Sting at WPLJ's birthday bash...
When we learned that the new album and DVD would be released in the late fall, and that Sting had plans to continue with a short tour to promote the new album, I set my sights on two special concerts when the December shows were officially announced. One was in New York - at the Beacon Theater, where this two year plus journey began for me in November of 1999, and the final show in Las Vegas. Quickly checking my calendar, work obligations and remaining vacation time, I slotted in those dates anxiously awaiting the an nouncement of the dates tickets would go on sale. The Las Vegas show went on sale and, ticket purchased, I began preparing for that one trip. At that point, ticket sales were still to be announced for the show at The Beacon Theater in New York City.
I have a fairly long drive to and from work each day and I often listen to the radio during my travels. For the most part, WPLJ is usually my station of choice. In October, the DJ's began promoting the WPLJ 30th Birthday Bash. A special guest was to perform at the birthday party, but no further details were given at that time. As the days and weeks went on, and I saw no information on the Sting.com website about ticket sales for the Beacon show, I put two and two together and I wondered whether Sting might actually be that special guest at the show.
At the end of October, Sting was to hold a special mini-concert in Bryant Park in New York, in part, to bring some closure to the abbreviated and emotional events that took place on September 11th. I was fortunate enough to be at that Bryant Park concert as well, thanks to Outlandos. The day before the Bryant Park show, Sting appeared as a guest on WPLJ's morning program with Scott Shannon and Todd Pettingill and he announced that in fact, he would be the special guest at the birthday bash at the Beacon on December 6. It was clear then that there would be no ticket sales for this show and that the attendees would be winners of radio contests being held over the next month. At that time, the daily call-ins began, along with web contest entries, newspaper entries - whatever tool was available,
I took advantage and entered.
With cellphone ready for every prompt of a call in, speed-dialing - I'd try to connect with WPLJ to try to win tickets for this show, risking life and limb at every curve in the road. I was sure I would end up in the canal one day as I hit the recall and resend button numerous times, until it was clear that a winner for that pair of tickets had been chosen. This saga continued for about a month. My friend Joni and I would call each other to find out how well or poorly we had done that day - caller 60 - out of 25, caller 9, caller 2, or nothing at all. To cut to the chase - at the point of giving up a chance of winning tickets, it was the last weekend before the show, and on this weekend they were giving away front row seats. Sure - like I have any chance at all of winning with the millions
of callers speed dialing over this weekend!
That Sunday, I was home doing some much needed closet cleaning and as every prompt came on the radio, I again risked life and limb tripping over shoes and plastic bags to get to the phones. I had both my regular phone and cell phone to each ear and actually became quite adept at hitting the redial buttons on both phones. Nothing! Couldn't get through the entire day. In our usual routine, Joni and I would connect 'How'd you do?' On that particular day, Joni fared better than I, actually getting through to the radio station three times - but not as a winner. Towards the end of the day, when it was apparent that only a few remaining pairs of front row tickets were to be given away, I began losing hope. It was December 2nd and the concert was on December 6th. At about 6:30 p.m., we had another
shot. In the middle of my housework, now bored with this entire escapade, I reached for only one phone to call in - busy. Okay, just one more try... again, just once more. Alright, this is the last try - and the phone began to ring through. I was sure that if anyone answered at all I would be told ''we have a winner''. I let it ring, sure that way too much time had passed and then, a woman answered the phone ''PLJ!'' I responded, with what I'm sure showed the signs of utter defeat in my voice - ''Oh! I'm calling about the Sting tickets''.
''You're the winner!'' was her reply. ''WHAT? Don't say that to me unless you're serious! Really, you have no idea'', was all I could get out at that point. She asked me ''How old are you?'' Too old. ''What's your name?'' ''Doreen'' - ''Last name?'' ''Uh - oh, Miller''. Forget the rest - I had no idea what I was saying as I was in complete shock. We continued discussing the necessary details and I heard my call-waiting signal, but did not answer. I knew it was Joni calling to tell me she had no luck getting through. At the end of the call, when business was finished, I asked my new best friend at PLJ - ''These are not front row seats, are they?'' Her reply, ''Oh yes dear, you just won two front row tickets''. I could not believe my extraordinary luck. I have never won anything in my life
and now I had won two front row tickets to a Sting concert. I quickly called Joni - not even checking her message (she was caller 19 and I was lucky caller 25). ''Sit down'' was all said. ''No, Dor - you didn't win, did you?'' Yep! We're going to the show - front row. How amazing is that?
We made our last minute plans for the day of the show and on Thursday met early in the city for a full day of activities. We arrived early at the box office to collect the tickets. I was sure that there had been a terrible mistake and that I'd hear, ''Doreen Who?'' Didn't happen. It was real, and I was handed my tickets for the front row. We entered the theater early, not wanting to miss a beat. Joni wanted to try to thank Scott and Todd for holding her together that day in September and she had the chance as both DJ's were milling about in the aisle near our seats. When Joni went up to Scott Shannon to say hello, he said ''Glad you could come, and I see you brought Martha Stewart with you (me-HA!)''.
As the crowd began to enter the theater, I saw a few Outlandos who congratulated me on my good luck and soon after, Scott and Todd took the stage and began the show, introducing a number of disc jockeys and other radio personalities in the audience. Birthday ceremonies completed, Sting was introduced.
It seemed to me that Sting just bolted on to the stage - very animated and looking very happy. 'If You Love Somebody' was the first song and a film crew was nearby to capture this one song. We were told earlier by the cameraman that they would only be bothering us for this one song. I later learned that this would be part of ABC's 2002 program.
Being in the front row at the Beacon is like being on stage. Sting and Dominic visited our side a few times and we were so close and the lights overhead so bright, that we couldn't see their faces - just hands and guitars. Those in the first few rows near us were extremely enthusiastic. We were literally pinned to the stage and tossed off balance a few times by the growing crowd behind us. At one point, at least a dozen hands grew from my head and shoulders and I saw one of those hands groping Dominic's leg. He began laughing and I just shook and hung my head in disbelief. As he finished a solo, I was sure the pick he was about to toss was going to fall near me - great! Those dozen hands again grew from my head and I pulled my hand back for fear I'd lose it. A lone hand stretched across the
stage to capture the prize and, it wasn't mine.
The show was terrific from my close vantage point. 'Roxanne' - again a bit different - an extended middle, with that reggae pulse that makes me crazy; 'Bring on the Night'/'When the World is Running Down' had everyone on their feet leading us into the encore for the crowd pleasers, 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Every Breath You Take'. We found one little break in the show pretty funny. The Birthday Bash program contained a Sting IQ. test and when Sting was preparing to introduce the band, he decided to test them on their knowledge of his past and accomplishments. Did you know that Sting was a lapdancer before his full-time music career? Obviously, the correct answer is teacher - but regardless of the answer given by the band mates - the master would respond, ''Correct'' or ''Right''
or no reaction, to our complete amusement.
So, another wonderful show and in a week, we'd be off to see the final show in Las Vegas. It's been a wonderful two plus years - Grammy's, an Oscar nomination - maybe two, a Star on Hollywood Boulevard, humanitarian and other awards, a new live record and DVD and, the defining concert in Italy on September 11th. Thank you Sting - for such wonderful music, some great times, the incredible memories and new friends that I've made during this tour. God bless you and, as you say, ''We'll see you again!'' Hopefully, very soon.
(c) Doreen Miller for Outlandos/Sting.com
Front row at WPLJ's Beacon Theatrer party...
On November 17, 1999, my best friend Doreen and I saw Sting at the Beacon Theater - the first show we saw together on the 'Brand New Day' Tour. I have been a Sting fan for a long time, 20 or so years, I have seen the Police and Sting on tour in years past, but that was usually just a show here and there. This tour has been very different for me, I've been lucky to attend a good number of shows and special events in comparison to past years, As a result, I've met many fans and made some new friends through Outlandos and the experiences have been wonderful, emotional and personally rewarding. So when I heard that there would be another show at the Beacon on December 6, I knew this was a show that Doreen and I would plan to attend. I kept waiting to hear when tickets would be going on sale,
but no word. In October, WPLJ, a New York radio station that I listen to everyday, announced that they were having a special 30th birthday celebration in December and there would be one special musical guest at the show. I didn't figure it out, but Doreen thought Sting might be the special guest for the WPLJ show and that's why a ticket sale date was not announced.
In October, Sting performed at a short concert in Bryant Park, in conjunction with Microsoft. A group of Outlandos, myself included, were at the Bryant Park show. While in town, Sting was on the morning show at WPLJ and the announcement was made that he was the special guest for their birthday celebration at the Beacon, Tickets would not be going on sale, All tickets for the show were to be given away by the radio station. When I heard this, my hopes of going to the Beacon were dashed. I have never won anything in my life and didn't think my luck would change now. But I had to try. Everyday on my way to and from work, at lunchtime, whenever I could, I would listen to the radio and call in trying to win a pair of tickets. One for me, one for Doreen, My husband wanted to go, but he understood
that if I won tickets, it would be Doreen and I. Every show and Sting event on this tour that I have been to has been with her and some because of her, If one of us were lucky enough to win, we would go together, hands down.
It was the weekend before the show and frankly, I didn't have much hope left that this was going to happen. The station was giving away front row seats which would make it even harder. But we both tried all weekend. It was Sunday night and I had pretty much given up. It was about 6:30 and this was probably going to be the last call in to win. The winner was caller 25. I was caller 19 and as they say, close - but no cigar. So as we were doing all day, I called Doreen to see if she got through. I got her voicemail and figured she was still hitting the redial button. As I was leaving a message, my other phone was ringing. I know it's her. I answer the phone wanting to tell her how close I was caller 19, but before I could say anything but hello, she says ''Are you sitting down?'' My heart begins
She won the tickets. Not just tickets - FRONT ROW TICKETS! And she was taking me. I was going to be at a Sting concert in the front row, I have never sat in the front row at a show before. I've been close, but never front row. It was just unbelievable. Neither one of us could believe it. I could hardly sleep that night and woke up the next morning thinking, did that really happen? Did she really win those tickets? It seemed like a dream. I had to call her to cement this in my mind.
Thursday arrived and Doreen and I met in New York in the morning. We had a full day of things we wanted to do before the show, including listening to a radio interview Sting did that afternoon with Race Taylor on WPLJ. We got to the theater early to pick up the tickets. As we approached the ticket window, I thought, oh my God, suppose she's not on the list and there's a mistake. I knew Doreen would be devastated. But her name was there. We went into the theater and found our seats. For someone who has never sat in the front row, this was unbelievable. The seats were right up at the stage no barriers. Later during the night, I was resting my arms and actually leaning on the stage. The two DJ's hosting the show, Scott Shannon and Todd Pettingill, are the guys I listen to every morning on my
way to work. I hoped that they would be in the theater before the show started and they were. I wanted to try to meet them for a very special reason.
On September 11, because of the tragedy thrust on us that morning, Scott and Todd and the rest of the morning show crew stayed on the radio all day. As I sat in my car from around 12pm to almost 3pm waiting for my husband who was trying to make his way out of Manhattan, walking across the 59th Street bridge and through the streets of Queens to meet me, I listened to these guys on the radio. They were unbelievable - they kept me from falling apart completely. It was like having a friend with you. I was able to talk to my husband periodically on the cell phone, but it was hard to get through. Doreen, the one person I really wanted talk to, was in Tuscany at the time. I didn't know when I would able speak to her. Scott and Todd were there for me and the rest of us in the New York area on that
horrible day and the days that followed. They kept us together and were wonderful, so I wanted to meet them, just to say thank you. I saw Todd first, and approached him to say hello and thank you. He was very nice and friendly, and cute too. Then I saw Scott and said ''Hi''. He said ''Glad you could come and how nice you brought Martha Stewart with you'' looking at Doreen. We cracked up. Doreen looks nothing like Martha Stewart - maybe the light hair? I don't know, but it was very funny.
As we are sitting there before the show, a cameraman is setting up right in front of us. I'm thinking, oh no, this guy is not going to be here for the whole show, is he? I'll die. My one chance to be in a front row seat and now I've got this cameraman in my face. He quickly told us it was just for the first song and then he would be out of our way. As it turned out, the taping of that song was going to be broadcast on an ABC New 2002 Special on New Year's Eve. So Scott and Todd came out on stage to start the show. They introduce the current staff at the radio station as well as DJ's from the past 30 years. And then they introduce Sting.
He came on to the stage smiling, full of energy and he looked wonderful. His voice sounded great and he just seemed so happy as he sang 'If You Love Somebody'. Thankfully, the cameraman disappeared after this first song. I saw Sting look right at Doreen and he smiled right at us - that big beautiful smile that lights up a room. The crowd around us was very into the show. There were a group of girls next to me that were pretty unbelievable.
Both Dominic and Sting played to our side of the stage during the show. Dominic came over and was playing right over Doreen and I - he was so close you could reach out and touch him - well someone did - the girl next to me started grabbing his leg. We couldn't believe it! Then Dominic tosses his pick right at Doreen - she doesn't catch it because 42 hands come across from everywhere and we're pushed up against the stage. We laughed. Then Sting comes to play to our side of the stage - no hands reached out, thank God, but one of these girls screamed so loud I thought I lost hearing in my left ear! And of course, the crush against the stage. At that point my arms were resting on the stage - it's as if I was on stage, which was pretty cool actually.
When he did 'Englishman in New York' the crowd went crazy. I had just bought the new album and have fallen in love with the new arrangements, especially 'Brand New Day' and 'All This Time'. I was thrilled to see Sting perform them live. During 'Bring On The Night'/'When The World Is Running Down', Sting did his thing with Jason at our side of the stage - it was great. And the concert ended with my favourite song 'Fragile' which has more meaning now than ever...
(c) Joni Incontro for Outlandos/Sting.com
Sting guests at WPLJ Birthday Party...
Mayor Rudy Guliani of New York said, if you want to help, come and spend money in New York. So, lest we be considered unpatriotic, we decided to travel to New York - (Mary from North Carolina and Margie (and her Mom) from Pennsylvania.) Over the course of a few days, we saw several plays, ate at great restaurants and really enjoyed the spirit of Christmas in what is probably the best city in the US - New York! While we had New York's well being in mind, we also, not-so coincidentally, planned this trip to coincide with Sting's appearance at the Beacon Theatre. We were lucky enough to receive tickets from Outlandos for the show (thanks Tina!!) and at the outset of the trip, the show was to be the pinnacle of our several day trip. We had no idea that the show, although wonderful, would be only
a piece of our amazing Sting adventure! Unbeknownst to us as the day of the concert began, what awaited us will likely be the best Sting experience of our lives! As the day began, our goal was to get our picture taken with Sting. (We all have to have goals!) Legend had it that at the Beacon, Sting was generally pretty agreeable to greeting fans, so we arrived at the Beacon stage door around 3pm. We didn't get a chance to have our picture taken with Sting that afternoon (don't be too disappointed for us) because after a series of lucky breaks and introductions, we found ourselves being escorted into the Beacon for the soundcheck! We were three (Mary, Margie's Mom and Margie) of only about 20 people, most of whom seemed to be from ABC television.
As we learned in short order, the TV crew was there to film Sting's appearance on what would be a New Year's Eve appearance on American TV. This was not only cool because we were getting a pretty private preview of the Beacon set, but also because Margie's Mom didn't have a ticket to the show that night, but through the soundcheck, did get to see Sting perform. Although she's a huge Sting fan, Mom has yet to join Outlandos! Let that be a lesson to Mom! This was our first indoor sound check - we'd been witness to two soundchecks in the past, but they were only accomplished by peeking through the trees in Central Park, and through a hole in a fence in Dublin. Those soundchecks, although great, were not quite the same as sitting in the darkened Beacon Theater. For the first ten minutes or so,
we sat pretty motionless, afraid that someone would spot us and say, ''hey how'd those women get in here??'' But, luckily, that never happened. Sting played through about half a dozen songs and then changed his shirt (yes, ladies, we did get to see Sting shirtless for a moment!!) for the taping of the Eve tune, 'If You Love Somebody', It's a fun performance we're looking forward to seeing again. Although most people would be able to go home happy at this point, we remained very goal oriented! Remember, it was still our plan to get that picture with Sting!
While it may seem greedy after our soundcheck coup, we arrived at the stage door around 6pm. After waiting only a few moments, the band members began to arrive. We got some great shots with various band members - Dominic and Kipper included - and then - Sting arrived. We asked if we could take a picture with him and in keeping with his kind reputation, he was happy to oblige us. Of course, stage hands and others were ushering Sting into the Beacon, so he told us we could take a picture, as long as we kept walking backwards with him. Although we were glued to the sidewalk with nervousness and excitement, we did manage to walk with Sting and - yes - finally got THAT picture!
The concert itself was wonderful! The new arrangements worked well in the Beacon, Many thanks to Tina and Outlandos for helping to make it possible for us to attend, (Since what follows clearly felt like an out-of-body experience for both Mary and Margie - it's written in the third person).
After the concert, Margie and Mary went immediately to a bar they thought the band would go to, hoping to catch another glimpse of them before calling it a night. However, through some miracle, they ended up as guests at the after-party! The entire band was there as were Sting and Trudie! Sting eventually had a free moment, which Margie and Mary politely seized. Mary had brought her new ''All This Time'' DVD, and her new CD, hoping to get them autographed. She got that, and more! Sting commented that he hadn't seen it yet, and that he doesn't even own a DVD player. He said he doesn't like to watch himself, and that his ''fantasy is that he's not Sting.'' Margie quickly replied, ''Well, my fantasy is that you are Sting, and I'm standing here talking to you!'' At which point Sting kissed her
gently on the forehead! (Surprisingly, she remained standing!) Mary advised Sting that he really should get a DVD player. She told him that she had watched the A&E special, and that the sound, colour and clarity of the DVD far surpassed that of the television show. His response was to kiss her on the cheek. Mary's response was to kiss him back! Sting couldn't have been nicer or more charming, (Who here is surprised???)
The funniest part of the experience came the next day, when Margie left Mary a phone message saying, ''Yes, yesterday really happened!'' They are still floating on air. As if that weren't enough, Mary got to see Sting once more the following morning at the Today Show. Even though she knew he would not be performing outside, she figured she'd go, just for the New York experience of it (Christmas tree and ice skaters at Rockefeller Center, etc.), So, after a restful two hours of sleep (filled with happy dreams of the earlier day), she pulled herself from the comfort of her bed, grabbed a cab and arrived at the Today Show around 4am. She got a spot standing right up front and held her (freshly autographed) CD up every time the camera swooped by. Sting did perform inside, but not before he came
outside to act as one of Santa's best looking elves! He gamely donned a Santa hat, and went around collecting ''Toys for Tots'' from the crowd, After Mary deposited her toy in ''Santa's'' bag, she playfully held her CD above his toy bag and said, ''I think I'll keep this,'' Sting laughed and replied, Good idea!''
After this trip, Mary and Margie (and Margie's Mom, too) can emphatically say that ''Yes, there definitely is a Santa Claus (and he looks just like Sting)!'' because our Christmas wishes definitely came true early this year! Happiest of Holidays to all Outlandos fans out there and a Peaceful, Happy 2002 to all!
(c) Margie Tolen for Outlandos/Sting.com