Sting lights up the Beacon...
On Sunday 21st November, Sting played his fourth and final show at the Beacon Theatre, New York. The small uptown venue, with it's ornate decor, reverberated to sounds of both new and old Sting numbers.
The set list (see end of review) included seven tunes from the new album interspersed with old favourites and 'yet agains'. The audience was receptive although are not helped by the majority of the ground floor seats being occupied by Compaq Computers personnel and their guests. This, together with the price of the tickets, and the fact that the venue was an all seater (a personal dislike of mine) meant that a 'rocking the joint' scenario was unlikely.
But, in true Stingfan tradition when the gig started to get going we were down the front like a flash showing the stiff yanks how to 'get down', even then some still remained sitting down. ''You can stick your corporate socialising, this is a gig and I'm gonna enjoy it buddy''.
Sting appeared on stage wearing a black leather jacket, green pilot trousers and desert boots. He kicked off with 'A Thousand Years', which does not exactly get the place pumping, but for most of this song the 'whistle and flutes' were making their way to their seats from the Bar. A couple of hand clapping numbers followed but then he slowed it down again with 'Perfect Love'. This was to be the pattern of the first half of the show, bringing it up then slowing it down. Personally I'd rather the set be in blocks of tempo. The place finally came alive during 'Fill Her Up' when Sting was joined on stage by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, who was brandishing a diamond ring on her finger. Are they or aren't they engaged was the question which consumed the papers the following day, in fact you may have seen articles in the British press. (The Sun had a couple of good colour pictures marking the evening). Jennifer had hosted the previous evening's 'Saturday Night Live' TV show, upon which Sting had appeared, and he had invited her to join him on stage the following night. Thankfully Sting did not adorn the same wig he was wearing on the TV show otherwise the sentiments to 'Tomorrow We'll See' may not be totally fictional!!
A notable moment of the show was a moving new song written for the late Kenny Kirkland. It was a beautiful waltz entitled 'Dienda' which Kenny had written and Sting, prompted by Branford as a memory to KK, had penned the lyrics. Sting said the song was written in response to a story Kenny had told him; about when he was young and had to forego playing in the streets of Brooklyn with his friends to practice his keyboard technique and all his friends would hear his music coming from his open bedroom window. It was a moving tribute to someone who Sting obviously cared for a great deal.
Following 'Every Little Thing', which finally got the majority of the audience on their feet, came a very New Orleans-style 'Moon Over Bourbon Street'. Sting wears his new found Jazz hat for this number. The final third of the set saw the performance of three further songs from the new album including the title track and the danceable 'Desert Rose' in which Sting announced back onto stage ''One of the great est singers in the world'' Cheb Mami. The main set ended with the 'Bring on the Night'/'World Is Running Down' combo.
The two encores were refreshed with an acoustic version of the classic 'Message In A Bottle' (very Live Aid-ish with lots of audience singing and Sting singing against the lyrics in the gaps. In fact the participation was so good that he stated at one point ''I might as well go home''. The show finished with what has now become the traditional curtain closer, 'Fragile'. Still a beautiful song with a lot of meaning to many people.
In true sad-like fashion we waited outside the Shark Bar Restaurant for the after show meal to finish and were rewarded with the appearance of Sting and Trudie who signed numerous autographs for the dozen or so people who had patiently waited. The fact that we could not blag our way in was eased by the sight of Delmar Brown (who played in Sting's band on the ''Sun'' Tour) having to spend over an hour trying to get in himself. The attraction of waiting longer for Brad and Jennifer did not appeal so we wandered off into the New York night reminiscing over yet another interesting night.
A Thousand Years/If You Love Somebody/After The Rain Has Fallen/We'li Be Together/Perfect Love...Gone Wrong/All This Time/Seven Days/Fill Her Up/Fields Of Gold/Dienda/Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic/Moon over Bourbon Street/Englishman In New York/Tomorrow We'll See/ Brand New Day/Roxanne/Desert Rose/ Bring On The Night-When The World Is Running Down/If I Ever Lose My Faith In You/Every Breath You Take/Message In A Bottle/Fragile
(c) Andy Finch for Outlandos/Sting.com