Peter Gabriel and Sting, longtime friends, collaborated July 21 in a concert full of fine musical moments, plus a little comedy and a very special guest.
The Peter Gabriel/Sting “Rock Paper Scissors” tour that came to KeyArena on July 21 was an unusual concert. The idea was to merge their bands and songs, and even have each artist sing a few of the other’s hits. In the end, it offered a lot of bang for the buck, and a two-song guest spot by a Seattle legend.
There was a clear camaraderie between the two men, both musically and personally, and that was a joy to watch. Gabriel said Sting got him doing yoga again, so they were now “the tantric twins,” referencing an oft-repeated Sting brag about sexual prowess.
Whether it’s yoga or comparing record sales, it would be hard for any artist to compete with Sting, who is a certified superstar, but it was nice to see him humbly retreat to be part of the 12-piece band when Gabriel sang. It was often hard to hear Sting’s bass, though, because with three drummers in the band the show was overamplified for an indoor arena (this tour is mostly hitting outside venues).
Many of Gabriel’s complex ballads, like “Red Rain” and “Don’t Give Up,” might have also had more emotional power if they’d been played in a sustained single set, without a Police hit coming next, which at times was a jarring contrast. For example, Gabriel’s fatalistic “In Your Eyes” is a dramatically different take on love than the populist “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.”
Other moments, though, soared. The musical origins of both men combined when “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight” (by Genesis) morphed into a rousing “Message in the Bottle” (Police). Sting’s playing and singing were spot-on all night, and he looked fantastically toned.
It would be hard for any singer to overshadow Sting, but a surprise guest star delivered the true highlights Thursday. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, who came on for “Driven to Tears” and “Red Rain,” was fantastic, bringing the ‘rock’ to “Rock Paper Scissors,” and making the special night more memorable.
(c) Seattle Times by Charles R. Cross