Brand New Day
Vienna, ATStadthalle

The artist as a jukebox...

Skeleton-like constructions of songs and the artist as a jukebox - bass player and singer Sting gave a guest performance at the municipal hall in Vienna.

Where can you relax better after a hard and nasty working day when Mr. Sting drops by once again? There are no fantasies about armchair destructions overcoming the audience and no particular dissatisfaction about the world is floating through the exhausted cerebrum.

The audience sits down (Just as if they were in the music association or concert hall of Vienna) and listens and thinks and thinks and listens, as their minds are not taken off their thoughts by the events : Sting, the ballad man.

Sting, the ''world-music eclectic''. Sting, who wrote some very good songs a long time ago. Sting, who is on stage like a deep frozen woodcutter with a circular saw - yes, there's just not much happening this evening in the municipal hall in Vienna.
After the first song he takes off his jacket, just wearing a t-shirt underneath and the audience applauds for that bit of bare skin, which is alright. At least he's come in spite of sanctions as he doesn't believe in isolation.

However the following show is not to be judged as hard work. Now and then he walks up to one of his keyboard players or to his guitarist, and once in a while he waves at us. Apart from that there's nothing happening visually except from the changing of the sets. There are illuminated curtains, three big arrays and some shyly shining Chinese lanterns, as they go well with some old songs, which celebrate the moon.
Unavoidable tiredness arises: ''Uahhhh!'' The jaw stretches and the cerebrum asks strange questions. If Sting was a woman would Rod Stewart like him and would Sting sing a song with that fan of blondes? And: What's the difference between a Sting concert and a Sting cd? There is no difference. The Englishman's live performance is like his own jukebox, which mixes a huge medley of old Police songs with new songs and solo classics. So the comparison of old and new is rather an assurance.

However there is one difference between the sound storage medium and the live jukebox. Sting is a studio musician, who's ideas need the hazy arrangements to survive. But as he leaves out the spice of sounds and arrangements in concert, some songs look like their general mood. That doesn't matter with the good ones. The bad ones seem to be unmasked as safer pop, with single jazzy passages. A trumpet is trumpeting incessantly, ensnaring Sting's nasal vocals, which are practising the imitation of Louis Armstrong. And as the trumpet plays a more important role than at any jazz concert, one is starting to hate the instrument.

And then there are again questions coming up: Why does the man do concerts and why doesn't he take his studio musicians on tour with him, if he wants to give the impression of a session? The saxophone player Branford Marsalis, Wynton's brother, who hates pop music, would be able to contribute his share to the songs, as long as Mr.Gordon Mathew Sumner offers his band that much scope.

In case the fee is the reason, we'd be willing to transfer a small amount to a Sting donations account.

(c) Der Standard by Ljubisa Tosic