Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together

Hershey, PA, US
Giant Center
Sting and Paul Simon a joyful union at Giant Center in Hershey...

It is an inspired pairing.

Who would have known that superstar musicians Sting and Paul Simon  - men of different eras and styles - would blend so beautifully?
But Sunday  at the Giant Center in Hershey and in tour stops all over the country, it was Sting, not the legendary Art Garfunkel, harmonizing sweetly with Simon on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "The Boxer."

The concert featured Sting singing his own songs and Simon singing his own songs. It featured Sting singing Simon's songs, Simon singing Sting's songs and the two singing each other's songs together. Back and forth, they went. It looked like Sting and Simon loved the interplay, and the crowd did too.

Their voices were strong - Sting especially belted out lines and held notes like his young self. Simon's voice doesn't have the power of his youth, but he makes up for it by creating interesting tempo and rhythms changes in his songs and by his theatrical presence.

The sound was big - the bands of both men filled the stage - at times 14 players, including horn players on Sting's side and a percussionist with African instruments on Simon's side. Some players came and went depending on who was center stage.

And this was a big show - 2 hours and 45 minutes and 32 songs.

Sting pulled out all the favorites from his Police days in his featured sections - "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Driven to Tears," "Message in a Bottle," "Roxanne" and more. He also chose a mix from his solo career, including "Englishman in New York" and "The Hounds of Winter,"  and "I Hung My Head," a country song he said was recorded by Johnny Cash.

Simon's individual set list focused on his long solo career and also included all the favorites - "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, "Graceland," "Still Crazy After All These Years, "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," "You Can Call Me Al."

However, they opened the concert together, setting the joyful tone by trading lines and singing harmonies on Sting's "Brand New Day," Simon's The Boy in the Bubble" and Sting's "Fields of Gold," a lovely ballad that in retrospect seems like it could have been penned by Simon.  Sting played his well worn bass; Simon was on acoustic guitar.

On "Boy in the Bubble," Sting jammed with Allentown resident Bakithi Kumalo, Simon's favored bass player and the man whose famous bass line on "You Can Call Me Al" always draws cheers.

Simon welcomed the crowd, describing his and Sting's union as "an experiment that's turned out to be fun and interesting."

"I had no idea he played bass," he joked about Sting.

He also joked that by the end of the tour, he expected the very fit Sting to rub off on him and he would become an "Adonis, able to have sex for days on end."

Sting played the straight man when Simon asked if the tour would result in any similar changes to him.

"I don't think so," he said.

Sting and Simon also each took a moment during the concert to express their admiration for each other, with Sting at one point ordering Simon off stage so he could say how much of an "honor" it was to share the stage with "Paul Simon and his extraordinary band. His body of work is humbling and inspiring at the same time. He has been a teacher and a mentor for many years."

They also took the time to give solos to band members, revealing extraordinary musicianship. "Driven to Tears" featured a crazy solo by Sting violinist Peter Tickell, resulting in multiple broken strings.

The highlight of highlights was Simon putting down the guitar to sing Sting's "Fragile" and Sting singing Simon's spine-tingling "America," each adding a new, welcome dimension to the song. Sting said  "America" took him back to the time when he was a young man on his first visit to the United States. He said he and the band traveled the country in a rented station wagon playing empty clubs, but with a "sense of wonder."

The concert ended with a quartet of shared songs - SImon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Sting's "Every Breath You Take,"  Simon's "Late in the Evening," and, finally, with just Simon and Sting, sans band, on The Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved."

Simon said the concert would end kind of like all their music started - "with a couple of guitars and a couple of voices and one mike."

It might be easy to focus on the differences between the two artists - Sting all buff and serious, a child of rock and new wave; Simon all rumpled and relaxed, a child of folk music. But instead their similarities were more obvious  - their love of the music, musicianship and harmony.

Sting and Simon stayed physically pretty close together in the center of the stage during their shared concert segments. Their body language and comments made it clear they enjoyed that proximity.

(c) Allentown Morning Call by Jodi Duckett

Sting, Paul Simon in fine voice for collaborative 'experiment' concert in Hershey...

If you entered the back of the Giant Center Sunday night, then listened and squinted toward the stage, you might have thought you'd been transported back to the 1960s.

There's diminutive music icon Paul Simon, singing in harmony with a tall guy.

But that taller guy is playing the bass. And his name is Sting.

The two musical icons performed mostly separately, and momentarily together, during the Hershey stop on their minimalistically named the "On Stage Together" tour before a large and appreciative crowd.

In that crowd, hands swayed, fannies shook and couples snuggled, ensconced in nostalgia that spanned two famous singer-songwriters' oeuvres from the '70s through the early years of the new millennium.

The two men, both dressed in T-shirts with matching black jackets and pants, opened the evening with a rollicking rendition of Sting's "Brand New Day," taking turns delivering a couple of lines and occasionally singing in harmony - as they did with the handful of numbers they performed together during the night.

The two men spoke sparingly on stage. Their two-plus-hour concert, instead, focused on the varied types of songs each man has produced over their respective long careers. Both men have created songs that are joyful and tunes that are profound, and each explored both musical worlds at Hershey.

"Welcome to our musical merging of styles and bands," Simon told the crowd early in the concert. "This is something of an experiment... that's turned out to be fun and interesting."

Each musical icon took his turn, solo on the stage, delivering several of his best-known numbers and giving the crowd plenty of chances to sing along to familiar lyrics.

Despite singing from beneath receding hairlines, both men demonstrated they're still in fine voice.

At 62, Sting, brought to the musical table a vocal instrument still strong and supple, and able to hit those high notes on hits such as the Middle Eastern-flavored "Desert Rose" and the rocking "Message in a Bottle."

The former Police frontman threw back his head and barked "Roxaaaaanne." He literally barked - and howled - on the mournful "Hounds of Winter." He crooned through the romantic "Fields of Gold" and delivered a spirited "Englishman in New York."

One of the more poignant moments of the night came as Sting paid tribute to Simon as "one of my mentors and teachers for many years," and launched, solo, into a lyrical rendition of Simon's "America."

Sting said the tune reminded him of a watershed moment in his life: his first trip to the United States with The Police when he was in his 20s - staying in fleabag hotels and playing in tiny venues while experiencing "that sense of wonder" of their early years as a band.

Simon, at 72, a decade older than his stage compatriot, delighted the crowd with such favorites as a thrumming "Graceland," thoughtful renditions of "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Hearts and Bones" and a bouncy delivery of "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," "Mother and Child Reunion" and "Boy in a Bubble."

Simon's phrasing was thoughtful and creative. While he occasionally showcased his acoustic guitar virtuosity, he mostly stood still at the mic, singing and employing a range of gestures - shaking his finger, waving his hands sinuously, doing a little dance, playing air piano and patting himself on the chest.

Sting and Simon came together in harmony for the Simon & Garfunel classic "The Boxer," accompanied, of course, by the entire audience on the "lie-la-lie's."

The backing band of about 11 musicians and one female backup singer was strong and versatile. The musicians deftly handled multiple instruments - fiddle, guitar, percussion, horns, reeds, accordion, mandolin - that conjured the orchestrations on both singers' most familiar recordings of their songs.

Simon and Sting's short tour will end in about a week. If the two men's collaboration is an experiment, it's one that should be allowed to continue to percolate in the musical laboratory, and evolve organically in front of audiences, for many years to come.

(c) Lancaster Online by Mary Ellen Wright

5 great moments from "Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together" at Giant Center...

Paul Simon sang that he was still crazy while Sting told Roxanne she could take the evening off from work. One is an Englishman and the other from New York. You get the idea: this is not a bill that seemed like the obvious child.

Yet, the match of Sting and Paul Simon worked flawlessly. Sharing the stage much of the time, joining in on each other's efforts and covering the other's songs, Sting and Paul Simon offered a fully committed show of more than 30 songs, mostly hits, that lasted almost 3 hours. A true co-headlining experience the fans seemed there for both men.

But the real magic was the unexpected deep musical affinity of Simon and Sting. Here are some highlights of the outstanding concert Sunday night at Giant Center in Hershey.

1. Sting claims to have always wanted to write a country song. The story of murder and shame told in "I hung My Head" owes something to the fellow who shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. And, Sting explained to the crowd that he wrote this song for Johnny Cash who recorded it near the end of his life. But Sting's version mixes up the rhythm without losing the cathartic motion of the tune. Just beautiful.

2. The shtick. Having been on tour for a while now, Sting and Paul Simon have developed a Borscht Belt repertoire. The highlight was Simon's self-effacing rap about sharing a stage with Sting:

"By the time we get to the end of this tour which is about a week from now I think the merging of personalities and everything will have been completed. And I will become very much like an Adonis and be able to have sex for days. It is just the change that I've learned from Sting. And, Sting, the changes you have learned from me...possibly? Okay, and, I'll see you in a little while."

Fourteen musicians on the stage with all those instruments and no one hits a rim shot for that?

3. Simon's latest studio effort "So Beautiful or So What" did not get near the attention the quality music deserved. Simon plucked one gem from that disc "Dazzling Blue" which proved a perfect showcase for his skilled musicians to knock off some polyrhythms that ended with a wonderful transition into "Graceland."

4. Sting kept Simon off stage when he offered a gentle, heartfelt and moving acoustic reading of the former's "America" that ended with a quick switch to an electric bass for a hard driving version of "Message in a Bottle." Another standout moment was a massive reading of "Desert Rose" that milked every dramatic pop moment from the music's multicultural menage.

5. With Sting's high range and both musicians on stage you knew it had to happen and the comparisons are inevitable. After hearing the two nail "The Boxer" my verdict: Art who?

(c) The Patriot News by Daniel Zampogna

Every Little Thing They Did Was Magic...

What a night... Sting and Paul Simon. Paul Simon and Sting. On stage together.

They said it was an "experiment," - they sang a couple songs on stage together for a fundraiser - that turned out to be "fun."

Both are giants at what they do, and it was fitting they played at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. And while Hershey claims to be "the sweetest place on Earth," it certainly was sweet to be there on Sunday, March 9.

The concert began with Simon and Sting sharing the stage and their songs: "Brand New Day," "The Boy in the Bubble" and one of my favorites, "Fields of Gold."

Once Simon left the stage, Sting offered: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," "Englishman in New York," "I Hung My Head," "Driven to Tears" and "Walking on the Moon."

Simon came back and alone sang such hits as: "Mother and Child Reunion," "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," "Graceland," "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Me and Julio Down by the School Yard."

Simon joined in on Sting's "Fragile," and Sting helped out on Simon's "The Boxer." And of course, the audience joined in on that song's "lie-la-lie" chorus.

Sting sang Simon's "America," noting it reminded him of his lean and early years on tour in this country.

So many great songs, and so little time. Even in the nearly three-hour concert, they couldn't get to everyone's favorites, although they did play around 32 numbers. ..."Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes," "Every Breath You Take," "You Can Call Me Al," "Desert Rose," "Late in the Evening," "Graceland," "They Dance Alone," "Bridge Over Troubled Water"...

I was missing Sting's "All Four Seasons," and my friend, Betsy Bethel, who was at the concert, too, wanted to hear Sting's "Fortress Around Your Heart" and Simon's "Feeling Groovy." I can just imagine the crowd going crazy on "Feeling Groovy," because we all were.

Together, Sting and Simon were funny - Simon joking that Sting's "Adonis" qualities would soon rub off on him. They were complimentary of each other's talents - their mutual respect and admiration were obvious.

The musicians on stage couldn't have been any better; Simon and Sting each brought their own band, members merging on this song and that.

Sting's band was made up of: Dominic Miller on guitar; Pittsburgh's Vinnie Colaiuta on drums; David Sancious on keyboards; Peter Tickell on electric fiddle. Jo Lawry was an incredible vocalist.

Simon brought with him: Mark Stewart, who appeared to play EVERYTHING, played guitars, saxophone, wind instruments, vocals and cello; Bakithi Kumalo, bass, percussion, vocals; Vincent Nguini, guitars, vocals; Jamey Haddad, percussion; Jim Oblon, drums, guitars, vocals; Mick Rossi, piano, Hammond organ, harmonium, percussion, celesta; Andy Snitzer, sax, synthesizer, flutes; C.J. Camerieri, trumpets, French horn; and Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, accordion, harmonica, vocals.

Lighting - all red on "Roxanne" and lots of white spots on other songs - was simple yet dramatic.

The encore - never long enough, right? - ended with an acoustic "When Will I Be Loved" by the Everly Brothers. Right then, at that moment - they certainly both were loved by the appreciative audience.

Suffice to say, the "experiment" worked.

(c) Wheeling News-Register by Phyllis Sigal
posted by Tyndal
Review of Hershey and Philadelphia demog
Review of Hershey and Philadelphia demographics. First I will start off with Demographics. Philadelphia overall by census had an apparent median age of 50. The apparent age range was approximate 45 to upper 60's. Hershey by comparison had greater diversity. The apparent range was 20 at the lower end and 75 at the upper end with a median range closer to 35. The seat sales in the Giant Center in hershey, PA, were approximately 8500, and by internal view approximately 85 to 90% full. Now onto the show. Both artists put on a wonderful show, with only one minor technical issue. On the first Paul Simon solo, his microphone had a a minor short producing a clicking while he was singing, this was quickly revolved the rest of the concert. As both artists entered the stage, Sting was given a standing ovation, but when Paul entered the stage the applause stepped up in levels. By raw audience sound it appeared that Paul had about a 33% advantage. The concert started off as by set timing. launching at 8:20 PM and closes about 5 minutes short of 11 PM. Both artists on an individual standing were entertaining but lacked the synergy together. They failed to mesh and it took almost 2/3 of the show to find a comfortable medium. The comment above about "one female backup singer was strong and versatile" is more kindness than content. Sting did not hit the highest vocal ranges he has in past, as an example Roxanne, but both being known for not wanting the song to be the same each time, that was perfectly acceptable. Stings vocals were tight and never missed the target for the range he was singing in. His backup singer on the other hand had a fantastic lower range, but on pushing to the higher range was strained and missed both pitch and consistency. She reminded me as she started of Clare Torry from the legendary solo "The Great Gig in the Sky" by Pink Floyd, that was short lived. Sting was hitting higher notes and the upper range on her extended solo showed that if she used a lower range it would have been magic, but as it stood, the high range strain made you cringe at times rather than bringing you in, it broke the mood. The backup hit of the night was the base riff to Call Me Al. The backup base took you back, and joyously so, into Simon and Chevy Chase and made you want to do the dance from the Video. The staged interactions between sting were so obviously choreographed, it removed any closeness, far from a genuine conversation that you would expect if you were privy to a backstage meeting. Sting did in his recolections and story telling of the early days, offered a warming connection and even if planned, at least connected with the audience, rather then watching a play naritive. Sting and Simon, by swapping out the stage is a novel way to perform an extended concert without ever having to have an intermission and gives the artists both vocal recovery time. This would not work with most concerts because it offers no real time for those important tour item purchases. Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses, Sting seemed to have trouble with some of paul simons lyrics in a few combined songs and backed strategicly away from the microphone when he seemed to loose place in the lyrics, but you had to be looking for it. Stings voice, stage presence and playing were top rate and consistant. Paul Simon melodic voice was not there. He was on pitch and enjoyable, but it lacked the tonal changes, the warmth, depth and sorrow, that made his sining so captivating. Mr Simon's gutar playing was a thing of beauty. On the gutar, what other bands acomplish by corrections in a sound studio, Mr Simon produced at will without any percieved effort. in the end it is a concert to see not only because of the individual artists involved, but it's a combined walk down memory lane and one of those shows that if you miss it.. you may never have a second chance. (c)
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