We were psyched to tackle another stadium full of fans, but Mother Nature had other ideas. A downpour of biblical proportions pelted our bus as we pulled up to the venue. I dropped my belongings in the dressing room and wandered outside to assess the fluid situation. I shielded myself under an archway and watched as the storm unleashed its fury on thousands of unprotected humans. Rain poured, thunder clapped, lightning popped - but the hardcore faithful stood their ground. They wanted some Sting.
Whispers of a possible cancellation swirled backstage, but our opening act, Capital Inicial, elected to suck it up and brave the near-apocalyptic conditions. The group’s tenacity was admirable, but it came at a price as the overhead canopy ultimately proved no match for the heavy weather. After their set, I watched (and winced) in sympathy as the keyboardist lifted his synthesizer from its stand, triggering a cascade of rainwater from inside the now-ruined instrument. Sting’s brain trust huddled with concert promoters backstage as conditions continued to deteriorate. The powers that be discussed options that hovered somewhere between bad and worse. Should we pull the plug on our show? And if we did, which lucky person would get to tell 60,000 death-defying fans that Sting would not be performing? Needless to say, the waterlogged masses would not be pleased with such a development.
Brainstorming different ways to proceed, Sting offered to go out on stage, break the bad news, play one song by himself and say goodnight. That idea was shot down immediately. Our promoters recognized the potential wrath of the huge crowd and insisted - in the event of a cancellation - the band would have to be LONG gone before any official announcement was made. That seemed like a smart plan (in my unsolicited opinion). I had no desire to be trapped in the middle of a Brazilian riot, especially one that could be blamed on me. As the debate roiled, the storm mercifully blinked. The winds calmed and the rains subsided, allowing us to finally take the stage - two soggy hours behind schedule. But Sting came prepared. Good Boy Scout that he was, Sting had a note of apology (written in Portuguese) tucked in his pocket, just in case we needed to run for cover mid-song. In the end, we were able to deliver our entire set to the patient, wrinkly throng - although our last note wasn’t sounded until after 1am.
(c) Jeffrey Lee Campbell - Do Stand So Close: my improbable adventure as Sting's guitarist. Deeds Publishing.