A Dutchman in New York...
It was a warm and dry February day in the dark
When I touched the holy ground at Newark
Snow was melting on the ground
In the Prud I heard the sound
Of an angel
New York, like a Christmas tree
Tonight this city belongs to me
Sting love...this love won't let me go
So long...angel of Wallsend!
Ok, nobody noticed I stole these lines, right?
Having won these fantastic tickets on Sting.com for the Sting concert at the Prudential center, I flew to Newark last Thursday. Getting through US immigration always feels like an interrogation as if you're some bad guy. Luckily I had a good story to enter the country. With some envy the immigration officer learned the purpose of my stay. Astonished he'd asked: "you've got a ticket for that show"? YES, in your face! Next of course he wanted to see the ticket, wanted to know how I got it, if I was related to Sting, was I there to work?! Luckily the ticket was at will call, cause he?d probably had taken the tickets and send me back home. Now I was entitled to enter the United States.
My suitcase was waiting at the luggage carousel. Up to the taxi stand for a yellow cab to my hotel in Newark, New Jersey. It was a sunny and warm afternoon and the snow of the past weeks was melting. With the car windows open and the radio on the taxi driver drove me the Best Western over Broad Boulevard. What I saw was a rundown shopping street with several homeless, mentally challenged, addicted people or a combination of those strolling over the pavement. To which ghetto is he driving me to, I thought? At the horizon I saw the skyscraper of Prudential, so I must be going to the right direction. At the end of the boulevard Military Park on which my hotel is, which seemed to be the heart and business center of the city.
I checked in took the elevator to the 7th floor. The hotel room was roomy and spotless. Wow great room... opened the curtains of the window and WOW... the skyline of New York City on the horizon. It was already getting dark, so I decided to visit NYC tomorrow and go out and see what Newark has to offer. Left my winter coat in the hotel room, put on my NCU sweater (cause nobody fu*&s with Geordies or Limburgers ;o)) and went on the streets of Newark. I walked from block to block in hopes of finding some places of interest. I soon noticed I'm the only Caucasian in the streets, which was awkward but didn't really bother me. The people (especially the ladies) smiled friendly and it didn't feel unsafe. Later I was told Newark has one of the highest crime rates of the United States. http://spotcrime.com/nj/newark Then again, I once arrived at North Shields, Tyneside for my ferry back home. I told customs I had park my car at Wallsend Station and took the metro into Newcastle. He customs officer looked at me as if I was mad and was surprised I didn't find my car on 4 blocks. So yes, as Sting said Newark is a bit like Newcastle.
Apart from some nice buildings Newark is a 'lifeless town'. So after an hour of walking through dodgy neighborhoods I finally found Prudential Center on Mulberry Boulevard, which was only a 5 minutes' walk from the hotel...if you know the route. There was an ice hockey game Devils against Rangers that night and where Broad was totally black, Mulberry was totally white. Weird!
After breakfast the next morning I walked to Newark Penn Station and took the metro to Manhattan. 15 minutes later I arrived at the World Trade Center station. First I need, was a caramel macchiato at Starbuck...nothing tastes better than this brew. Walked around Ground Zero toward Battery Park then over to the other side of lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Bridge and Pier 17. I've visited New York City in 2000 last and must many beautiful and strange buildings have been built in these years. Had a wonderful Thai food at Pier 17 then took the metro to Time Square, which was also totally transformed. I just spend an hour watching what was happening over there and then continues my walk down 7th Avenue along Carnegie Hall to Central Park. My feet were blistered by then. It was warm and sunny. People were walking around in their t-shirts and the remaining snow was melting rapidly. I took a seat on a bench (not the Sting bench in Central park), but a bench overlooking his "old" apartment and enjoyed the first sunshine of the year and joggers or nannies with prams walking by.
I didn't take a map with me, cause I was too lazy to carry it all day, but also wanted to go by the flow, cause it often brings you to the best spots in town. I wanted to make some nice photos of the New York skyline, so I wanted to go to the Empire State Building. At Central Park I took the metro, but only vaguely knew where to go. At 28th Street I thought, let's go out and to my own surprise I was only 3 blocks from the Empire State Building. Went up, had a lovely view...was glad the camera wasn't blown out of my hands up there, cause it was quite windy. Around 6 I had no legs anymore and took the metro back to the vibrant Newark. Had a quick dinner at McD and went for an early night.
On concert day, I went to the Prudential Center early in the morning. The weather changed over night from a sunny spring day to a cold cold stormy winter day. At 11am nothing happening at the venue, at 1pm I went for a Burger at Brick City on Lafayette. When I came back first signs of something going on there...someone was putting up banners of the Sting concert sponsored by American Express. The rest of the time I killed more time by exploring Newark. Around 6 I went to the box office to pick up my precious tickets and met Wanda several minutes later to join me on this party. We went to Brick City bar & grill to meet up with Sue and Paul. Where else do you find Brits other then the pub?! ;o)
Around 7 we went into the Prudential Center and met the American fans and contest winner. We had been allocated to 2 executive suites and food and drinks where for free and plenty. Although we would have loved to be on the main floor and close to the stage, it was just a treat to be there!
Sting got on stage with this magnificent band with Dominic Miller on guitar, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, David Sancious on keyboard and Jo Lawry on backing vocals... it brought back memories of my first gigs and favorite Soul Cages tour. This is the band he should tour with all the time!
They performed a nearly 2 hour's show with this wonderful set:
If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
Message In A Bottle
Englishman In New York
Synchronicity II brilliant
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
When We Dance loved the rocking guitar in this song, Dom!
I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying Sting told the story about his love for westerns and writing country songs. He said it was recorded by the late Toby Keith, then realized the guy is still alive and he mixed the story up with the next song. And yes, Geordie cowboys don't wear cowboy hats!
I Hung My Head
Fields Of Gold
If You Love Somebody Set Them Free It started very slow and funky, I slowly got irritated that I didn't recognize the song until he sang the first line... cool version!
The Hounds Of Winter Love it!
Driven To Tears Love it!
Shape Of My Heart
Heavy Cloud No Rain Fun song...only participation from the 2 suites :o)
Wrapped Around Your Finger Brilliant!
Bring On The Night/When The World Is Running Down I can hear this song 24/7 and never get tired of it.
King Of Pain Ditto! Dom at his full potential... no holding back on his guitar at this gig! The band left the stage for the encores and the hall was already empting...what the hell?!
Every Breath You Take OK, they are going to continue.... Some people came back. Band went off stage again...yep, people heading for the exits already...
Next To You Kick ass in a half empty venue! Best show I've seen in the last 3 years!
After the gig we went for a drink at Brick City to review this wonderful evening. Happy and sleepy I got to my hotel after midnight! Next morning I packed my bags, went out in hopes of doing some shopping, but didn't realize it was Sunday. When you travel you lose track of day and time and location sometime. Made it back to Newark airport with plenty of time and had a safe journey back home. On Amsterdam Airport I took the train back home... only to be stopped in the middle of nowhere (Breukelen aka Brooklyn!), cause there was a fire at Utrecht station. At first they wanted to evacuate us on busses to Utrecht station, but luckily the situation improved within 15 minutes and we could continue the journey by train with a small delay. After 7 hours of travel, 24 hours of no sleep the last that you want is a bus ride from Utrecht to Eindhoven. Would I do it again, yes I will! :o)
Some pictures that go along with the story http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=54186&id=100000594797259&l=de62847d84
(c) Luuk Schroijen for Sting.com
Sting at the Prudential Centre in Newark...
Thanks Wendy, Dave and Tina for another remarkable gift to Sting.com members! Marym, my BFF, was a lucky winner of a pair of tickets to see Sting in Newark last night and she took me as her "date." We were sooooo happy to be there! Sting was with his band mates, Dom (of course), Vinnie, Jo, and a rather gray David Sancious. Sting is now sporting very short hair - shorter than we like (you aren't bald yet, sweetie), but looked amazing, as usual - those blue eyes! He also sounded quite great, as you have read. We'd describe the night as "The Best of Sting and the Police," with great renditions of songs like "Englishman in NY," "Seven Days," "Bring on the Night" and "If you Love Somebody, Set them Free," (which Mary and I had not heard live before, so very cool) as well as "Wrapped Around your Finger," "Synchronicity II" and "King of Pain."
While our male Sting.com counterparts have apparently become a bit obsessed with Jo's skinny jeans, I have to say that Mary and I were rather focused on the jeans or lack of jeans worn by Dom. In another of "firsts" for Mary and me, Dom was not wearing his tried and true black jeans, but rather loose-fitting grey pants of some sort. Has anyone ever seen Dom in anything other than black jeans? Well, he must have been feeling cheeky last night - or have forgotten his own clothes (like the time during the Sacred Love tour when Dom's clothes were missing and he donned Sting-brand Yoga attire, later to learn the items were actually from the women's clothing line). Dom was his usual great self, though, and played a great guitar riff during "King of Pain" that Sting just loved. Funny moment of the night was when our dear ( "you gotta love him") Sting introduced "I'm So Happy" with the same line he (normally) uses to introduce "Hung My Head, by talking about the "late, great" - (not Johnny Cash but) Toby Keith! Sting caught himself, though by saying Toby is quite still alive!
All in all, the show was great. We would love to have a "Stingchronicity" show just llke it for months to come. Hear that, Sting? Huh
Best part of the evening - hanging with our fellow Sting.com friends in our box. We could - and did - sing, stand and dance, all night long and no one told us to sit down. We rocked the joint! None of us needed Suite food and beverages - Sting is Soul Food! Great to see JohnnyJumpstart, Tommie, Wanda, Luuk, Sue and Carter, as well as others. Thanks, Sting.com for being the best Fan Club - EVER!
(c) Margie (Gertie7) and Mary (Marym)
It's the mark of any great performer that they can play a two hour set full of great material, hits and rarely played gems and not only leave you wanting more, but have the capacity to deliver it. Last night's set was one number shorter than Cleveland's but how can you complain? Those of you who managed tickets through your membership with Sting.com and those of us who lucked out through other resources got to see a spectacular evening of music for free! Not only was the show itself free, but a visit to the concession stand for anything on the menu didn't leave our wallets any lighter. How often does that happen? Did anyone try any of those cleverly named drinks? Not being a fan of the hootch, I stuck with the Heavy Cloud, No Rain Medium Pepsi. So, it's been a few years since most of us have seen Sting strap on the bass and rock our collective socks off. It's been even longer since we've heard him pull out gems like 'The Hounds of Winter' and 'Seven Days'. The lineup of last night's show was stellar. While I may often seem to focus on Jo Lawry's looks amid the constant posts on chest hair, I hope you won't begrudge me that diversion, as the woman does make my eyeballs feel nice, she brings far more than window dressing to the stage. Her vocal work clearly complements Sting's efforts, and it was great to see that holds just as true in a rock setting as it does in the more sedate Symphonicities and ...Winter shows. Whatever the reason, perhaps through new vocal training techniques, I'd say Sting's own voice has improved since Jo has joined the proceedings. Vinnie's drumming - modest, but powerful. Adventurous, but precise. Dominic's guitar work - what can be said that we haven't been saying for years? and David's work on the keys? Phenomenal. If one has an inclination to complain about anything witnessed last night, it'd be the crowd. Is it really that difficult to hold your bladder for two hours and watch the event you're there for and not constantly get up and go to the bathroom? Are we Americans falling behind the Japanese on that front as well? Is it too much to expect that you watch and listen to the concert and not converse throughout? Granted, people go to concerts for different reasons, whether it's to watch and listen to our favorite band or dance in the aisles, but I don't think those reasons should include having loud and annoying conversations about nothing. Ok, I'm feeling a bit catty this morning, due in part to lack of sleep, so I too will shut up. Looking forward to reading what other folks thought about the show.
Sting was REALLY trying last night. I think with David and Vinnie in the band he was inspired to put on a great show, which he certainly did! I believe part of the problem with the American Express crowd was that everybody feasted on free food & drink before the show. I've never seen so many people in my life walking around with french fries! It was a different type of seating for us fan clubbers last night in that instead of being close to the stage, our seats were in 2 luxury boxes which made you feel a bit isolated from the rest of the crowd. It staggers my mind as to how much money American Express shelled out to rent Sting, the venue & cover all the alcohol & food at this event. 'Houndss Of Winter' was a standout for me in the setlist, and it was a treat to see 'I'm So Happy' get dusted off again. Sting thanked American Express for the opportunity to get "his band" back together for the first time in a long while. I wish this band lineup were doing the gigs coming this summer. Thanks to our steller Sting.com team for making the night possible!
Thank you sincerely to Tina Dave and Wendy. Your names were toasted with gusto in the post-show bar party in an assembly of very grateful Sting.com pals, including Erin, the lovely Sheila from Chicago, Maria, Pam, Phyllis, Susan, Wanda, Marjorie, Mary, Luuk, Susie Sue, and the inimitable Carter. To you, Tina, Dave and Wendy, for your ongoing dedication to ensuring we have a great night of Sting music, sharing stories and memory, we remain grateful.
"Saw my lawyer...Mr Good News, he got me... free admission... & lux accomodations..."
Thanks to sir Johnny of Jumpstart, the great counselor from New York, I had a blast, last night. Huge thanks to you, John. I cannot wait to repay your kindness.
With the "hounds of winter, howling in the wind" outside, we met near the Prudential Center, had a moment to say hello to Shawn, and found our way to what seemed like the only open restaurant nearby called "Brick City."
So: would we have a pre-show burger? Would AMEX spring for food and drink for a crowd more than twice the size of Cleveland? Would there be a local guest sharing the stage? And finally, with nearly 20,000 seats, would we be off the stage, a few rows up, to the right of left?
Answers: Yes, yes, no, and no.
After a quick meal, we hit the box office, again running into Shawn, who said "Section 2"
I had forgotten that he scored these seats through some suit's recycle bin, and thought we'd be sitting near him...
Johnny's tickets said, "Section 139. " Sounded "high" and "far." And it didn't appear on the venue map.
"That's because it's a luxury box," said the usher.
I guess we can deal with that...
Our pace quickened, looking for our box, especially as we peered into the 120s and then 130s: Trays and trays stacked and covered in plastic. Steak. Sandwiches. Sushi. Snacks. Sodas. Stoli to Stella stacked to the nines. Each box had its own assortment of food and drink. What would we find in ours?
Zip. Empty and dry, but for a sink and some plastic cups.
"You were given a free ticket. You're not really thinking about COMPLAINING about this, are you? Did you pay in ADVANCE for any food, like the ACTUAL OWNERS of the luxury boxes did? And besides, you just ate dinner!" -- I said to myself. Count your blessings, bro... The other winners sat in box 103, directly across from us, where I met the great and powerful Carter. His box had similar accommodations, except I learned later that they were able to score some steak and deserts from the empty box next door(!) Can you imagine what must have happened to order food in a luxury box for a Sting concert -- and not show up? I hope that all is well with that unlucky crew...
A few minutes Luuk arrived, and we realized the box would end up being a golden ticket of sorts: unobstructed sightlines from wide, cushy leather seats. We'd be hanging together with other Sting.com-ers. Best of all: We'd be able to stand, sing, and dance, with plenty of room, and without any guilt or fear of people yelling us. This was huge, and added a great amount of enjoyment to the night. This is a close second to being in the front of a venue.
So we headed down to the free bar. That's where there was ample free food and free drink. We met up with Erin, Sheila, and some AMEX-ers.
As far as the music, the band was as expected: great, and seemed to inspire the best artistic side of Sting. Voice was in perfect form. "Bring on the Night" -- he sounded as good as he's ever sounded, as he hit all the high notes, the way he did when the movie came out. And a nice surprise was "Set Them Free" at a funkier, slower pace. Johnny and I led the backup-crowd during "Heavy Cloud, NO RAIN!" More than once, Johnny said, "There's only 2 boxes of fans that really know these songs..."
Shawn's description of the music captured the night's tunes better than I could.
The only down point for me I didn't get to "buy" Angie a free "Roxanne." I didn't even see the "specialty" drinks. Hope Angie got to enjoy one.
Johnny had a long drive so he bolted right away.
Lastly the remaining Sting.com-ers ended the night back at Brick City, where we shared a few drinks and good tales of our hero. Special thanks to Erin, who saved me a trip on NJ Transit and dropped me off on her way home.
Sting fix: complete.
Thanks again for the chance to connect with the best fans of the best artist through the best website run by the best trio.
(c) Tom, Tommie
Thank you very much to Sting.com, Tina, Dave, Wendy for another great night of Sting! Loved the show... can't add much more to what others have posted. I thought the band sounded great! I was the lucky one to get the setlist from the stage and just wanted to say that everything was played exactly as shown on the setlist, except 'Fragile', which was supposed to also be played, as the last song and this was not the case. Someone mentioned 'Desert Rose', but it was not on the setlist. Highlights for me were 'Heavy Cloud, No Rai'n and 'When We Dance'. I also agree that the audience was kind of blah, but again, most of them were probably not hardcore Sting fans, so, while not ideal, it was understandable. Also wanted to say it was great to meet other fan club members and swap Sting stories at the Brick City Grille after the show! Hope to see you all again at the next show!