SHOW REVIEW

Juggler in Rhythms and Styles...

When little Gordon was plugging the evening paper in his native Newcastle, he needed a good pitch that would carry well above the traffic noise. Years later, then Mr. Sumner, he drove schoolchildren to their PE lessons and had to use his voice to prevail over their shouting. That's what one could call good training. Today he is called Sting and has been earning global fame as a musician for more than twenty years now - not least thanks to his unmistakably piercing voice.

And, thank goodness, his health is back. On Sunday at last, he came to the Goettingen Lokhalle for a rescheduled concert, after the first date in early February had had to be cancelled at very short notice due to Sting's flu. He lives, sings and plays again and seems to be at his best and most convincing in a long time. Almost all tracks from his current album 'Brand New Day' are presented by him, alongside a bunch of older pieces and of course some classics from ''Police'' times, down to the all-time greatest hit, the secret secret service hymn 'Every Breath You Take'.

A skillful juggler of musical styles and rhythms, he proves a perfectionist in Goettingen, too. The sound which he produces with his seven accompanying musicians - every single one of them excellent (outstanding: Chris Botti on trumpet) - flows from the speakers so crisp that one is at a loss as to why there were ever any sound problems in the Lokhalle. Sting and band play their way casually and effortlessly through the near two-hours set, mastering the tributes to swing, country, gospel and, above all, jazz with the most compelling of ease. One of many highlights: 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' in a version swinging as brutally as possible and introduced by the Mackie Messer song (in German!).

This pleasant blend of calm and fascination finds its visual expression in the light and stage show. Food for the eyes: curtains fall, umbrellas unfold, moons rise, artificial fires even burn. Yet the effects which the countless spotlights throw on to this decoration remain as unhectic and unpretentious as the music. The 8,000 fans in the Lokhalle were enthusiastic. A concert of rare beauty.

(c) Goettinger Tageblatt by Joachim F. Tornau / translated by Angelika Goldmann



Brilliant, ingenious, full of facets...

The man does not only walk, he paces - all calm, from the mike to the rim of the stage, blinks in the direction of the audience, then paces back. Relaxed he stands in front of a little table with soft drinks, sings, plucks his bass and taps an occasional foot with the beat. If one did not know that Sting is a disciple of Eastern meditation, you could think he has popped a sleeping pill just before the concert in the sold-out Goettingen Lokhalle.

Gordon Sumner, this being the civilian name of the 48-year old, greets the 8000 fans at the rescheduled concert with a ''Wie geht's''. In February, he had been laid low by a flu. So this weekend he came back to Germany for a couple of concerts. A matter of honour, since it was German jazz guru Eberhard Schoener who in the 70s encouraged him to raise his voice into the characteristic falsetto. The Sting falsetto - a tiny bit off-key in true jazz fashion, formerly (in Police times) with a bolshy pose, nowadays elegant and well-balanced.

With his former band The Police he became a youth icon. In 1983, the trio was the first band to fill the New York Shea Stadium after the Beatles.

Police past? Certainly not, because it is the batch of Police songs in the set list which in a Sting concert make for sheer enthusiasm with an authenticicity label. 'Every Breath You Take', 'Roxanne' and 'Message in a Bottle' are still the collective sing-along tunes, from the first to the last row. And for all that, without a video screen many fans in Goettingen saw the star only from a distance. No matter - as long as he plays these songs. And Sting still sings them with passion and turns the originally spartan Roxanne into a club orgy with the audience as a choir.

Seven musicians are at his side, who reproduce his ingenious acoustic paintings on a world class level, garnished by a tasteful light show. His sophisticated solo hits, from Set Them Free to the mercilessly beautiful Fields of Gold down to the current 'Brand New Day', are celebrated with a love for absolute perfection. For they are highly complex, delicate castles built in the air - an audacious blend of jazz, rock and ethnic elements, which is only pulled back down to the earthly ground of mainstream music by the exquisite melodies. Without them, there would not be much left of the sometimes extraordinarily intricate metre and the exotic harmonies but stilted boredom and an impressive, yet sterile virtuosity. To make something complex seem simple: nobody is as good at this as Sting.

In 110 minutes, the pop aristocrat paces through the styles, leaving his guitarist Dominic Miller some space for a formidable solo Santana style during 'Tomorrow We'll See', praising Chris Botti on trumpet and Jason Rebello on piano. For the twin song 'Bring On The Night'/'When The World Is Running Down' the latter is allowed to show all he can next to the driving beat of Manu Katche's drums, before Sting's familiar ''yeaho'' reduces the musical tangle back to a plain canon between singer and audience. Masterly.

'Fragile', beautiful in a spartan way and the fourth encore, leaves an enthusiastic audience behind, and then the man with the handsome upper arms swiftly gets into a limousine and is gone. Where to? Recently, the three Police members gave their first joint interview in 17 years and thereby fuelled speculations on a reunion of the super group which had fallen out hopelessly a long time ago.

(c) Hessisch-Niedersaechsische Allgemeine by Ulrich Hacker/translated by Angelika Goldmann

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