying and dreaming. I included a few at the end of the blog. Check YouTube I bet people in the front row got great stuff.

1. Tickets $80 a piece for nosebleed section plus an additional $3 for FF(?) future fun? Parking was $20 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Total $106 if you add a beer each $12 x 2 more $24 = $130.

2. Both musicians entered the stage together and started out with one of my favorite Sting songs, "Brand New Day."

3. Paul Simon did the introductions, mentioning there would be two lead singers. There were actually two backup bands and one female backup singer also. Incoherent shout-outs were translated by Paul Simon and he said, he was glad to hear, I love you Paul and I love you Sting.

4. I can't recall how many songs were shared but then Paul Simon left the stage and Sting played some of his songs. I do remember Paul Simon mentioning he would be singing one of his favorite Sting songs, "Fragile." It is one of my favorites as well. He did a fantastic job with it.

5. Sting shared a story about his humble beginnings in the states, renting a station wagon and driving cross-country and he recalled his band (The Police) played at Grendel's Lair in Philadelphia. He mentioned late WMGK DJ Ed Sciaky, a name familiar to the crowd. He then went into the Paul Simon tune "America."

6. Paul Simon returned and if I have it right, they shared a song again or one of them did another ones song and then Sting gracefully left the stage and Paul Simon played his songs. As each artist progressed through the evening it was as if they were stirring the pot and building on each other's power. The exchanging of songs was just as impressive as when they did their own music.

7. There were no huge egos from these "big" stars,they were just having fun and that energy was spread to the audience. As we left the building, you could easily tell, all could have stayed for an additional three hours more but were well satisfied by the performance received on Friday night.

8. If you go to setlistfm.com you can view the songs that were played and a few of the links have actual footage of the concert and other locations uploaded. I should have taken notes because I can remember the experience but not retain the actual song details. Thank goodness someone did.

9. Each artist had their own band with them and they played together with "two drummers" on some of the songs and each member of the bands seemed to get a featured part. It was an incredible cast of musicians. I looked for all of their names and I am sure it is out there on the net, but I could not find it. I do remember them acknowledging the guys in the band that were local: Andy on sax, C. J. from Millville and another on Paul Simon's side from Trenton and later the drummer from Sting's side also from Pennsylvania. At one point a washboard was attached to one of the performer's chest as he and many of them demonstrated their multi-talented skills playing different instruments throughout the night.

10.The concert ended with duet of an Everly Brothers song "When Will I Be Loved." Sting's music has always been my "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." combine that with Paul Simon and "Every Little Thing They Did Was Magic."

(c) The Delaware County Daily Times by Mary Ann Fiebert

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