Sting's Radio 1 concert in London...
After his excellent performance on Simon Mayo's Radio 1 show in November 1994 Sting was invited to come back as Simon's guest again. However, instead of Sting playing a few acoustic numbers, a mini concert was planned with Sting receiving backing from the full band. Tickets for the concert were given out as prizes on the show during the weeks leading up to the date.
The tickets themselves were nothing special, just large red counterfoils with details of time and venue but with these mundane pieces of paper came special plastic 'tour laminates' to clip to our jackets, also with details of the concert on one side but with a new black and white picture of Sting on the reverse.
I arrived at the BBC building at 10.15am and the doors were eventually opened at 11.15. The theatre was quite small and all seated. There were about 18 seats in each row which gave 18 of us a chance to be right in the front! The stage was quite small too, but 'comfortable' Simon Mayo appeared a few minutes before midday to 'warm-up' the audience, i.e. he wanted to make sure we would make enough noise when Sting appeared. After describing our first cheer as "crap", we certainly raised the volume for the future attempts!
The band then took their places: Dominic Miller on guitar, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and Kenny Kirkland on keyboards. There were four backing singers, two male and two female and a small horn section consisting of a trumpeter and saxophonist. They were all dressed very casually. Simon Mayo then introduced Sting in a very grand way... and on strode Sting in a very thin black and white patterned shirt, black jeans a brown boots. His hair was cropped short and his shirt was wide open... he was very much the cool rock star.
Sting was obviously not used to such an early concert as his opening words were: "Thank You. What time is it? Let's go!"
At this point the band launched into 'Synchronicity II' loud and rocky as usual. The horn section was used throughout the song and indeed throughout the whole concert, sparingly yet effective. As soon as the song finished the now famous spray appeared, to soothe Sting's throat. It seems the rehearsals and the promotion was begining to take their toll. Sting restrained himself a little for the remainder of the set, but not too much. It was the only time he sprayed his throat - other lubrication was provided by 'Highland Spring Water.'
Following 'Synchronicity II' came 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' where Sting proved true to form by forgetting the first line! Then almost immediately came 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', which I think was probably the best song of the set. It was the new arrangement similar to the version performed at the 1995 Japanese concerts. and mixed elements of the new 'Brothers Of Rhythm' remix, the version on the 1991 tour and the original - absolutely great!
The backing singers were prominent on this track and I must say that they were very good. I'm not too keen on backing singers, but these were very good, again only used sparingly.
Then 'Seven Days' was introduced with some great guitar from Dominic, followed by 'Englishman In New York' which featured excellent keyboard work from Kenny, but surprisingly no saxophone. Then came the now familiar opening to the new single, 'Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot'. The edited version was performed and the extended outro was particularly good. That completed the Radio-1 broadcast. However, it was not the end for all the fans in the audience at the theatre!
We're gonna do some more. There's no point in getting up if you're not gonna sing...! This is called 'This Cowboy Song..." and Sting and band broke into a rare live performance. Sting didn't sing in his high voice for this, to save his vocal chords I guess, and about halfway through the song was cut short to be replaced with thumping bass line of 'When The World Is Running Down...' What a great version. Kenny Kirkland was predictably superb and Vinnie threatened to take the song onto overdrive with a powerful performance. The horns were also effective. Then it was all over. There wasn't really time for anymore. Sting and band were off to record a live set for the UK TV programme 'The White Room.'
Everyone went away slightly dazed but more than satisfied!
(c) Darren Gray for Outlandos/Sting.com