SHOW REVIEW

On the couch with Sting...

Once upon a time, Sting must have sat down on the couch in the 'salon' of his English manor house to plan his new tour. He would have said something along these lines: I am 48 years old, doing my umpteenth tour, my fans don't really dislike anything I do, but they'll probably expect to hear one or the other of my old hits. So what should I do? Should I still pretend to be young, like the Rolling Stones and book big sports arenas? Or should I pretend to be young again like Bryan Adams and play good old rock'n'roll with a power trio? Or should I get the old Hofner four- string out of the closet like Paul McCartney and improvise with a couple of friends in front of 300 people in the Cavern Club in Liverpool? Or should I do as Eric Clapton does and have chairs put up in the whole auditorium?

For his 2000 tour, Sting chose his show format so as not to be an experiment. He does it like always before: a complete and excellent band, exquisite sound, medium to large arenas, no chairs and grown-up pop music. If there is such a thing. Sting is a fan of the meticulous music recital, and in this regard, he is much more open for experiments. For him, a song is only the foundation, and if it is a good one, then that foundation is shapeable. With a strong band behind your back, consisting of the marvellously grooving grand master Manu Katche on drums, Dominic Miller on the guitar or Chris Botti, whose trumpet playing is an equivalent replacement to Branford Marsalis, Sting's companion on earlier tours, you can do a lot of things.

As light as a feather, the bass-plucking singer and his seven brothers in arms, walk the tightrope along these foundations. They manage to get even the rather unspectacular songs of his new album 'Brand New Day' to soar, which could best be observed with the introduction 'A Thousand Years' or, close to the end, 'Desert Rose'. He wasn't beyond stripping down even thoroughly written out classics, which was boring with 'Mad About You', but which worked marvellously with 'Message in a Bottle', played on the acoustic guitar. One could hardly imagine a better ending than the almost other-wordly 'Fragile'.

In that way, an atmosphere was built up in Hannover that captivated the attention of 7,000 heartily applauding fans. Soon, everyone realised that the old Eilriedenhalle was the wrong location for this. In the long, tube-like hall, a lot of the power that's set free by Stings music simply vanishes, and especially in the back part of the hall, it's no more than simple background music. One would desire a club concert, maybe in the Capitol, where you're close to the action, especially with the softer ideas of the detail-loving Englishman. Oh, heck, the best would be to sit with Sting on the couch in the salon of his English manor house to discuss for hours on end about God and the world and the rain forest. And if he'd play a little music as well, why not?

(c) Hannoversche Allgemeine by Uwe Janssen/translated by Michael Podvinec

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