Sting: My Songs Tour

Amsterdam, Ne

Sting in AFAS Live...

Last year, Sting had to cancel his concert at the Amsterdam AFAS Live due to throat problems. He then promised to make amends soon. This evening at the end of November he returned and he clearly kept his word: not only was his voice in good condition, the entire evening was a celebration of recognition because of all the hits that came along.

What a luxury if, as an artist, you can kick off your performance with a song like Message In A Bottle. Artists of a lesser caliber would save such a song that everyone can sing along to the end, but the Englishman has plenty of hits. And indeed, three minutes after the start, hundreds are already singing about the 'Hundred billion castaways'. Sting performs two evenings in a row and the hall seems completely full (and then you can also go to Breda for a dance theater show based on his oeuvre, he has no complaints about interest). The attendees can be roughly divided into three groups: the old Police fans (present, I first heard him in a London record store in 1978), the more romantic fans of solo work and a large group that can listen to his entire catalogue. appreciate. There is plenty to enjoy for everyone tonight.

Sting's voice is of course better than last time, no sore throat now, he sings remarkably well for a 72-year-old man. He does use a trick that we often see with older artists: a choir sings along with him so that any gaps are silently filled. That's hardly necessary tonight. And otherwise the audience will join in: at Englishman In New York, Sting himself can sing the second voice. Such a 'sing-a-long' is not to everyone's taste - some performances by The Police at the time seemed like a Fischer-Chöre meeting - now it is limited to a single song (and many enjoy it). In If You Love Somebody Set Them Free it is striking that Sting can also (euphemism alert!) play bass very well: his connecting bass line, with small variations, shows that he is having fun. The old Fender itself is completely peeling away.

With The Hounds Of Winter, singer Melissa Musique gets an open curtain. The band members are certainly there: veteran Dominic Miller on guitar and Shane Sager on harmonica play a crucial role. The latter is allowed to warm up first and does so in the footsteps of Toots Thielemans, later in the concert he takes on the role of Stevie Wonder at the request of Sting. He completes his task with flying colors. Sting and Musique sing Heavy Cloud No Rain so passionately that the thought suddenly arises that the title could be ambiguous. 'A dirty mind is a joy forever'...

We then enter the more quiet part of the concert. Great, but part of the audience loses attention and starts talking, at least to the left of the stage. Invisible Sun gets a subdued version, just when we were ready for something a little more robust. Walking On The Moon brings everyone back to life. “Some may say, I'm wishing my days away,” the audience echoes. We then build up to the end: the beautiful King Of Pain, So Lonely of course and then Every Breath You Take, a modest hit in the Netherlands, a huge success in the UK and the US - which even led to this song becoming the number one would be the one that has been on the radio most often worldwide. The sinister content apparently escapes many, because it has also been on the list of most played songs at British weddings for years.

The encores summarize the evening nicely: the sturdy Roxanne, with plenty of room for harmony singing ('i-oh, i-oh, Roxannooh') and the beautifully tranquil Fragile. Something for everyone and it is almost inevitable that everyone accepted the journey home with satisfaction.

(c) Lust For Life by Peter Douma


Review of Sting in Afas Live: ample opportunity for repertoire from The Police...

Last year he had to cancel a concert prematurely at Afas Live due to voice problems. Now Sting returned with a greatest hits show with many songs from The Police.

He lasted an hour a year ago. Then he left the stage after a sincere apology. Lost voice. The best thing can happen of course. But you don't quite expect it from Sting (72), who is still a model of fitness even in his early seventies.

See him standing there again in Afas. The biceps barely fit into the short sleeves of his T-shirt. With his toned body, a man in his twenties would be fine. Really, he looks cooler than son Joe Sumner (47), who provides the support act and later sings a few songs with dad.

Time has been less merciful for Sting fans. At the first of the Briton's two Amsterdam concerts, you would almost feel like you were on an evening with broadcaster Max. There isn't much life in that audience, but Sting himself is clearly looking forward to it.

My Songs is the name of the tour that he started in 2019, but which was stopped several times for known reasons. It is a greatest hits show, in which The Police's repertoire is given ample opportunity; just under half of the setlist is filled with it.

Sting has every right to play those songs, of course. He wrote them, but at the time he was also instrumental in their performance as a singer and bassist. As a singer he obviously had to give up something (nothing bad by the way), but as a bassist he seems to have gotten even better over the years.

Sting lets his bass guitar, a beat-up Fender from the fifties, rumble wonderfully. There is still a lot of reggae in his playing and his timing is wonderfully relaxed. On the video screens, music nerds can follow exactly how he does it all: on the right, mainly with his thumb. Those screens also show that his T-shirt, like those Fender bass, has been around for a while. The holes have fallen.

Among the musicians who accompany Sting, Shane Sager on harmonica stands out. His task in Brand New Day is to replay the solo blown by Stevie Wonder on the record version. And yes, he can do that (for the uninitiated: Wonder is, especially after the death of Toots Thielemans in the summer of 2016, just about the best harmonica player on the planet).

In the last part of the show, Sting playfully blends So lonely by The Police into No woman no cry by Bob Marley (is that allowed by the woke police, a white man who sings with a Jamaican accent?). And in the encore there is, of course, the most famous song by The Police.

Although Sting sings again and again that Roxanne doesn't have to turn on the red light, the stage turns a sultry red.

(c) Het Parool by Peter van Brummelen