Sting Still Has It...
Nashville hasn’t seen Sting on stage since 1982. That’s the last time that Sting, then with the Police, played the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. During the opening song, he admitted that he really doesn’t even remember that visit. He could recall vividly, however, his 1979 show at Exit/In.
Last night’s concert, part of Sting’s “57th and 9th Tour,” started in an atypical manner, with the headliner coming out before the opener. Accompanied only with an acoustic guitar, Sting casually walked up to the microphone to greet the crowd. It probably took most folks a few seconds to even realize what was going on. He opened the night with “Going South on the Great North Road,” and then introduced his son – singer/songwriter Joe Sumner.
With a look, demeanor, and even sound reminiscent of his father, Sumner exhibited a great deal of grace on stage. He played a few original pieces for the crowd and was joined mid-set by Jerry Fuentes of The Last Bandoleros, who laid down a solid slide guitar backing to accompany Sumner. The group certainly brought a country vibe to Nashville. They also threw in tinges of Cajun and Mexican flavor with the addition of accordion. Sting and Joe both reappeared for the set’s final song before taking a fifteen minute intermission for the main act.
As soon as Sting came back on stage (for the third time now, if you’re keeping count) with his full band it was show time. Sting's voice and playing were both silky smooth, untouched by the marks of time. In a seemingly effortless manner he commandeered the stage and put on a fantastic show for the audience. The band included long-time Sting guitarist Dominic Miller, Josh Freese on drums, and Rufus Miller on guitar. The musicians were introduced early into the set and performed flawlessly throughout the night. Interestingly enough the stage was shared by not one, but two father-son sets. While Joe stayed in the backstage providing rhythm and backing vocals for his dad, Dominic Miller and his son Rufus took care of the guitar work for the band.
Sting's set was full of all the hits one might expect from someone of his rich musical background. The Police classics - "Message in a Bottle," "Walking on the Moon," and "Roxanne" - were all crowd pleasers. As were his solo-career hits such as "Fields of Gold" and "Englishman in New York."
As most artists are apt to do, Sting took a moment out of his Nashville set to speak about the influence country music had on his career. He specifically highlighted the story telling aspect the genre had on his development. Unknown to many, Sting actually has written a few country music tunes himself. One of those – "I Hung My Head" – was "authenticated," as Sting so eloquently put it, with a cover by none other than Johnny Cash.
After nearly two hours of a top-rate performance Sting returned to the stage, just as he first emerged early that night – along with an acoustic guitar. He graciously thanked the audience for loyal support and told the crowd the story behind “The Empty Chair.” It may have taken Nashville thirty-five years to get Sting back in town for a show, but judging from Tuesday’s performance it was well worth the wait. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another thirty-five for a return visit.
(c) The Chattanoogan.com by Patrick O'Hagan
Sting shows Nashville audience why he's still a standout...
Rock great Sting made an overdue return to Music City on Tuesday, as his U.S. tour stopped at Municipal Auditorium - a venue he played 35 years ago with The Police. But even though he's been at it for decades, the British-born rocker goes above and beyond in his live show. Here's why.
He's his own opening act.
As Sting told The Tennessean earlier this month, there have been points in his stadium-filling career where he felt "kind of God-like."
But these days, he's keeping his ego in check with a move few Rock and Roll Hall of Famers would dare attempt. He takes the stage first, before his opening acts - as oblivious audience members are still buying drinks and finding their seats - and plays one acoustic song to set the tone.
That song is "Heading South On the Great North Road," in which Sting remembers leaving his hometown to chase his dreams in London.
"I had three things," he told the audience before he began. "I had a 5 pound note in my pocket. I had a bag of songs and one telephone number. It happened to be (Police drummer) Stewart Copeland's telephone number. Pretty important. And the rest is history."
After the tune, he ceded the stage to his son, Joe Sumner, and joined fellow openers Los Bandoleros to provide background vocals and tambourine.
His (hazy) Nashville past.
Speaking of "history," Sting made sure to acknowledge his own past with Music City - even if it eludes him.
"I played in this building before, apparently, in 1982, but I have no memory of it," he said with a laugh. "I have no idea what I was smoking, but it certainly wasn't legal. But I do remember playing in 1979 at the Exit/In. Vividly! I remember it vividly."
"And you weren't there," he added, pointing to an audience member up front. "Because you were too young!"
Standing room only.
It wasn't hard to spot a young face or two up front, because Sting, unlike most rock stars his age, isn't selling pricey front row seats. Nearly the entire venue floor was general admission, standing room only, not unlike his first Nashville gig in 1979. Under the stage lights, Sting - who's famously in fantastic shape - looks pretty much like the same guy who took the stage back then. He sounds like him, too.
That wasn't just heard in the old favorites, like set opener "Synchronicity II," but in brand new tunes from "57th and 9th," his first rock album in more than a decade.
His dexterous backing band was perfectly suited for that style, but they were also able to handle Sting's insatiable taste for sounds from around the globe.
Songs and surprises.
Sting pulled out a few tunes just for Nashville on Tuesday, including "I Hung My Head." It was one of several country-inspired tunes he's written over the years and he told the audience he felt vindicated when Johnny Cash covered it on the final album released in his lifetime. That led into another rarity on this tour: his 1993 hit "Fields of Gold."
He mixed deeper Police cuts in with several new tunes from "57th" in the first hour of the set. The audience stayed with him at every turn, but a massive roar of elation came with the first chords of "Message in a Bottle." The celebration continued with "So Lonely" and reached its peak with "Roxanne," and each featured lively games of call and response between Sting and his fans.
"I wrote that song probably 40 years ago in my apartment in London," he said of "Bottle."
"The audience was probably just the cat, and not particularly interested. But now I can go to Nashville, and everybody knows those words. And it means something. I do not take that for granted."
(c) The Tennessean by Dave Paulson