SHOW REVIEW

Stadium buzzes with Sting sound...

It was all sophistication and elegance at Hersheypark Stadium last night, an evening better suited to a smoky lounge than an outdoor sports facility, as that consummate Englishman in New York (and everywhere else, for that matter) Sting brought his brand of complex, classy jazz-pop to about 6,000 midstate fans, mostly older, well-dressed and well-heeled.

It was the ex-Police frontman's first visit to Chocolatetown, and judging by the relatively small crowd's ecstatic response, it ought to be the first of many.

Touring to support his latest album, the top-10 and Grammy-winning 'Brand New Day', Sting delivered a beautifully paced, masterfully played set made up of tracks from not only that album, but previous solo efforts such as 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles', 'Nothing Like the Sun', 'The Soul Cages', and 'Ten Summoner's Tales', as well as classics culled from his Police days.

The 48-year-old singer was in fighting form in a sleeveless red T-shirt and dark pants, his blond hair cropped short, his model good looks unchanged since his days as one of Britain's hottest musical exports.

He's not much for onstage chit-chat, instead turning out one great tune after another. Coming onto a virtually undecorated stage, save for a few white draperies, to the languid, sensual new track 'A Thousand Years', Sting then hit 'If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)' and the seductive tale of forbidden love, 'After the Rain Has Fallen'. Then it was into a snappy 'We'll Be Together' and the quirky 'Perfect Love...Gone Wrong', complete with a rap in French.

The chiming 'All This Time' flowed into the wonderfully jazzy and delicate 'Seven Days'.

Sting's back-up musicians, as usual, were standouts, particularly his longtime singers, horn player and drummer Manu Katche. Altogether a terrific set from a man who has yet to write a bad song.

First up last night was lanky 19-year-old bluesman extraordinaire Jonny Lang, whose most recent album is 1998's 'Wander This World'. He's to have a new disc out early next year.

The Minneapolis-born Lang is a seasoned performer despite his tender age, and his polished but passionate blues were an interesting, earthy foil for Sting's culturally diverse, jazz-rooted work.

He had a lovely touch with slower numbers like 'A Quitter Never Wins' and 'Walking Away'. One highlight was a lovely acoustic song about his ''Irish angel,'' a heartbreaking tale of lost love; another was an anything-you-can-do duel with his fabulous sax player. He closed with a raw, rocking 'Lie To Me' that drew a standing ovation.

Due to deadline constraints, The Patriot-News was unable to review the entire concert.

There's one show left in Hersheypark's summer season: Friday, Phish, in the Stadium.

(c) The Patriot-News by Kira L Schlechter



On the road to Hershey...

Flying to New York to see Sting's Central Park gig should be the highest spot of my own Brand New Day Tour... but things do change sometimes! Hershey, Pennsylvania.. my Big Apple!!!!!

A friend had promised Wanda Stone and myself tickets and backstage passes for Hershey and so I decided to leave New York for a trip into the American countryside. Hershey is 160 miles away from NY and at 10am on Sunday the 10th of September our adventure began.

First, one of my all time wishes came true - to drive a car on my own through NY, open windows, Sting's music very loud, 5th Avenue, Time Square, the quintessence of freedom! After a 3? hour trip we arrived in the American province... Walton's mountain (sorry for that!) Little houses, white fences, cows and cornfields everywhere.

Arriving at Hershey Park Stadium we had a good view of the stage from the outside but the band wasn't there, yet! Some fans were already there though and we waited together for over an hour in the sun and we had a lot of 'fun' with a policewoman who didn't like us! Sting and the band arrived in three vans but there was no chance to meet them as they drove right through the gates and disappeared into the backstage area.

After hearing the soundcheck from the outside, an hour later we picked up our envelope at the cash-desk with the tickets and the passes and went in. I have met Sting a few times this year outside arenas but it's always so exciting to be backstage. At first no one was there, apart from about 15 people standing beside us waiting for something! Later we found out that they all had won a radio-competition for ''A meeting with Sting''. So we followed them as inconspicuously as we could!

Sting was waiting in a small room, and we all had to wait in lines and were allowed in in groups of three. It was a little bit like an audience with the Pope!

Sting looked great, as always, wearing his red tank top, brown trousers and our heartbeats reached the highest levels! Wanda, my girlfriend and me were almost the last ones to get in! He looked at us and smiled, and of course, he knows Wanda, and greeted her with ''Hi, Darling...'' - wow - but since some of our meetings in Europe he knows me too and he was very surprised to see I had traveled all the way from Germany to Hershey. He knew of course, that we had nothing to do with this radio competition!

We showed him a few photos of previous meetings with him in Europe and he always guessed where they were taken! I asked him when he was coming back to Europe and he said in Spring 2001! After that we had a photo taken together. It's always funny Sting and I are almost the same height, but he always makes himself bigger! Standing between us with straight back, his arms around us, saying in his incomparable deep voice: ''...German girls ...thank you for your support... nice to see you again, etc. so we were on cloud nine. He is always so charming! Finally, we wished him good luck for the show and told him that we would see him in NY!!!

Whilst we were looking for Dominic and Chris, we bumped into Phil, Dom's assistant. He gave us all a big hug and showed us where to go. They were sitting in the lunch tent playing chess together. So we waited a while not wanting to disturb them. After the game we had a little talk together. Chris was also surprised to see us from Germany. He was very interested to hear that we fans know each other from all over the world and that we travel together and remembered our large group in London! Dominic was there with his son, and we took more pictures. Both were also very nice and we all hoped that we would have good weather for the concert in Central Park.

We then took our seats to see the show! It's strange for a European fan to sit during the concert. Sting had a lot of work to generate some atmosphere into the rather boring crowd. ''C'mon Pennsylvania,'' he kept saying. It turned out to be a great show. It was the first time I had seen the belly-dancers and they did a really great show to turn Sting on! One lady threw a red slip on the stage and Sting looked rather embarrassed when he stopped to pick it up!

The set list is well known by now, but he played 'A Thousand Years' and the version of 'Fill Her Up' with the solo with Johnny Lang was really great.

After the concert we went backstage again but the band had already gone - heading for New York. Nevertheless we had a lot of fun without them, sitting in the lunch tent, eating, drinking, and talking with the crew and having a peek at Sting and the band's dressing rooms! It is not always like a 5 star hotel - the dressing rooms were very simple and small, but it's so funny, being there it feels like you are almost touching holy ground! To know that Sting and the band were there a few minutes a go, eating their fruit, drinking their wine, sitting on around... So we crazy girls were in a different world for three hours!

We all had a great day, and driving back to New York in the night we giggled the whole time. It was nearly 3 o'clock in the morning when we arrived and it was very exciting again - it's true that the city that never sleeps! We fell into our beds and were looking forward to the things that could happen in the next few days!

We also had good luck the following day too, bumping into Dominic and his son at Liberty Island. It was very funny! Maybe he isn't recognised too often and so he looked very surprised when we called out his name very loud. We shook hands and he recalled us. His son is so cute! They had to take the next boat back to Manhattan because Dominic had to go to the Letterman Show. We took the same boat, and at the dock Dominic had to run to get a taxi, because as he was very late. We carried on with our sightseeing tour through NY!

That's the end of my report. Two exciting days before the Central Park Concert! The whole NY-trip was very nice! I always have to thank Sting because I would never been to so many exciting places around the world without him! See you all in Europe 2001!

(c) Jutta Jondral for Sting.com



Sting sharp in a magnetic Hersheypark concert...

Love him or hate him, there's no denying Sting's charisma.

The former frontman for the Police, his bass strapped over his shoulder, strutted around the stage at Hersheypark Stadium like he owned the place.

By the time he left the stage after his hour-and-50-minute performance, the small but devoted crowd that showed up to hear him was ready to throw him the keys to Hersheypark, Chocolatetown and anything else he might have wanted.

Sting, dressed in a burgundy, sleeveless T-shirt that showed off his well-toned upper body and green cargo pants, played all the obvious, crowd-pleasing choices. They included 'Every Breath You Take', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', 'Roxanne', 'All This Time', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', 'If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)' and 'Fields of Gold'.

To his credit, Sting didn't settle for playing rote versions of his biggest hits as he tinkered with almost everything he performed. He turned the middle of 'Roxanne' into a rhythmic workout and engaged in a long stretch of call and response with the crowd before the entire band roared back into action for the final, familiar chorus.

'When the World is Running Down' included a long, jazzy piano solo and an excellent rendition of 'Seven Days' highlighted the trumpet of Chris Botti, who proved an excellent foil for Sting's muscular vocals throughout the evening.

And Sting didn't just play the old and familiar as he performed a batch of songs from his most recent album, 'Brand New Day', including the title cut, 'Desert Rose', 'A Thousand Years' and 'Fill Her Up'.

'Fill Her Up' was an especially interesting choice as it's an ersatz country song that takes an unexpected left turn and somehow ends up as a stirring gospel number. It's a failed experiment on the album, but it was a rousing success in concert, aided mightily by an explosive guitar solo from Jonny Lang, the opening act.

Two songs before he played 'Desert Rose', Sting peered into the audience and for the lights to be turned on the crowd because he had spotted an interesting sign.

When the spotlight finally found the sign: ''I want to belly dance with you.'' He told the woman carrying the sign and her two friends to head to the stage. They danced with him during 'Desert Rose'.

The episode showcased a playfulness that permeated the entire concert, a playfulness not often associated with Sting, whose detractors like to skewer him for his alleged self-seriousness and pretentiousness.

There is a certain pretention in some of Sting's music, but only the deaf can fail to be uplifted by his songs. Sting has always written eloquently about the redemptive power of love. It's a theme that can be found in every stage of his career, from 'Message in a Bottle' all the way up to 'Brand New Day'.

His powerful performance Sunday made believers of everybody in the audience.

(c) The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal by Jon Ferguson



Sting has stung fans with his versatile style...

There's one thing you could say about pop star Sting before he ever took the stage at Hersheypark Stadium Sunday night - his music has a multigenerational appeal.

The crowd of about 9,000 was as eclectic as the music itself, a testament to Sting's longevity and versatility.

His stop here, one of the last for his current tour, attracted everyone from the guy with the fire-engine-red goatee and tattoos to the stylishly dressed wine and cheese tailgaters. Pre-teen kids came with their thirtysomething folks and white-haired couples came in dresses and oxford shirts.

None seemed to go away disappointed.

Following a hard-driving hour-long set by opening act Jonny Lang, a 20-year-old singer/guitarist, Sting launched into a nearly two-hour concert without breaks that frequently left the crowd on its feet.

With more than two decades worth of material to choose from, he offered something for everybody, whether it was his Louie Armstrong-like rendition of 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', ending with him howling at the moon, the touching ballad 'Fields of Gold' or an extended version of the moody Police classic 'Roxanne'.

Sting also gave ample play to his most recent releases, performing no fewer than six songs from his Grammy-award-winning 1999 CD and tour namesake 'Brand New Day'.

''I think he's actually just as good, if not better, live,'' said Jamie Bellis, who came from Washington, D.C. ''He's the only person I've seen twice in one tour. He's got a great set of lungs.''

And, it turned out, Sting has got a sense of humor, too.

At one point, he had the lights turned on the crowd to get a better look at a sign that read: ''Sting, we want to belly dance for you.''

''Local talent. I like this,'' he said, urging the sign-holders to come forward. Two songs later, three unidentified spandex-clad girls were on stage performing a surprisingly impressive and fluid backup dance to Sting's latest hit, 'Desert Rose'. It was almost enough to forget the absence of Cheb Mami, the Algerian singer who performs the distinctive vocals on the single.

Sting clearly enjoyed interacting with the crowd, frequently drawing fans to their feet and urging them to sing along.

They complied willingly, especially on the Police favorite 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', performed with slightly less frenzy than the original and a hint of the African drum beat he's adopted in recent years.

Sting also had the crowd singing on the fast-tempo 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and the witty 'Englishman in New York', even exhorting at one point, ''You can do better than this!''

All of it, however, wasn't enough to hold the attention of one little fan who snoozed peacefully across two seats, not even stirring as the crowd chanted, ''Sting, Sting,'' before the obligatory encore.

Fortunately the little snoozer, whose dad was left clutching his stuffed animal, was probably too young to appreciate what he missed: two encores featuring Sting at his best on 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', an up-tempo and not nearly as eerie as usual rendition of 'Every Breath You Take', and the Spanish-flavored 'Fragile'.

Most notable, however, was a slowed-down, hauntingly beautiful acoustic version of 'Message in a Bottle', nothing more than Sting's soft voice and a guitar.

To the die-hard Sting fan, that alone was worth the price of admission.

(c) The Lancaster New Era

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