Broken Music

PSU University Park, PA, US
Bryce Jordan Centerwith Phantom Planet
Backstage with Sting...

I was fortunate enough to meet Sting when the 'Broken Music Tour' came to State College, PA in April 2005, and I won a contest to attend a meet and greet before the show. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled! Not only was he coming to my little college town, I was going backstage!

I had actually planned what I wanted to say - good thing, because when he saw my camera, offered to take a picture with me, and came right over and put his arm around my shoulders, I *know* I lost several hundred brain cells! Still, I was glad I had something to say. I said, ''While I have your ear... are you familiar with the song 'What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life' by Michel Legrand?'', and he replied, ''Yes, yes I am.'' To which I said, ''I would love to hear you sing it, because you have the perfect voice for that song.'' and he said (this is the important part), ''I will - I'll sing it for you.'' I think I mumbled something about my name being Holly in case he wanted to dedicate it to me (yeah, right), but of course, by then, my remaining brain cells were gone.

Imagine, then, how I felt when I read your news item about Chris Botti's duet album!! My heart was pounding so hard, my chest hurt!! What a thrill!!! Even if he had planned to sing this song for this album *years* ago, DON'T TELL ME!!!! I want to believe that he did, indeed, sing it for me!!!

Holly Murdoch for

Sting relives past, Phantom Planet whirls into future

On ''The Broken Music Tour,'' superstar Sting told fans at the Bryce Jordan Center he was trying to get back to his roots, to the origins of his lifetime of musical achievement. Consider them found, Mr. Sting.

Forsaking the huge orchestras and melodrama of his solo work and revisiting (for the most part) classics by the Police, Sting trimmed the fat and left little but the barest essentials at his performance Tuesday night at the Jordan Center. Backed by a three-piece rock band, Sting (on bass guitar) cut the figure of a dashing rock star, complete with slicked-back hair and pinstripes.

Bursting from the gate with 'Message in a Bottle', the lean quartet played with precision and energy.

Sting was in a jovial mood as he laughed and joked with the receptive (though a little low-key) crowd.

Midway through, the show was a little slow, with Sting pulling out several mellow rarities and lesser-known solo works. An acoustic version of 'Fields of Gold' brought the quiet crowd back to life, though, and his version of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life' was a wonderful interpretation. Amped-up versions of 'King of Pain' and 'Roxanne' found the crowd singing along.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was opener Phantom Planet. The California quartet (best known for the theme song to Fox's ''The O.C.'') was lively, raw and rowdy.

Though the arena was only half-full for the set, lead singer Alex Greenwald played up the band's opening status. Handing off Greenwald's tambourine to a girl in the audience, joking about the poverty of an opening band and dancing around the stage, Phantom Planet gave the audience an excellent 30-minute set, despite technical problems galore.

A band definitely on the rise, Phantom Planet performed with a youthful disregard for the career opportunity that an opening slot for Sting could provide; they knocked over microphone stands and flung guitars with rock and roll abandon that was fresh, energized and needed in an arena that was 90 percent middle-aged.

After a solid encore of 'Every Breath You Take', Sting brought Phantom Planet back on stage for an eight-person rock fest of beautiful noise and wanton distortion. If this concert was Sting's walk down memory lane, perhaps a lengthier visit to his past would do him, and his career, well.

(c) Centre Daily Times by Dennis Fallon

Police not needed for this 'Sting'...

Arts reporters don't usually get to cover ''Police'' stories. But last night at the Bryce Jordan Center, there was a ''Sting'' operation.

Bad puns aside, the singer/bassist and ex-Police chief belted out over 90 minutes of hits and obscure relics from his multi-decade career for a moderate, noticeably older State College crowd. Even though most of Sting's expected singles made their predictable appearances, the Broken Music Tour brought some unexpectedly high energy and unpredictable twists to the BJC stage, as promised.

Warm-up band Phantom Planet wasted no time demonstrating why someone, possibly Sting himself, decided it would be a good opening act.

The group's got the whole ''opening'' thing down perfectly, whether it's providing opening music for a major rock show or for a major network television program.

The open air of the arena emphasized the group's open sound and open chords during songs such as 'Making a Killing' and the semi-hit 'Lonely Day'. Phantom Planet even opened itself up to some crowd participation during the latter tune, allowing one lucky female fan to play the tambourine for half of it.

''This next song you may or may not have heard on the TV,'' lead singer Alexander Greenwald said before closing the set with 'California'. The crowd reaction was surprisingly indifferent, however; this was more of a Dallas crowd than an OC one.

Somewhere backstage, others were wondering where the excitement was, as well. After a short break, the lights went down on the bare-bones stage setup, and a familiar voice filled the Center with its own take on the audience response.

''You're very quiet out there,'' Sting said, before drummer Josh Freese shattered the tension with eight snare drum hits that made up the introduction to 'Message In a Bottle'. Along with other Police classics such as 'Demolition Man' and 'Synchronicity II', the song proved early in the set that the ''raw energy'' hype was to be believed.

Gordon, as his close acquaintances might refer to him, was in top form, his still pleasant-sounding voice turned up loud and clear in the mix. He looked classy and professional, but was not afraid to jump around a bit at the end of some songs. This is a man that is not past his prime and not faking it.

When Sting brought things down a bit with some of his solo compositions, starting with the early '90s adult contemporary classic, 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', there was an obvious difference in the show's liveliness. Nevertheless, the slower songs, most notably the absolutely beautiful 'Fields of Gold', provided some peaceful moments, at which point several audience members probably gazed wistfully into the eyes of their nearby loved ones.

But like all good cops, Sting and his bandmates exercised an expertise in crowd control, and it wasn't too long before they had the audience up again for a dead-on Police impersonation with the semi-obscure 'Driven to Tears'. Now, this wasn't really The Police (though it's probably the closest we'll ever get), so the group provided some creative arrangements with 'Invisible Sun', 'King of Pain' and an extended, reggae-heavy middle section to the crowd favorite, 'Roxanne'.

After 80 solid minutes of music, Sting's voice was still functioning well for the show's first encore, which began with 'Next To You', the first song from Sting's first album with The Police and the energetic high point of the night.

And just as he had probably picked the opener, Sting also picked the most appropriate closer. Even though the band came back out for a short, fun second encore after it, 'Every Breath You Take' will always be the perfect ending to a Sting concert - or the semester, or the school year, or the entire college career or anything.

(c) The Collegian by Paul Weinstein