The hottest ticket in London...
The hottest ticket in London on the evening of Friday September 12 was undoubtedly for Sting's BBC radio concert recorded at London's Mermaid Theatre on the banks of the River Thames. This was the first opportunity to hear the bulk of the songs from 'Sacred Love' live on stage, and Sting and band delivered in style playing all of the new album except for 'Stolen Car' and 'Book of My Life'.
The evening got off to a magical start with Sting and Jason taking the stage to a huge ovation before launching into a reworking of 'Walking On The Moon', with just vocals and piano in a cool, loose jazzy style. Midway through the song, Sting introduced the rest of the band members as they joined him on stage to finish the song: Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Rhani Krija (percussion), Dominic Miller (guitar), Kipper (keyboards) and Joy Rose and Donna Gardier-Elliot (backing vocals).
Sting in baggy, tattered denims and a khaki tee-shirt and sporting spiky hair and blond/grey beard appeared in a very relaxed mood despite admitting he was nervous explaining that he and the band were still finding their way with the new songs and to expect mistakes. Sting would not be making any of course, but he singled out Kipper as a potential culprit and joked that if a mistake was made there would be a short show trial and he would deliver the necessary caning at the front of the stage.
Egged on by shouts of encouragement from young Giacomo who was sitting in the audience with Trudie and other family members, Sting took his tiny Spanish acoustic guitar from Danny Quatrochi, introduced his new single 'Send Your Love' and treated us to the album version of the song complete with additional first verse.
Before introducing Inside, Sting explained how the song's roots could be traced back to the aftermath of September 11, two years ago when he felt the need to write a song about the strength and hope presented by love. This is a great song, building to an unforgettable climax and what else, but a Sting jump. Get your cameras ready for this one during the tour!
Sting dedicated 'Dead Man's Rope' to his friend and travelling companion of 25 years, Kim Turner, who died earlier this year, and then Joy Rose stood in for Mary J. Blige on 'Whenever I Say Your Name' and did a wonderful job. In fact, she did a wonderful job twice, as Sting owned up at the end of the first performance to making a mistake with his lyrics, and so the song was performed for a second time for the benefit of the radio broadcast.
'Forget About The Future' was very funky with Jason and Kipper filling in for the lack of trumpet and trombone which features on the album version and 'This War' was as good as anticipated with Dominic's guitar coming right to the fore. Sting joked, ''I won't tell you what this song is about as they may then want their CBE back!''
Breaking from the new material, the band played 'Fields of Gold' which Sting dedicated to Johnny Cash who had died earlier that day.
A combination of a late start to the show and having to perform 'Whenever I Say Your Name' twice sadly meant a detour from the planned set list as 'Mad About You' and 'Book Of My Life' were both omitted, and the band moved instead into 'Never Coming Home'. This was another highlight of the evening with Vinnie's drumming adding some spice and Sting and Jason having a great time taking Jason's piano solo and jamming it into 'When The World is Running Down' (minus the lyrics).
The band then departed to wild applause and a standing ovation before returning for 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and a version of 'Every Breath You Take' that had everyone, including Trudie and the family singing along enthusiastically. There was still time to call back Sting for a final encore of 'Fragile' to round the evening off before he called the band to the front of the tiny stage to say goodnight and shake hands with everyone in the first few rows.
It was wonderful to hear so many new songs from 'Sacred Love' as there must have been a temptation to play more of the established hits for a radio concert, so everyone involved deserves great credit for the song selection. Hearing the songs 'live' so early in their life before they become polished through repeated performance is an experience that simply should not be missed. After the Mermaid show, our already high anticipation of the forthcoming concert in Paris has been notched up even higher!
(c) Dave & Wendy for Sting.com