Brand New Day

Denver, CO, US
Magness Arenawith Howie Day
Magness crowd feels the Sting and likes it...

Sting eschewed the use of the now-familiar frills of pop concerts and thrilled a sold-out Magness Arena the old-fashioned way - playing great music well.

Accompanied by an accomplished eight-piece band and two backup singers, Sting took a swaying, clapping, cheering crowd on a musical journey that was like going home for a 20th-year class reunion: You recognize most of the people, but they sure don't look the way you remember them. It was the same with much of the music at Monday night's 1 3/4-hour performance.

Performing on a stripped-down stage reminiscent of '60s concerts at the University of Denver hockey arena, Sting paraded out 19 songs that reached from his days with the Police, such as 'Roxanne', to 'Desert Rose', off the 1999 album 'Brand New Day'.

While a couple of songs initially proved hard to recognize, others jumped right out even though their sound had changed dramatically since their earlier days. Sting's new jazz and world-music arrangements fit each song as well as the original ones, with one major exception: His ballad-like delivery of 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', a rocking Police hit about the attraction between a high school student and her teacher. A slowed version appears on ting's new live album '...All This Time', but he took it down a couple of notches more Tuesday night. That left it as lifeless as the welcoming speech by the class president.

But he did give 'Don't Stand...' the night's best introduction, saying, ''Before I became a rock singer, I was a schoolteacher. But I want to point out that this song in no way is autobiographical.''

'Roxanne' came dressed in a Latin beat, including an extended give and take with the audience that featured Sting singing ''Roxanno'' and the crowd echoing it back at him.

Through the concert Sting and his band cut loose with long jams that featured the star sharing the spotlight with individual players. The most memorable instrumental piece of the night saw Sting trading riffs with keyboardist Jason Rebello on 'When the World Is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around'. At the peak of the jam, Sting's pick hand turned into a blur as it worked his bass guitar. When the song ended, he whipped the guitar strap off his neck and walked off the stage; the crowd exploded, shouting, clapping and stomping approval.

He and the band returned for a two-song encore, 'If I Ever Lose Faith in You' and 'Every Breath You Take'. His fans found enough breath to make the arena sound like old Mile High Stadium when John Elway was guiding the Broncos to another come-from-behind victory.

Sting responded with a second encore, opening with the new tune 'Fragile'.

Sting took over lead guitar duty for the song, with guitarist extraordinarie Dominic Miller on bass. Even this hauntingly tender song failed to soothe the crowd, which seemed determined not to let go of Sting.

Sting, likewise, seemed reluctant to leave.

''Thank you, Denver. Thank you for coming. Thank you for listening. Thank you for being so nice,'' he said, before touching hands with numerous fans who pushed their way up to the stage.

Band members and backup singers joined him in greeting the faithful for a minute or two. Then, fittingly, Sting and the other musicians joined hands at center stage. Together they bowed, one, two, three, four times before the stage lights went down, and up came the house lights, ending one of the year's best-played concerts.

(c) The Denver Post by Ed Will

Sting returns to Denver...

The 11th September was the craziest day of my life. The recording of 'All This Time' under the Tuscan sky should have been the ultimate end of my 'Brand New Day' Tour. It surely was the most intense and beautiful concert I've ever seen. However the tragedy in New York on that day left me with these mixed emotions. So when the fanclub made some tickets available for the Colorado Springs and Denver shows, it was Colorado I wanted to go to.

On December 7th a friend and I flew to Denver. That same night Chris Botti was playing at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs. Only 10 minutes before the show started we arrived at the venue. Just in time for the ''Songs of December'' performed by Chris and the Christmas Jazz Trax Band.

The Colorado Springs gig was held at the local ice hockey stadtium, the World Arena. The show started with 'If You Love Somebody'. The new arrangements of this song are really refreshing. For Dominic the rock version 'We'll Be Together' must have been a pleasure to play.

At the beginning of the tour I was happy to see, that Sting put 'All This Time' back to his set list. What they did to this song on the live album and during these concerts are really a masterpieces. In a way it's a completely new song and one of my favourites. 'Hounds of Winter' is another classic, which will never bore.

The night before we tried to convince Chris Botti to make it to one of the shows. Unfortunately he had other obligations. He was missed immensely during songs like 'Seven Days' and 'Moon over Bourbon Street'. His sound is irreplaceable.

The two women next to me where holding up a sign saying ''Sting, please let us sing 'Brand New Day' with you'''. Sting read the sign in the beginning of the concert. When Sting came to the song, he called them to the stage. It took some time to get there, but after four repeated intros they were settled next to Sting. In the meantime one lost her voice due to the excitement. Despite this misfortune and the fact they hardly knew the words, it was fun to watch how Sting abused the occasion. He turned his back to one of the woman. Put his buttocks to hers and started shaking and rubbing her for the rest of the song. I'm sure she had the time of her life.

It was an electrical night. Another woman threw a red bra on stage. Sting was disappointed though to find the price tag still on it. From red bra's to 'Roxanne'. Sting added a new improvisations to this song; a wonderful piece of 'Bed's Too Big Without You'.

The Denver show was held at the Magness Arena. A very beautiful venue within a bigger church like complex. The seats this night were perfect. Second row nearly in front of Sting. A splendid view over the entire stage. Where the Springs concert had some weak moments, the Denver show was near to perfection.

At the beginning of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' Sting tried to explain that was not autobiographical. Someone in the audience (I'll not reveal the identity) shouted: ''We don't believe you, anyway!'' For a moment Sting was baffled. By denying it a second time he didn't make his defence more credible.

'Desert Rose' was the hottest moment of the Denver evening. I just heard the music play. My eyes were fixed on a sexy ''belly dancer''. Eden was never closer to me. Or was it just a ''Fata Morgana''?! The musicians were enjoying themselves by making this extraordinary music. When the first notes of 'Fragile' started I saw some reflection in some eyes. A flashback to that day in September was going through our minds. The only difference was there was joy and determination in the eyes instead of fear and doubt. It was a beautiful experience. A happy New Year to everyone!

(c) Luuk Schroijen for Outlandos/

Backing up Sting...

We planned this trip for months. Christina and I decided to try to get onstage with Sting and sing back-up on 'Brand New Day'. She flew in to Kansas City on Friday night and we sang the song a few times. I showed her a few moves that I wanted to do in the song as well. I knew we had plenty of time to rehearse on the ninehour drive to Colorado Springs. As we drove, we sang so much that I began to lose my voice. By Sunday, the day of the concert, I hardly had a speaking voice, so we made some adjustments and decided to go on with the plan.

I had made a sign for each of us to hold, but when we saw Janice and Katreese, we knew our chances were next to nothing. The concert opened energetically with 'If You Love Somebody', and Sting was obviously in a good mood, He was especially talkative this night. He said it was his first time in Colorado Springs and, ''I like it here. Beautiful mountains, beautiful women...'' And then, he said something to the effect of the ''high'' altitude, which got a laugh (as it did at Red Rocks last summer.) The band sounded good with two horn players, whom I could not see because the speakers were in our way. However, Chris was greatly missed on trumpet. The audience loved Abe, and Jason, Jeff and Kipper were all doing a great job as usual. Next was 'We'll Be Together' and 'A Thousand Years'. I held up my sign, and I think he noticed it because we were in the second row, but he ignored it and went on. He glanced at his music stand often as I think he was not that comfortable with the set list.

During 'All This Time', Sting sang the lyrics ''Blessed are the poor'' and then totally lost his train of thought. He was searching for the words on his music stand, but had trouble finding the right ones. He said to the rest of the band, who patiently continued for about eight bars until Sting could begin again, ''I kind of like it this way.'' Next was 'Hounds Of Winter' and 'Seven Days'. Dom came downstage to entertain us while he played, gazing for an extended period of time at a young lady in front of me. His haircut really makes a difference in that now you can really see the expressions he makes while playing. Before Sting began 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', he said that he used to be a school teacher. He also added that this song was not biographical, just a fantasy, and he made a face like ''yeah, right'' so he intended for you to not really know what he meant.

That song led into 'Fields Of Gold' and by then, most of the audience, even in front, had sat down. After the song, Sting picked up a pair of red panties that appeared on the stage near Kipper. He asked, ''So who shops at Victoria's Secret?'' To which the female part of the audience yelled ''I DO'' in unison. Next he added, ''Apparently, they've not been worn, the tag is still on.'' People laughed. Then he 'asked, ''What is PS?'' (for the size) to which Christina shouted, ''Petite Small.'' He heard and repeated, ''Petite small, hmm?'' The reason Christina knew that is because my sister threw those panties on stage and then took off before anyone saw her.

Sting said, ''There is a message in here, I'll read it later.'' And when I asked my sister what that was, she said it was a quarter she had used to give the panties extra weight so she could throw them farther. Won't he be surprised! By now I had held up my sign about a half a dozen times and finally Sting said, ''Okay, let's see what this says.'' He read our signs and said, ''Okay, what else is out there?'' There were a few other signs about his birthday, and we were certain we would not be on sta! since he didn't say anything like, ''I'll get back to you later.'' We were bummed but I was sort of relieved since I had no singing voice anyway.

Next he played 'Every Little Thing' and 'Moon Over Bourbon Street'. On the note that he holds forever, which was very cle, and crisp, and he raised it up two steps just beautifull) The audience sat down to enjoy this and we did too. He started the intro to 'Brand New Day' and said, ''Where are those two girls who wanted to sing back up?'' I jumped up, handed my camera to the guy next. me, quickly begged him to take a few shots, and began to head to the stage.

Christina had some trouble getting through our aisle as she was nearly six months pregnant. I heard Sting say, ''Let's see what Colorado Springs has to offer.'' Now this was my third time on stage, I sang with Sting in Ames last May and he mus! have known I was not from the Springs, but he did not know who Christina was or where she was from. I also heard him tell the band to take the tempo down as we were making our way there. I was first on stage and went directly to Sting who held out his hand to me. As he took it, he pulled me close to him, put his arm around me and gave me a kiss on the cheek as if to say, ''Hello, darling.'' I'd like to think that anyway. He did the same with Christina. He asked me my name and when I answered in a squeak, ''Karen'' you should have seen the shocked look on his face. Christina said, ''She's Karen and I'm Christina.'' Sting said, ''Hello, Christina.'' She told him, ''She lost her voice'' to which Sting raised his eyebrows (like he couldn't believe it) and questioned, ''She lost her voice???'' Christina assured him, ''I'm going to sing and she's going to dance.''

Sting was thrown for a loop here. He couldn't ask, 'Have you ever sung in public before', or say we've never met, so he asked what we did for a living. Again with a squeak, I answered, ''I teach'' and Christina said she was a mom. With that, we went right in to the song. Occasionally, I turned to make eye contact with Janice, whom I adore, and she was so supportive and gave me such a big, encouraging smile.

We were hitting every little bit of back-up there was and then came the instrumental part when I knew I needed to be watching Sting (as he would probably do something that I could use.) So I looked at him and he had turned his back to me. He was shaking his rear and playing for the audience. In a split second, I decided to turn my back to him and shake right with him. I felt his broad shoulders against my back as we were ''rubbing arses'' and half of the audience was about to pass out. By the time we got to the ''Stand up'' every one was already standing. Even the people in the back of the nosebleed section were up and clapping, it was certainly a highlight of the night (and of my life!) He ended the song with a jump and then repeated with us what he did in the beginning: a handshake, a hug, and a kiss.

The energy level was high as they began 'Englishman in New York' and an extended version of 'Roxanne', tossing in a bit of 'Bed's Too Big'. The ''fires'' for 'Desert Rose' got a big response as that song started, and he ended the set with the marathon 'Bring on the Night'/'When the World is Running Down'. The first encore consisted of 'If I Ever Lose My Faith' and 'Every Breath You Take', and the second encore was, of course, 'Fragile'. The band took their bows and walked to both sides of the stage, but shook no hands. I blew kisses to Sting, and I think he got them, I just hope that he didn't get my cold.

(c) Karen Seaton for Outlandos/

Sting concert deftly balanced...

In the past, Sting's shows have gone one of two ways: He'd either myopically focus on his biggest hits in shows that became predictable, or he'd fill the set with obscure album cuts that became monotonous.

But at Magness Arena on Monday night, he achieved just the right blend, wrapping his own musical meanderings around some of his biggest solo and Police hits. The result was a crowd ecstatic with passionate versions of classics that was also willing to indulge his more esoteric moments.

Opening the show with 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', he deftly guided his 10-piece band through jazz, funk, pop and rock, blending songs ('Don't Stand So Close To Me' into 'Fields of Gold') and jamming others out (Roxanne).

Touring on the heels of his new live album, 'All This Time', Sting and band managed to overcome the often-bass- heavy acoustics of Magness and still rock the place pretty hard.

A hallmark of the new live album is different arrangements of some of his classic songs, and this carried over into Monday's concert. Sometimes it worked: 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' benefited from a stripped- down, stark arrangement that nonetheless stayed true to the song's melody. On the other hand, 'All This Time' - one of Sting's most melodic solo hits - was pretty much shorn of its beauty because of the monotone vocal and shrill new arrangement. 'We'll Be Together' fell somewhere in between, a partially successful experiment that still wasn't as powerful as the original version.

As noted, however, Sting rewarded the crowd, tossing in a classic every few songs, be it the recent megahit 'Desert Rose' or faithful readings of Police hits such as 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' (a shimmering highlight) or solo numbers such as a lilting 'Englishman in New York' and the sublime 'Fields of Gold'.

Friendly and engaging, even accepting a stuffed animal from the crowd, Sting played a set that was relaxed yet intense, highlighted by Prince-like jamming on the old stalwart 'When the World Is Running Down' and a deeply grooved version of 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' (''A very good song to strip to, should anyone feel the urge,'' he noted).

Opening act Howie Day was an unexpected delight. Using just his voice, an acoustic guitar and some loop-effects pedals, Day was able to create intricate arrangements to back his fine strumming and singing. Even when he played his Crowded House-influenced songs just straight solo acoustic, he was able to draw in a crowd that had largely never heard of him, much less heard him before.

(c) Rocky Mountain News by Mark Brown