Blue Turtles

New York City, NY, US
The Ritz Club
Sting preview at the Ritz...

As an American member of Outlandos I thought it my duty to report to you the special and great Sting concerts held in New York City on February 25, 26 and 27 at The Ritz Club in Greenwich Village.

I had the priviledge of seeing Sting on Monday the 25 performing songs from his forthcoming solo album. The shows were a well kept secret. It was announced on the radio on Thursday - tickets went on sale Saturday morning and the first show, which I attended, was Monday.

The show was supposed to start at 11.30pm but Sting kept everyone in suspense and came out at 12-midnight. With a screaming room of about 1500 people, Sting slowly walked to the microphone and sang 'Roxanne'. He had a short hair-cut and was wearing a loose red jacket with baggy pants. While he sang 'Roxanne' he was strumming a Fender Stratocaster guitar.

Among the other Police songs he played was 'Shadows In The Rain', 'I Burn For You', 'One World', 'Bring On The Night' and 'Message In A Bottle'. All the Police songs were done differently, either being a little 'jazzy' or 'bluesy', even a little funky. He also did a few songs by some jazz artistes and, of course, he did four songs from the new album he's working on.

He admitted being nervous but being the professional he is it didn't show at all. He played the guitar the entire night except for playing his standup bass for 'I Burn For You'. The musicians playing with Sting were drummer Omar Hakim (Weather Report) who was, to say the least, fantastic. On bass was Darryl Jones and on sax Branford Marsalis. He also had Kenny Kirkland on keyboards and two girl backup singers: Doleet McDonald and Janice Pendarvis.

Each musician was excellent and even Sting on guitar was good. But the best thing about Sting that night was his voice. I have never heard him sound better. He was unbelievable. The show was a very personal one because Sting was talking with the audience, getting their repsonse to the new songs he played and being so close to him made for more excitement.

At one point during the show Sting excused himself because he hadn't learned the words to one of his songs and he had to read them. He also had to use a drum machine for a new song because he said that was the only way he could do the song.

The highlight of the evening was Sting's encore. He finally came out after about five minutes and sat down by himself and sang 'Message In A Bottle.' The crowd joined in and sang the words with him. When it was over you could see tears in Sting's eyes. I myself had chills down my spine. The place was screaming and cheering and doing anything to state their approval. Never had any of them seen Sting so happy on stage, nor did anyone ever see him perform better.

It was a great night and when it ended at 1.30am New York was proud to say that it hosted Sting's first night playing solo.

In an interview held earlier that day, Sting assured the television audience that The Police were not breaking up. Long live Sting and The Police.

(c) Patrick M. Wolf for Outlandos/

With a new band and a handful of new songs, Sting offered the first glimpse of his latest project in three sold-out shows this week at the Ritz...

With a new band and a handful of new songs, Sting offered the first glimpse of his latest project in three sold-out shows this week at the Ritz. The crowds came to hear (and sing-along with) Sting's songs from the multimillion-selling records he has made with the Police; he obliged, while also testing the material for an album due this summer.

The band includes leading young jazz musicians - Branford Marsalis on saxophones and Darryl Jones on electric bass, both of whom have played with Miles Davis; Omar Hakim, formerly Weather Report's drummer, and the keyboardist Kenny Kirkland from Wynton Marsalis's quintet. Dollette Mcdonald and Janice Pendarvis sang backup while Sting, who played bass with the police, sang and played guitar for most of Monday's concert.

The group dug into the rhythms on such Police songs as 'One World', 'Driven To Tears' and 'When The World Is Running Down'; Mr. Kirkland's organ and Mr. Marsalis's saxophone made explicit the Police's hints of reggae, ska and James Brown funk.Sting's new songs sounded rougher but extremely promising; he is clearly eager to move outside the Police's light, international groove. He sang a blues and a soul song, featuring his own lead guitar and Mr. Marsalis's down-home tenor saxophone, and some fine new hybrids.

A tune about a vampire crossed Kurt Weill-ish cabaret with a hint of mardis-gras. A sober song about the British coal strike juxtaposed a tinkling, minimalistic pattern with a rising melody; Mr. Marsalis played delicate, Wayne Shorter-influenced counterpoint, while Mr. Hakim added tiny explosions on electronic drums.The most striking song was 'I Burn For You', from Sting's soundtrack music for 'Brimstone and Treacle'. it opened with a quiet, steady-state melodic pattern, as Sting and Mr. Marsalis traded phrases of melody, reedy saxophone echoing reedy voice.

In the next five minutes, the song crescendoed seamlessly - like a Weather Report composition - until the whole band was knocking out a driving, danceable bass line.

(c) The New York Times by Jon Pareles