Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together

Detroit, MI, US
Palace of Auburn Hills
Sting and Simon Together perform transcendent music...

With Sting and Simon's joint On Stage Together tour at its halfway point, Paul Simon can see some discernible benefits to the collaboration.

"We're becoming more like each other," he told the Wednesday night, Feb. 26, crowd at The Palace. "I personally feel I'll be more Adonislike (and will) be able to have sex for days at a time" - a reference to Sting's joking reputation for lengthy sessions of tantric amoré.

Of course, Simon added, "I'm not sure I'm looking forward to that."

Whether or not the two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers wind up taking on each other's characteristics, Wednesday's two-hour and 40-minute show established that they share enough musical common ground to make an exceptional show, a case of one-plus-one equaling three - in quality if not quantity, given the surprisingly light turnout at The Palace. Representing four formidable song catalogs - each their own, Sting's with the Police and Simon's with Art Garfunkel - they covered a great deal of ground through the 32 songs, spanning nearly five decades of sophisticated pop hitmaking between them.

And, best of all, sharing in each other's music.

With the 14 members of their two bands freely melding and meshing together throughout the night to cover nearly any nuance the tunes required, Simon and Sting joined forces for 10 songs, kicking things off with Sting's buoyant "Brand New Day," Simon's "Boy in the Bubble" and Sting's "Fields of Gold." Later on, Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion," Sting's "Fragile" and Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" were used as segue pieces to transition into each of their separate sets. Finally, the encores featured S&G's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - which Sting found a way to sing without trying to ape Garfunkel's iconic performance - the Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Simon's "Late in the Evening."

Simon and Sting's time NOT on stage together hardly paled, however, as they mixed a few deep catalog favorites with proven hits. Sting dug into the Police canon for "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Driven to Tears," "Walking on the Moon," "Message in a Bottle" and "Roxanne," while solo career tracks including "I Hung My Head" and "Hounds of Winter" were as impactful as better-known works such as "They Dance Alone" and "Desert Rose." And his version of S&G's "America" was a moving tribute to his tourmate.

Simon, meanwhile, explored the full breadth of his solo career, letting the band members loose on extended versions of "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" and "That Was Your Mother," while "Hearts and Bones" flowed into Junior Parker's "Mystery Train" and Chet Atkins' instrumental "Wheels." "Dazzling Blue" was a less readily familiar highlight, while "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," "Graceland," "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "You Can Call Me Al" were reliable fail-safes by any measure.

The duo finished the night, appropriately, as a duet, singing the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved" into the same microphone. They certainly didn't look the same, Adonislike or otherwise, but they were clearly cut from the same musical cloth, a shared sensibility that was capably, and cleverly, celebrated throughout Wednesday's show.

(c) The Morning Sun by Gary Graff

Paul Simon and Sting make musical parts mesh at Palace...

Heading into the Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday night, you couldn't be quite sure what you were in for. Sharing the marquee were two musical titans - Paul Simon and Sting - and somehow they had to make this mix-and-match enterprise work.

They certainly figured it out: This dual-headlining date was cohesive and strangely logical, blending more than a dozen musicians and 30 decade-spanning songs into a 2-hour, 40-minute show that didn't feel nearly that long.

With the lanky Sting aside the diminutive Simon, they performed together to open and close the show, linking back up to collaborate in transitions between their individual sets - two from each.

On paper, it was a concept that had risked coming off as gimmickry, like some extended version of those clunky collaborations that pock the Grammy Awards. But onstage, it worked. Wednesday was a pleasant, breezy affair, where musical balance and mutual respect reigned over any toe-stepping or one-upping. The Simon-Sting chemistry may not be deeply compelling, but never did it feel forced.

At 72 and 62, respectively, Simon and Sting may seem to share little beyond extensive musical catalogs that still get ample airing on classic-rock and adult-pop radio. But there is a common creative impulse, and it showed itself at the Palace: an affinity for pushing their pop and rock into more sophisticated, exotic places, with rhythms, sounds and arrangements that traverse the globe.

An initially lethargic work-night crowd got lured into the show as it went on, spending most of the final hour up out of seats that ranged as high as $253. (Show officials didn't disclose attendance, which appeared about 8,000.)

Mingling their two bands in various combinations - up to 14 players onstage simultaneously, including three drummers - Simon and Sting used the occasion to play around with their material. Simon acknowledged early on that the show's musical approach was continuously evolving, and Wednesday was the kind of night when the jazzy reggae lilt of the Police's "Walking on the Moon" could get applied to Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" a song later.

Sting's segments provided many of the night's more propulsive moments, largely through his dips into the Police repertoire, with drummer Vince Colauita driving songs like "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and "Message in a Bottle." Guitarist Dominic Miller and fiddler Peter Tickell dropped blazing solos into the Police chestnut "Driven to Tears."

Simon offered a more quietly powerful energy, with warm, elegant takes on songs like "Graceland" and "Hearts and Bones." The septuagenarian still has it: His 2011 album cut "Dazzling Blue" was positively gorgeous, holding its own amid classics like "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and "Still Crazy After All These Years."

Sting nodded to that legacy at mid-show, hailing Simon as template for "literate and literary songwriting" and presenting an affectionate rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's "America." He also recounted some of his own Detroit history, including his Palace-opening show in August 1988 and early Police dates at Bookie's and Center Stage (where he recalled Ted Nugent walking into the dressing room with "a loaded Colt 45").

Their joint performances mostly clicked, with Simon and Sting swapping lyrics and harmonizing on material by both. A raggedy start (Sting's "Brand New Day," Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble") was smoothed out by the time they got to Sting's "Fields of Gold," and later collaborations on "Fragile" and "The Boxer" were solid. The encore offered one of the nicest of them all: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," with Sting's tenor acquitting itself handsomely on Simon's biggest-ever hit.

(c) Detroit Free Press by Brian McCollum

Music icons Sting, Simon share stage, and songs, at The Palace...

No one was really expecting, or asking for, Paul Simon and Sting to team up and tour together. But the duo put their heads together and came up with an engaging evening of music at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday.

Despite a turnout of about 7,500 people, judging by an eyeball estimate, the two stars put on a solid show that, over the course of 31 songs and two hours and 40 minutes, covered both of their musical catalogs.

They performed together and separate, and traded good-natured ribs at the onset of the show: After Simon said he thinks the tour will result in him being more "Adonis-like," Sting zinged his partner, telling him, "I think I'll stay the same, thank you." Enough with Jimmy Fallon, give these two "The Tonight Show!"

They opened the show as a duo, trading verses on Sting's "Brand New Day," and rolling into Simon's "Boy in the Bubble" and Sting's "Fields of Gold." Sting then did a solo set of a few songs; Simon came out and joined him, then performed his own set, and so on. The show was very democratic, with each getting an equal amount of stage time, but they were far from spotlight hogs, giving the members of their 14-piece mega-band plenty of time to shine both collectively and individually.

Backup singer Jo Lawry let loose a haunting howl during her solo on "The Hounds of Winter," and Sting's violinist Peter Tickell turned in a rousing solo during "Driven to Tears."

Sting, 62, and Simon, 72, treated the show like an evening of refined musicality, and the music took center stage in front of the sparse production. The backdrop was a simple black curtain, and the lighting was elegant and understated, with a video screen on either side of the stage giving fans a better view of the action. Simon's late show "Hearts and Bones" was a standout, with his drummer turning out a graceful guitar solo as the song eased into its finale.

Simon closed out his final set with the "Graceland" favorites "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" and "You Can Call Me Al," and Sting joined him - and outshined him - during an encore performance of "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Together, the pair sang the Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Simon's "Late in the Evening." They threw in a curveball for the closer, going head-to-head on a cover of the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved." It was a simple close that paid homage to the recently deceased Phil Everly and put the focus squarely on the two stars' voices.

And it capped an evening that showed when two stars the caliber of Simon and Sting get together, no matter what the background or the reason, it's going to wind up being pretty special.

(c) The Detroit News by Adam Graham
posted by slgittleman
So Enjoyed Detroit Show
I so enjoyed the show. It took some getting used to listening to the artists sharing lines from each other's songs, but it added a new dimension to the music. I was so impressed with the depth of talent in your bands. My son plays guitar: accoustic and jazz improvisational guitar. And the clarinet. I won't let him quit the clarinet. Your concert affirmed my reasoning on why he needs to play more than one instrument. Wrote more about the wonderful evening on my blog here. Cheers!
posted by mariahwin32
I attended the show last night and I feel very blessed to be able to witness in person such beautiful and passionate music be preformed by two exceptionally amazing artist. Thank you to Sting, Paul Simon and band for a concert I'll always remember.
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