Brand New Day

Oslo, NO
Stylistic from Sting...

What other song would be more fitting as an appetiser then 'A Thousand Years' when the concert is based on an album called 'Brand New Day', an album received with mixed reviews. As on record Sting in the Oslo Spectrum or in any concert arena in the year 2000 can only be an adult event. The average age of the audience was well above high school level, and the stage decorations could have competed with Vebjorn Sands ice castle until it change with the help of discrete fan and colour formations.

In addition the band as a whole could easily have been enrolled in certain ambulating labour unions if they had entered the capitol a while back. The Transport Workers Union would probably have sympathised with the long stretches in the music, but when that is said Sting is also a man who knows how to play the right keys. The audience were standing up and singing already on the second number, 'Set Them Free', just like all his older songs were received throughout the concert. The stretches in between though, often consisting of songs from 'Brand New Day', became no more then transit rooms where people preferred to use the seats they'd been given. 'After The Rain' was probably the only song from the new album that worked to its full in the first part of the concert.

Sting is a man who greets the audience in a confident and unconventional way. He says almost nothing between the songs, and lets the predetermined arrangements and musicians' solos set the agenda. This leaves out spontaneity and invites long drawn parts, something that is more suited for those who'd prefer to enjoy the music soft around the edges. This gets boring fast, but those who came to the Spectrum to receive Sting in his full, on his own thought-through terms, got what they wanted. And a lot more too; 'Roxanne', 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', 'Mad About You', 'Fields Of Gold', 'An Englishman In New York' and the great 'Fragile' and 'Every Breath You Take'.

A concert with Sting means a couple of hours of music, where most genres are sowed, fertilized and harvested on the way. Pop, jazz, fusion, contemporary beats, country in 'Fill Her Up' and timeless classically inspired rhythms makes their mark on a show where the musicians also were allowed some space: Chris Botti's beautiful and razor-sharp trumpet lines, Jason Rebello's stylishly playful keys and Dominic Miller's guitar drive got their spots and then some, plus a backup choir in full speed behind Stings bright signature voice and Manu Katche's well known drum-force.

The songs were skilfully executed by a band that presented what they have toyed with. And on those terms Sting is as strong a master of harmony as he is a master of ceremony. And even though this band had more punch then on earlier visits to Oslo, in songs like 'After The Rain', 'Magic' and, thanks to Botti's trumpet, 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', there is no doubt that Sting has an aura of security around him which limits the entertainment factor. Beautiful parts of solid performances from the band members and songs that burst with greatness, a rear set of conscious lyrics and search of harmony, aren't enough. When the last link in Stings general impression, the show, in spite of a play with genres we've rarely encountered, never seems to take off, you're left with an icky feeling of being wrapped in good, well-played and skilful intentions.

(c) Dagsavisen by Mode Steinkjerk/translated by Carl Gjerdrum

Sparks were flying...

It's still early, but there are grounds for calling last nights Sting concert in the Oslo Spectrum the concert bombe of the year. That a man who makes such boring albums can produce such great concerts is hardly believable.

With zero or less expectations it takes a lot to go off the handles as a blasé music critic. But that is what happened when Sting summoned the court in the Spectrum last night. Already on the second song he pulls out the crowd-pleaser 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', the slick bastard, and gets everyone on their feet. And the worst part is that it's great. The sound is virtually perfect, and you can hear the different instruments clearly. The beat is in place, and the party is on its way. But... the audience aren't dancing, they're swaying. Are they too well behaved? At least they clap and shout when the songs are finish. On the other hand; two songs into the concert and this. There is still hope.

And it doesn't take long before the Spectrum is sizzling and boiling like I've never seen before. I have never heard better sound in here before, and I have never heard better musicians in here before. With a seven man strong band, back-up singers included, he pulls himself through many of the songs from last years utterly boring album Brand new day, and makes it sound unusually stylish. With Manu Katche on drums, Jason Rebello on keyboards, Dominic Miller on guitar and Chris Botti's trumpet, they cut their way through the weed, and it's time for a surprise of the few. And the audience are... eh... in on it.

Here unique musicality is shown. There is no doubt Sting has brought with him some of the world's best musicians, and they're having a good day. Besides, Sting should be congratulated for not being a show-off artist. He almost never pampers himself, but instead lets the musicians carry the concert. They get to show what brilliant musicians they are, but also with out showing off too much. They blend in to the whole.

He makes room for four Police songs, and they are possibly the nostalgic highpoint, but the songs form Stings long solo carrier are equally good. I never thought I'd say that. But 'Mad About You', 'Fields Of Gold' in a particular beautiful rendition, 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' and 'Englishman in New York' shows that the man can, and this evening he can, do his thing very well.

One thorn in the side though is Sting as a country-artist. Put 'Fill Her Up' up against 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' for instance. Guess which one's the best - exactly! But when it comes to sophisticated jazz-pop, we're forced to bite the apple. The man is the boss. His albums may be terrible, but this was a hell of a concert.

(c) Avis1 by Erik Valebrokk/translated by Carl Gjerdrum

Sting the perfectionist delivered the goods...

About 7,000 people entered the Oslo Spectrum to see Gordon Sumner a.k.a. Sting. He showed that even though trends come and go one thing is certain: Sting does what he does best, namely perform his own songs in an exquisite way.

It wasn't show-off or acting that were in the spotlight. It was the music, and that was refreshingly delightful.

Sting has songs that are about something, and which are constructed within exciting parameters. He gets his inspiration from jazz, soul, funk, country and rock. The sum of which is simply Sting-pop.

After a solo carrier spanning over 15 years the ''musicians-musician'' has naturally a wide range of songs to choose between. Many fans have also followed him from the days prior to this in the glory days of the Police.

They could relish in a solid version of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and a sparkling edition of 'Roxanne'. The concert opened with the same songs as on Stings new CD, 'Brand New Day', the cool 'A Thousand Years', which dwells by the same basic chords - and therefore brilliantly set the mood.

With his faithful guitarist Dominic Miller by his side, and accompanied by the new drummer Manu Katche, Sting had the basic elements in place. He himself played the bass, rock solid as always. A choir of two, two keyboard players and a trumpet player completed the sound.

It was also nice to notice that Sting has as much to give vocally live as he does in the studio. The new songs marked the first part of the set. Of these 'After The Rain' with it's intense chorus has the best chance of becoming a future Sting-classic. Sting & co. performed versions with particularly sting of likewise catchy songs like 'Seven Days' and 'Fields Of Gold'.

I have rarely heard such crisp and clear sound in the capitals main living room on a pop-concert. That the songs are of such a quality didn't exactly diminish the experience. The sound engineer did a terrific job of defining the instruments in the stereo image; it was Hi-Fi in wide format.

Other highlights were 'Mad About You', 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and the frail and exceptionally beautiful 'Fragile'. During 'An Englishman In New Yor' the whole audience sang beautifully ''be yourself, no matter what they say''.

The songs from 'Brand New Day', including the title track, were also spotlessly performed, but in spite of repeated listening of these songs, they don't all live up to the high Sting-standard. With the exception of 'Desert Rose'.

But Sting has himself set the standard, and so we don't have any grounds to complain.

A great concert, fair and square.

(c) The Norwegian Telegram Bureau by John Berge / translated by Carl Gjerdrum