The Last Ship...
25 songs in 225 minutes, not a bad start for the run of benefit shows entitled “An Evening With Sting – Live at The Public Theater”! Incredibly, fifteen musicians would squeeze into the tiny space where magic was to be witnessed.
The fifteen musicians included the amazing Rob Mathes (I actually want to see this show again just so I can watch his creative genius at work) and all the musicians who have appeared on the various TV shows along with the addition of the lovely Jo Lawry who took the vocals to play the parts of Meg and Peggy. Another wonderful surprise was the amount of lead vocal that Jimmy Nail performed. To me, Jimmy IS The Last Ship!
The lights dimmed just after 8pm and, in darkness, the musicians appeared. Kathryn Tickell played the intro to ‘Island of Souls’ and Sting entered the auditorium from a different angle, a nice surprise as we were looking towards the stage area expecting to see him appear next.
From ‘Island of Souls’, the band launched into ‘The Last Ship’. Afterwards, Sting chatted with the audience. In fact, he provided a narrative throughout the entire evening, explaining the background to the songs, the characters and the storyline.
There was a lot of humour during the night. During 'Shipyard,' Jimmy Nail played his character, Jackie White, plus the character of Davy Harrison who “likes a drink or two”. Sting took the roles of Adrian Sanderson, a self confessed pompous, arrogant intellectual and also the role of Tommy Thompson the shop steward. As if to provide a visual aid to assist us, he donned a black woolly hat and glasses (looking rather Benny Hill like). Jo Lawry took the role of Jackie’s wife.
Songs we were treated to that are not on the CD (Deluxe) included ‘What Say You Meg’, the replacement in the theater production for ‘Practical Arrangement’. Sting explained that he loves "Practical Arrangement," but the scriptwriters pulled the plug on it, claiming that the play “can’t stand still for three minutes while you express one emotion”. Andy (Finch, of course!) and I have debated this a lot. I much prefer "What Say You Meg" in the context of the play. I never believed the characters in "Practical Arrangement" (the writers agree, before the guy even sings a note, he’s lost the girl – that apparently isn’t a good thing in a play). He’s been replaced by a younger, more virile man who, in my opinion, is a genuine rival for Gideon. Meg will like him. I like him. Andy (and Sting) are of a different opinion, believing it to be a better song. Maybe it is, but I gotta agree with the scriptwriters on this one; in the context of the play, "What Say You Meg" wins for me!
Other songs not featuring on the album were ‘The Big Steamer’. This was sung by The Wilson Family and got us thinking about our absent friend Carter for some reason.
The final few remaining (previously unheard) songs were rather more sombrely entitled ‘O’Brian’s Hymn’ and ‘Show Some Respect’, relating to some sad news shared between the characters.
By far the biggest cheers of the night went to ‘Jock The Singing Welder’, when Sting channelled his inner Elvis Presley and rocked those hips! Afterwards he was heard to say “I enjoyed the f**k out of that”.
Another debut we were treated to tonight was Sting’s first ever public performance of the spoons during ‘Sky Hooks And Tartan Paint’.
In addition to all the new songs from The Last Ship, we were treated to 3 back catalogue songs - ‘When We Dance’, ‘Ghost Story’ and, as the evening’s encore, ‘All This Time’.
The performance area was barely wide enough for all 15 musicians to take a bow at the end of the show. They stretched from Row A to Row A. I’m thinking of joining them on Tuesday night!
Andy's currently nursing a broken heart after noticing Jo wearing an engagement ring. That’s another one crossed off his list!
note. It was lovely to see the three
familiar names of Tina, Dave and Wendy in the Special Thanks section of the programme. It would seem you guys are valued all