The zing of Sting...
Siti Nurbaiyah Nadzmi gets into the swing of things at Sting's concert in Singapore and a long-lost interest is revived.
I had lost interest in Sting after The Police disbanded in 1986. I remembered him as someone who sang 'Every Breath You Take' and the guy who did a duet with Cheb Mami on 'Desert Rose'.
Still I braved the horrible traffic, bad weather and long queue for a Press ticket for Sting's show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium recently. It was packed with 10,000 people.
As soon as Sting came on stage, he commanded immediate reaction. He began with 'Send Your Love', an upbeat number from the 'Sacred Love' album and went on to one of his '80s classics, 'Message in A Bottle'. The crowd went wild. The connection was instantaneous and electric. One was swept up by the energy pulsating from the seven-piece band on stage, and Sting flinging off his jacket and slinging the guitar over his shoulder. It made the crowd get up to dance.
This was 'Message in a Bottle' uncorked, full-bodied and smooth, 20 years later. Forget what you heard in the days of The Police in their iron-burnt shirts, wind-blown hair and ankle length denims.
The music was a feast. Members of the band, handpicked by Sting, were Argentinian guitarist Dominic Miller, jazz pianist Jason Rebello, keyboardist Kipper, Moroccan percussionist Rhani Krija, American drummer Keith Carlock, and backed by two vocalists, Joy Rose ad Donna Gardier.
Every song performed was given a different arrangement, not quite like what we have heard over the radio or CDs. It was alive, like a breath of fresh air, and at a certain point heady.
Sting apologised for his decade-long absence in this region, but he made it up with brilliant musical arrangement and impeccable, almost poetic performance. The concert was held barely a month after the tsunami disaster and a day before Singapore held a national memorial service for the victims.
Sting made no mention of the sadness that pervaded the region but his songs said it all. In 'Fragile':
On and on the rain will fall / Like tears from a star, like tears from a star / On and on the rain will say / How fragile we are, how fragile we are
One could not help but relate this song to the suffering of the tsunami victims. He also sang 'Dead Man's Rope', 'Hounds of Winter' and 'Fields of Gold', songs of love lost and remembered.
Sting did a duet with Joy Rose on for 'Whenever I Say Your Name'. The latter's performance was mesmerising. The song originally featured Mary J. Blige on the 'Sacred Love' album, but Joy Rose's rendition of it easily rivalled the smoky vocals of Blige.
The selection of songs was wise - a fusion of pop with world music which included songs from his previous albums like 'Brand New Day', 'Englishman in New York', 'Shape of My Heart'. He also sang classics like 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Roxanne'. The lights went out after he sang 'Roxanne'.
He did three encores of 'Desert Rose', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith' and the expected 'Every Breath You Take'. I was not hopeful about Sting's solo of 'Desert Rose', The song would inevitably fall flat without Cheb Mami. But Rhani Krija rescued it with his intricate percussion play.
One song that made this concert so unforgettable was 'Every Breath You Take', mainly because of the refreshing new arrangement given by Sting and the musicians. The haunting number was given a new lease of life, with the rich percussion almost Arabic with heavy bass and a jazzy feel. Let's hope he brings all this to Kuala Lumpur on Feb 1.
Again the crowd called out for more. The last song was from the 'Brand New Day' album, 'Thousand Nights', an obscure but exotic number about an undying love. On the whole, the concert gave a complete package of good music, lyrical beauty of the songs and an energetic performance. One could not ask for more.
(c) New Straits Times by Siti Nurbaiyah Nadzmi
Stinger at his best...
The crowd that caught Sting in concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Monday night was a far cry from the one that came out to catch the Eagles, two months ago.
Then, at the same venue, the country rock superstars, led by Glen Frey, Don Henley and Joe Walsh, were hard put to get the 10,000 fans excited.
Many would remember that one of the Eagles front-liners even ran up into the crowd to get them to clap along but all he got was a handful of handshakes.
That, however, was hardly surprising considering that the front-line trio sounded rather jaded, and only managed to stir things up with their rocking 'Life In The Fast Lane', three-quarters into the show.
But on Monday, the Stinger, backed by a superb band and back-up vocalists, had a capacity crowd on its feet throughout the show.
It didn't matter what the songs were.
Everyone just lapped it up, and later brought the band out for a 15-minute encore.
Considering that he's been around for nearly three decades, it would have been too much to expect him to cover every hit, and the casualties (unless I missed them in all that bliss) included 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', 'Fragile' and even 'Fields Of Gold'.
But the rest of the busters were there and the Singapore set list included hits from both his Police and solo years - 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take', 'Englishman In New York', 'Whenever I Say Your Name', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and of course, 'Sacred Love', every one of which brought his fans to their feet.
For musicians, it was delightful to see a singer-bassist leading the big band.
Like one Singaporean artiste remarked: ''It's tough enough doubling on bass and vocal duties, but to lead a big band like that through a non- stop two-hour concert is something else.'' Throughout his showcase, Sting a.k.a Gordon Sumner, former leader of The Police, strutted confidently, first on bass, then electric rhythm and lead guitars and even an acoustic requinto, covering the entire stage, keeping the band tight.
The mood at the show on Monday was reminiscent of the night, a couple of years ago, when Mick Jagger and his Rolling Stones took the same stadium by storm.
This time, however, it was Sting, a solo artiste, who achieved the same thing and certainly left his audience wanting more.
He may not have sung 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', but he sure had it going.
If that's any measure of the man, his fans in KL are in for one heck of a party when the Sting entourage graces the Bukit Jalil Indoor Stadium come Feb 1.
(c) The Malay Mail by Errol De Cruz