Brand New Day

Gainesville, FL, US
Stephen O'Connell Centerwith Sophie B. Hawkins
Fun in the Sunshine State...

I am still smiling a week later just thinking about the experience I had in Gainesville, Florida at the Sting concert. I will never forget that night of nights. I still hear Sting singing in my mind. His voice, his music, his presence brought a crowd of about 6,300 all together in such a positive, joyful sound. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Only a month ago when I attended the premiere of Emperor's New Groove I was able to meet Doreen Miller and Sue Lubin. I learned that they had flown in from New York and New Jersey to attend. I thought that it seemed so overboard to fly so far even though I was a huge Sting fan myself. Now just a month later, I've gladly flown from California to Florida to hear him sing. It was worth much more than the money I paid to go. I am just hoping for another opportunity to do it again.

I arrived at the University of Florida, Gainesville, about 1:30 P.M. I wanted to see the exact location of the arena. To my surprise the doors were unlocked so I entered, trying to carry off an air of authority as if that's where I should be. I saw the crew setting up the stage and checking the sound system. I thought I was there for the soundcheck and I was so excited. I had been wishing to be able to listen to Sting's soundcheck. But no, I was told that it wouldn't be until 4:00 or 5:00 and that the building security would permit no one to stay for that.

I returned about 5:45 even though the concert was scheduled for 8:00. I met Sue and her husband, Eric there about 6:15 or so. I had been carrying a gift for Trudie and Sting since the Leno show which I had attended the previous Monday in Burbank, Calif. I hoped somehow to get the gift to him, not necessarily personally. The security repeatedly refused my request.

About 7:15 the doors opened and everyone entered. The seating was all prearranged so there was no confusion. It was so relaxed and congenial as all Sting's concerts seem to be. Thanks to a tremendous crew member, Tam, I was able to have my gift delivered to Sting. Thank you Tam so much!

About 8:00 Sophie B. Hawkins began her set. Unfortunately no one had introduced her, so at first she didn't get the respect she deserved. But as she sang everyone saw and heard that she was great. She put her heart into her performance and it was very, good.
Then, about 9:15 here he comes! The man we came to see! I must say the security there was fabulous. They permitted us to really enjoy Sting the way we should. Sue and I had 4th row tickets. We were able to go right up next to the stage with the others in the front rows and dance the whole time. I will never forget this experience - never! To be there singing along with Jason Rebello as he looks at me while playing and we are singing along with Sting. To have Chris Botti come right in front of us shaking our hands after a great solo. To sing along with Kipper, noticing he didn't need to encourage the people to clap as much as I'd seen him do previously. I only saw Dominic a little because he was on the other side of the stage most of the time.

One advantage of having seats further back is that you can see the entire band the whole time. Sting came over and played right in front of us, shaking as many hands as he could. A little girl was in the crowd dancing. She was about 7 years old. Someone picked her up at one point and Sting stopped and especially shook her hand. Later, when she was lifted up, he kissed her hand. Oh, It was just wonderful. Everything! We all had such a great time with Sting. He made everyone get involved because we love all his songs and love to be allowed to sing them and dance with him.

Sting is magic. He had the whole room of 6,300 under his spell and what a great spell it was - and is. Everyone singing and dancing the whole time!

I am so thankful for Sting, for his band, for Outlandos, for my friends in Outlandos, especially for Wendy and Dave. We all love Sting and his music so much!! This was a night I will never forget.

(c) Beverly Williford for

Sting rocks 6,300 fans at O'Dome...

More than 25 years into a celebrated career, Sting has become one of rock's elder statesmen, and his music - as heard Friday night in the O'Connell Center - has developed accordingly.

The Gainesville concert, a warm-up to Sting's Sunday gig at the Super Bowl in Tampa, was nothing if not perfectly executed. With a six-man band, Sting performed many of his hits with professional but somewhat clinical precision, including 'Fields of Gold', 'If You Love Someone, Set Them Free' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'.

For Sting, however, artistic maturation is a double-edged sword; his newer songs, while arranged with intricate rhythms and complicated jazz chords, lack the punch - and spirit - of the material he wrote many years ago.

Although the audience of 6,300 was enthusiastic throughout, their strongest ardor was reserved - quite deservedly - for Sting's old Police-age chestnuts 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Roxanne'.

The concert began with a brief but electrifying set from New York singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins. Playing guitar, banjo and African drum, Hawkins - backed by a solid four-piece band - performed her best-known songs, including, 'Lose Your Way' and 'Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover'. Hawkins' closer was a moody and erotically charged version of Bob Dylan's 'I Want You'.

(c) The Gainesville Sun by Bill DeYoung