Riga, LV
Riga Arena
posted by stingcom
Brits Go Baltic...
Anybody who thought I was slowing down on the touring front this summer would have been in for a surprise? Last week's schedule has been jam packed, which included fitting in the opening concert for the Olympics in Hyde Park.; much musical excitement there. It's also the first time I've been accused of being a mega Duran Duran fan! (No but seriously, this is me just warming up, you should see me at a Sting concert, I replied to the group of people who wanted pictures of me, maybe I had created a new Olympic sport?) Such was our busy schedule; we flew out to Riga the following day, sleep playing an optional extra in proceedings, definitely a case of 'Need a cup of coffee, I'll feel better!' moment. (What no, Never Coming Home)

Sarah, Helen and I made up the British contingent of fan club members, but outside the Riga Arena the list of fan club members was particularly impressive, virtually every country in Europe was well represented. A fact not lost on Sting during 'Faith' as he surveys the front of the audience during the line 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' points to the whole of the front row. Sting was genuinely touched by how many of the usual suspects were in town. On the last night he made a special introduction before the start, to thank all the crew, band and fans who had travelled around the globe following the tour. You couldn't help but notice the enthusiasm and beaming faces from all the fan club members.

There was no support in Riga or Kaunas, just the front barrier to help prop us up before our Sting workout. Again Latvia was another country we have visited to be blessed with good weather, 34 degrees on concert day, and that it was very dry and humid inside the venue. If they had air conditioning on, we did not notice, but although the security looked mean and tough, they were some of most professional security of anywhere I've encountered. The press photographers would not agree, as it is the first time I've seen them penned in at either side of the stage, not allowed further than the side speaker stacks. How they got a view from there to take any decent pictures I don't know? The security did a wonderful job in providing much needed water throughout the concert (without prompting); maybe they were worried we were going to pass out? It's the first time I've drunk four pints of water during a gig, it literally saved my voice! (Yes water! Those of you with good memories may remember Sting at Cardiff Castle, rearrange today's countdown conundrum, Carter, beer, pint? You get the picture)This was a total contrast to Kaunas, where access to the arena, was a nerve racking wait, and suspense, a game of cat and mouse, psychologists would have diagnosed us all from suffering from symptoms of stress, worthy of the finest athletes under starters orders for the Olympics. I think we all succeeded in getting our spots? Kaunas was a bit of a sprint to the finish line, 'Roger I've never seen you move so fast!' was one comment I heard. It was a far cry from a normal Sunday evening down the Dog and Duck (or Fox and Hound?) in the UK.

We were on Dom's side on both nights, lucky Dom J I say this slightly tongue n cheek against me. It does not take long for my dancing to change a sometimes moody Dom, to breakout into a beaming smile, and do some crazy stances, and funny faces in my direction. I was told after the Riga concert, during a few numbers, Dom was trying to get my attention, and I was looking over the other way in Jo's direction. (He looked disappointed, we made up in Kaunas J) Where we were situated, gave us a good overview of all the band members, they is just so much to take in. Normally in this position, if there is a high stage, you get a restricted view of Vinnie. Tonight in Riga I was seeing things from Vinnie I had not seen earlier in the tour. On one song Sting did extend the length of the song, which Vinnie wasn't expecting. (I think it was Seven Days?) Sting joked to Vinnie 'I'll give you next week off!' We did have an extended version of 'Faith' with lots of improvisation towards the end of the song, amazing jamming, this was a particularly special rendition, and we were savouring every note, I could sense Lydia's enthusiasm and passion even though I could not see her, for the sea of hands waving up and down. It was no surprise front row centre was a hive of activity all night.

I will remember both these concerts for 'The End of Game' returning into the set, but for so many other reasons. When Sting introduces the song in Riga, he apologises for not knowing any Latvian, and asks what the Latvian for fox is. (Lapsa), he asks the crowd several times, Sting is none the wiser, the Latvian pronunciation confuses Sting, and thinking the audience is playing a joke on him says 'Lobster!' and replies words to the effect 'You're ****ing kidding me!' So we were waiting in anticipation in Kaunas to see if he was going to try the same question with the audience? So what is the Lithuanian for fox, I let the locals shout out 'Lapes', somewhere in the mix I shout out 'Lobster!' (Just the once), Sting is still asking the crowd going over to some familiar fans in the middle of the front row. He's still none the wiser; he returns to his microphone and says sounds like 'Lobster to me!' We were laughing for quite some time over that.

In Riga, my joviality extended throughout most of the song. It had absolutely nothing to do with the rendition, Sting glanced over to me a couple of times, the rest of the audience was static, and I was bopping around, and had a huge grin on my face. Sting was probably thinking what's up with him. It wasn't just me? Helen and Sarah were in on the joke. Not wanting to give the plot away, but anyone who has heard Helen's fox story will appreciate why I'm in fits of hysterics at this point. I know Sting would roar with laughter not only the content of the story, but the significance of it in relation to the song. Sting did wander over to me and said a few words during 'Love is Stronger than justice' or as it is called 'Pete's solo' on the set list. I'm not quite sure whether it was in reference to this, or an acknowledgement I had turned up in Riga? I even got my own nod of approval from Sting at one point, priceless. As usual Peter was rocking out big time during his solos, I couldn't understand why the audience were so reserved in Kaunas at this point, I was head banging!

The Arena in Kaunas was one of those locations that the line 'I looked out across the river today' would have fitted perfectly. The Arena is on a little island by a river, I saw a man fishing (although looking at the state of the water, I doubt there was anything alive in there to catch) when I was walking around the venue to the sounds of 'Walking on the Moon' being played loudly from the sound check. (Sadly this wasn't played in the concert) but it was great to hear the sound check whilst we were waiting outside the arena, 'Every Little Thing', MIAB with Jo singing a lot of the main vocals.

The Riga crowd were so much livelier than the Kaunas crowd, my customary turn around, hands aloft to the audience behind me; during the line 'Devil and the deep blue sea behind me' cut no ice with the audience. Everybody behind me was static and motionless, with expressions more akin to coping with bereavement than a brilliant version 'Wrapped around your finger'

It is at this point, I am told, one of the security started watching me like a hawk. It took me awhile to pick up on this, as I'm looking at the stage not what security is doing. When I did notice, this guy did not for second take his eyes off me, trying to out stare me, slightly unnerving, I thought. Nothing was said between us, he just stared vacantly at me, as if somehow his stare would break me? The more he stared, the more funny I thought it was; I've seen some expressionless security personnel before, this guy clearly won gold in the humour by-pass category. I think Dominic picked up on this; he would wander over to one part of the stage, only to see me jumping around and wander over to my side. In the process he went right up to the edge of the stage, several times his guitar just missing the top of this security guy's head. Maybe he thought I was some ring leader, the Lithuanian woman to my left was following my moves, jumps during the most amazing rocking version of MIAB. I was really quite emotional, it was clear i was having the time of my life, Sting could clearly see me rockin' out, the whole audience were singing their hearts out, maybe there is some life in this audience after all, sending out an S.O.S. superb..

Sting has been in such a playful mood on these last two concerts, this is highlighted brilliantly as he has had so much fun with 'Roxanne' like in Arcachon this was free flowing he was changing the tempo, the musical signatures with ease. He even managed to slip in a section of 'Sacred Love' in the middle of the song, just about the right amount of time to take my baseball cap off, and leave my hair in a mess! The audience sing back parts were great, I had the vocal range but my voice was struggling to keep up at this point.

How I found the energy for the finale, I don't know, 'Desert Rose' was epic, the audience were at their peak dancing and rocking out, 'King of Pain' as well, by the time of "Next to You", I had used up most of my energy, I was flagging. The Lithuanian woman to my left was jumping up frantically, I had difficulty keeping up. and knowing there is only one song to go before the tour ends. I can't fully describe how good these concerts were, incredible. Sting gave the thumbs up to me as he walked off stage, grinning away merrily into the Kaunas night.'

We were thinking if there was any significance for choosing Kaunas as the last location for the summer tour? I had some theories, but anybody who has had the pleasure of reading the local guide on things to do in Kaunas can't help but have a smile on their faces. I'm not sure whether it's our quirky English humour, but it is the first guide, I've read that chooses to feature a book linking photography of Lithuania in the 80's to postmodernism and boredom as the must read book of the year!

It is the only place I've been to that lists a Devil Museum as a major tourist attraction. (Symbolism is riff here, as you can imagine, not for the faint hearted either. Where you can peruse the evils and antics of intoxicated musicians, the tribulations of drink and smoking are all explored. Have you ever wondered why the devil in the form of a goat have tendencies to lift women's skirts up! It's all here, you're never alone, not here you're not. (Sounds like a Saturday night in some parts of England?) This leads me onto a refreshingly truthful quote about the local nightlife (near our hotel) from the Kaunas guide. 'Doctors and nurses party, Dj's who can't get a gig anywhere else. Located above a market selling sausages, we've been to better school discos'I really can't think why we didn't go there?'

The venue also did a roaring trade in Sting Umbrellas, as they had sold out by the end of the Kaunas concert. It is well known that people in Latvia never go anywhere without an umbrella, so I reckon they sold out in Riga, it was no surprise we all chanted 'No Rain!'

We absolutely loved our time in Riga and Kaunas we laughed so much, thank you Helen and Sarah again, for making the last three concerts so memorable (we were Sting GB) we had such an awesome time, looking forward to the next one.

(c) Roger Puplett for
posted by flexible
This band keeps getting and better!
The band put on an absolutely awesome show at Riga - Sting's voice was perfect, the whole band was very energetic and the arrangements were really fresh. A great mix of hits and "deep cuts", too. "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" (David Sancious! Peter Tickell!) and "Next To You" with the new extended outro were absolute standouts. Please tour again soon, this didn't feel like a washed-up greatest hits set or anything like that AT ALL!
posted by picha
It was the best way how to celebrate my birthday that was exactly on 29th July - a fabulous concert with the opportunity to delve into the fascinating music and drift ... Thank you so much!
posted by laurisvalters
Yes, I'm already waiting to hear Sting in Riga ;)
posted by laurisvalters
Yes, I'm already waiting to hear Sting in Riga ;) This will be my fourth time to see him live ! First was in Jurmala, Nemo park (Latvia) 2001 , than in 2006 arena Riga (by the way, the same date as in this year > 29 july ! ) , and third time a saw him with Simphonicities tour in Tallin 2010 !
posted by laurisvalters
Yes, I'm already waiting Sting in Riga ;) This will be fourth time when I'll see his concert live ! First was in 01' , than in 06' (by the way , he was in arena Riga in 29 july :) ) and in 10' I was in Tallin !
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