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