Brand New Day

Dublin, IE
The Pointwith Juliet Turner
Sting is annoying...

Sting is annoying. Annoyingly fit, annoyingly youthful, annoying talented, annoyingly rich and annoyingly smug. Twenty Four years on since 'Roxanne' and he's going stronger than ever.

From my vantage point on the balcony of the Point Depot, I was struck by the mass reflection from the shiny domes below. When Sting started off on his solo career I'm sure the majority of those domes were covered with hair, but no longer. That's his audience. Thirty five plus, bald and pot-bellied, but when they see Sting on stage, they see themselves as they want to be. Baggy trousered, washboard stomached and full of zest and lebenslust.

Apart from one dancing gentleman in a sleeveless red puffa jacket (I know, why do you think I'm mentioning it), the audience in the all-seater gig kept their ever expanding bums glued to the pews throughout. Not until Sting refused to come back on for an encore unless they stood, did they rise to their hush puppied feet and do their first bit of exercise since they parked their Nissan Primeras to walk from the car park.

But what about the music? You know Sting's songs. Wonderfully wordy, well meaning, well structured and more polished than Shiny Dome's crown.

He delivered everything you would expect and all of it technically faultless. His latest long playing record featured heavily, which as you'd expect sounds remarkably similar to just about everything he's done for the past ten years.

His earlier solo stuff, 'Englishman in New York', 'Fields of Gold' etc were very well received. But as per all these former front men, it was the songs from his Police days that nearly, very nearly had Mr. and Mrs. Plump on their feet. But he also went and made the classic mistake of all former front men who are forced by popular demand to sing songs from their former band days. He turned his own classics into cabaret. 'Roxanne' went from a pleading love song into a free range jazz improv explosion. Everyone's favourite 'Every Breath You Take' came out at 78rpm; he couldn't wait to finish it.

Sting also totally rejigged 'Message in a Bottle', but this worked. It was just him and his classical guitar and then you truly got to see what a wonderfully talented musician this man is.

After two encores. Mr. and Mrs. Middle Ireland, not wanting to push it, left as happy as pigs in the proverbial. Many of them didn't even wait for the encores. (Avoid the traffic, get home to the babysitter). But, they're in their offices and banks today feeling totally elated. Sting speaks to them. ''How fragile we are'' Mmmmmmm.

For your information, Sting spoke to us twice. Once to apologise to his support act Juliet Turner for having to play during what he said sounded like the 1916 rising. It was in fact Dublin's Skyfest fireworks display.

The second time he spoke was in response to a heckle. He was asked if he was still into tantric sex. He said he'd given it up, but he and his wife had taken up tantric shopping instead, which he explained, is when you go shopping for five hours and buy nothing. Oh, how we of the receding hairline laughed.

(c) by Ian Noctor

Masterclass in musical styles...

If a Sting concert is like a masterclass in musical styles (lashings of pop, jazz, rock, intricate polyrhythms and noodlings of the most cerebral kind), then it's also a supremely dull experience. While there's little doubt that at various points in his post Police career Sting has hit the nail on the head in pop terms (If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Fields Of Gold), it's equally true that a degree of brazen pomposity pervades. The song titles alone give away the game: 'Love Is The Seventh Wave', 'Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot', 'The Soul Cages'. Happy loving couples' pop music has rarely come across so sterile.

The full house responded respectfully to Sting's soulsearching, but perked up considerably whenever he chose to cherry-pick a Police song. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' (and other Police hits peppered throughout the set) came as breathers to the faux-Zen material. They were concise, tuneful and about the closest approximation of pure dynamic there was all night.

It's a truism that expert efficiency and consummate professionalism in specifically pop/rock/jazz music more often than not leads to a hardening of the arteries that route joy, expressiveness and recognisable spontaneity. It's therefore a pity that this concert was mostly dead from the neck down, but very much alive (and thinking far too much) from the neck up.

(c) The Irish Times by Tony Clayton Lea

Sting leaves the audience buzzing...

As Dublin's St Patrick weekend fireworks exploded outside on the quays, Sting opened with the first track of the album, 'A Thousand Years'. Augmented with floaty keyboard chords and programmed rum tracks, he managed to drown out what he described as 'the Easter Rising outside'.

The ex-Police vocalist and guitarist was in good form as he belted out new songs taken from his latest album 'Brand New Day' and classics from 'Ten Summoner's Tales', 'Fields Of Gold' and 'Mercury Falling'. Playing to a rather reserved bunch, he managed to work the crowd up for chorused responses in 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take'.

Clearly finding all that Tantric exercising beneficial, Sting had a spring in his tep as he danced, rocked and strummed his way ythrough 25 numbers. He played solidly for two hours only stopping once to say how great it was to be playing Dublin which was followed by the usual whoops of joy.

In what has been described as his most stylistically integrated album, 'Brand New Day', Sting wooed the crowd with its latest offerings in world-beats, bossa nova; break beats and independent country. Throwing in the old hits and a bit of impressive guitar playing, he had the audience well and truly smitten by the end of the night.

Two encores and a message or two in the bottle later, it was blatantly obvious that Sting still has was it takes.

(c) The Dublin Evening Herald by Rebecca Kelly