Brand New Day
St. Louis, USVerizon Wireless Amphitheatre
With Tracy Chapman

Sting in St. Louis...

My tale starts at 10:00am April 29 this year, when tickets for Sting's July 22 concert in my hometown of St Louis, went on sale . By 10:02am, my dream had come true. I finally got FRONT ROW seats to see STING! I had been waiting for these seats for 20 plus years. I have admired Sting and his musical talent ever since I heard him in the Police in the late 1970's. Now with the tickets in my hand, my friend Tom asked if I was excited. That was the understatement of the year! I told him that I decided right there and then that July 22nd was going to be the best night of my life! Well, here it is Saturday, July 22 and Tracy Chapman has just walked off the stage at Riverport after giving a wonderful performance. Sting always has the best talent to open for him.

Now my heart is beating so fast I hope I don't fall back in my seat. The stage is dark and I can start to see the band (Dominic, Manu, Kipper, Chris and Jason) take their places on stage. Then with the band in place, the man I have admired for so long, Sting walks on stage. The crowd went wild, the stage lit up and there he was. My dream has really come true!

Sting and the band played perfectly. He played songs off the new album ('A Thousand Years', 'Desert Rose', 'After The Rain Has Fallen', 'Perfect Love Gone Wrong', 'Brand New Day') as well as his other great songs ('We'll Be Together', 'Set Them Free', 'All This Time', 'Seven Days', 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', 'Fields of Gold' and 'Bring On The Night').

About half-way through the concert, an audience member held up a sign and Sting asked the young man to come down so that he could read it. The sign had said that this guy's wife was going to leave him and that he (his name was Tim) would like to sing the song 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' with Sting. Sting agreed and told the guy to come up on stage and sing the song with him. While Sting and Tim were singing, Tim's wife came out of the audience and went up on stage. After the song, the couple kissed and Sting said he felt like Jerry Springer.

Sting also played the crowds Police favourites ('Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take', 'Message In The Bottle') and as every Sting fan will tell you, at the end of the concert he played my own personal favourite, 'Fragile'. After he played the last note of this song and put down his instrument, Sting and the band took their final bows, but wait, the best was yet to come. When Sting came by me standing, I stared up at him and called his name. As he looked down at me, I handed him a dozen yellow roses. He took them in his hands and said ''Thank-you, Mum!'' It felt like my heart had stopped beating. Here was a man that was thanking me when I should have thanked him because you see I lost over 45 pounds for the concert and I'm still losing weight. My life has really changed because I was motivated by getting those front row seats. So, I really have Sting to thank because now my life is starting a ''Brand New Day!''

(c) Nancy Wilpert for

Sting and his younger, hip band brought polished and perfect pop music...

No matter how many great singles Sting is behind these days, whether it's a new hit like Desert Rose or earlier solo nuggets like 'Fields of Gold' or 'We'll Be Together', it's hard not to sit at a concert and anxiously wait for the singer to unearth an oldie-but-goodie from his former group, the Police.

'Spirits in the Material World', 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'Voices in My Head' would easily do the job, but they weren't among the Police's songs that surfaced during Sting's concert Saturday night at Riverport Amphitheatre.

Sting's thoughtful reinvention of 'Roxanne', updated takes on 'Every Breath You Take' and Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', and 'Message in a Bottle', as well as the surprise inclusion of When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around' made Police fans happy.

But this being Sting's concert, these moments were sparse. As a solo artist, Sting has side-stepped the reggae-tinted rock he made famous with the Police and successfully plays around with the jazzy and world beat sounds that dominated the concert Saturday.

Sting and his younger, hip band brought forward polished and perfect pop music that was easy to consume, rock music with an exotic edge on songs such as 'Seven Days', 'Fields of Gold and Perfect Love...Gone Wrong', as well as surefire crowd-pleasers such as 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'.

An insistent fan holding up a sign for Sting to read inspired an entire sequence. Sting asked the man to come down so that he could read the sign. The man wrote that his wife had left him for his best friend and that he wanted to sing the country tune 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' on stage.

Sting and the man, identified as Tim, sang it as a duet (lyrics were already oddly on the music stand and ready to read). Tim's wife, Rachel, joined them on the stage and looked mighty uncomfortable. ''I feel like Jerry Springer up here,'' Sting said.

Folky singer Tracy Chapman opened the concert. It's been a while since Chapman broke through again with her 'Give Me One Reason' comeback single, but she's quietly back on the scene with her 'Telling Stories' CD. It hasn't gotten the reception it deserves, but Chapman did a great job familiarizing the crowd at Riverport to her sorely underplayed record. Songs such as 'Less Than Strangers', 'Speak the Word' and 'Telling Stories' were self-explanatory reasons to pick up the CD and were well-received. Even better received were the hits that got Chapman to this point, songs such as 'Fast Car', 'Give Me One Reason' and 'Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution'.

It's no secret that Chapman isn't an especially charismatic performer, though her haunting voice and musicianship make up for it. She was backed by a full band, which fleshed out what could have been a too-solemn set.

(c) St. Louis Despatch-Post by Kevin Johnson