Mercury Falling

Concord, CA, US
Chronicle Pavilion at Concordwith Geggy Tah
Sting returns to Concord...

I was thrilled when I heard Sting would be touring since I've never had a chance to see him perform before. I first got tickets to the Sacramento concert through VH-1 Music Channel; they were selling seats before they went on sale to the public.

My first concert was at the Cal Expo Amphitheatre in Sacramento and it was a very hot day with temperatures of over 100 degrees. A band called 'Geggy Tah' opened with three members using a variety of instruments and they reminded me somewhat of the Police. They played a lively opening and were well received by the audience.

Sting took the stage at 9pm with 'Hounds Of Winter' which led into 'Hung My Head' and then went on to play 'I Was Brought To My Senses', 'Set Them Free', 'Every Little Thing...' 'Seven Days' and 'You Still Touch Me'.

He then stopped and explained to the audience that this was the part of the show he was looking forward to. He then asked a lady in the crowd to come up on stage and sing 'I'm So Happy...' with him and she didn't do too badly. When that was over with he went on to play 'Fields Of Gold', 'Synchronicity II' and 'Roxanne' with an excellent reggae break midway, complimented by some great slide trombone from the horn section. From there they played 'Bring On the Night/'When The World Is...' and a rocking version of 'Demolition Man', He finished off the first part of the set with 'Englishman In New York' in which the saxophonist had a rap in the middle of the song.

Sting came back out with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith...' 'Every Breath You Take', and 'Lithium Sunset', and last but not least he played 'Fragile' to end the night. This was the standard set he used for all the other concerts I attended.

For my second concert Sting played the Reno Hilton Amp. on Wednesday 14 August in Reno. It was perfect weather for a great night of music. Again 'Geggy Tah' opened, as they did for the other two show I attended. The highlight of this night was guest appearances by comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal who were in Nevada filming. It was they who assisted Sting with 'I'm So Happy...' and this had the audience going crazy! During the concert Sting joked about not playing many hotels and said: ''I hear if I play well tonight, next time they'll let me play the lounge!'' Sting was really on, he sounded great.

Shoreline Amp. on 16 August in Mountain View, Ca. was located in the Bay Area. It was a cool night but I was back on the green. Fortunately there were huge screens to assist those of us back in the crowd. It was another great concert but there were no exciting incidents that night.

My fourth concert was Concord Pavilion on 7 August. I actually arrived before anyone was playing and had a great seat which was amazing as I only bought the ticket about a month before. A lady I had sat next to earlier had one spare and luckily for me nobody else was ahead of me. This night 'Geggy Tah' made their entrance by walking through the crowd playing drums and one extremely long horn! When they finally reached the stage Dominic Miller joined them for one song in which he just sat in a rocking chair for 'Peace Love In A Rocking Chair.'

During another great set Sting announced that it was the first time he was in Concord ... but the crowd was quick to correct him. Some coming back to him that he had indeed played there in 1986 and others said 1991. Anyway, later in the show Sting said it was coming back to him that he had indeed played there in 1986 and apologised saying that he was getting old and his memory was going!

Later he pulled some guy named R.J. out of the audience for a chorus of 'I'm So Happy...' Sting told him to just sing the chorus but R.J. wanted to sing the whole song with Sting - so they did. R.J. was so persistent in singing that finally Sting just backed off for a few verses and let him go solo. The crowd loved it and we gave RJ. a standing ovation.

They were all great concerts and I'd like to thank STING and the rest of the band. I would like also like to thank OUTLANDOS for keeping me informed of all STING's news.

(c) Eric Sackett for Outlandos/

Steady Sting: Pop icon shows Pavilion crowd why his power never fades...

No question about it. Sting has got his thing down. Saturday night at the sold-out Concord Pavilion, the former frontman for the Police proved why, nearly 20 years after it all began, he's still got it.

Back when Sting was singing about 'Roxanne', he was just a pop star. Now he's a megastar, one of the few artists in our time who consistently turns out quality work that appeals to a variety of people and is, for the most part, critically acclaimed.

It's not an easy trick and it's almost implausible until you realise that sly Gordon Sumner, his real name, has created his own niche. Sting is just a brand name for a kind of music that is all its own, that no one has been able to pull off with quite the same aplomb.

Sting is like the J.Crew of the music world. He makes comfortable, classic things that a lot of people enjoy. He does not make speciality items. He is not trendy. He is not cutting edge. He is safe and, in his own English way, middle-of-the-road Americana.

No artist today has been able to master the ballad as well as Sting. It's like he's turned the smart, safe pop song into his own creation like no one else even considered taking light jazz, sprinkling in some piano and layering the whole thing with intelligent lyrics (usually telling a good tale of some sort), a soulful voice and choruses that stick in the brain forever.

Whether you like him or not and many of his old Police fans have found him way too mainstream and syrupy you have to give him credit for doing what he does. You can recognise a Sting song instantly. You can learn it in minutes. And you can love it for years. That's what you call a successful industry.

On Saturday night, Sting trotted out 18 past and present songs, redefining some of them, watering down others, but mostly coming clean with the goods that everybody wanted: A great voice, great songs and the kind of happy on-stage demeanour that can make an hour and 45 minutes fly by.

Wearing spiky short hair, a goatee, a tank top and baggy pants, Sting launched into 'The Hounds of Winter', the first song off his new album, 'Mercury Falling'. With long-time collaborator Kenny Kirkland on keyboards and two energetic horn players augmenting guitar, drums and Sting's bass, the sound was as familiar as an old sweater.

As the last notes sounded, the band went right into 'I Hung My Head', one of two current hits off the new album (his batting average is amazing and you can bet there will be one or two more off this album that will become popular chestnuts). A series of ever-changing landscapes was presented on the video screen behind him. The light show was not, as many are these days, ridiculously overdone.

''It's nice to be in Concord for the first time in my life,'' Sting said. ''This is still the Bay Area, isn't it?'' he asked. He was then told that, yes indeed, he'd been here 10 years earlier. He couldn't remember it, but revisited the fact as a joke throughout the show.

One of the night's highlights was during 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' (see, he can even make a faux-country song sound great); he called a fan up to sing the song as a duet. As it turned out, the man could hold his own. Not only was Sting amused, but the crowd went wild. The night was filled with the standard ''Sting sound.''

Of course, this comes with its own set of problems. You can only play the keyboards-and-saxophone-over-a-tidy-little-story thing so many times before it becomes repetitive. Ah, but it doesn't. Otherwise he'd be the latest casualty on a mountain heap of really bad adult contemporary songwriters. It's a Sting thing. Don't try and understand it.

Take 'You Still Touch Me', for example. It's off the new album. It's all over the radio. It's that familiar formula and yet it's different. In concert it sounded tremendously good. A decade from now, back in Concord, another sell-out crowd will be singing every word of it. On Saturday night, Sting wasn't shy about dipping into his lengthy back catalogue, including a handful of old Police numbers.

There were mistakes (a completely rejiggered 'Roxanne' sounded painfully like he was tired of singing it straight) and a couple of outright disasters, but mostly the night was a parade of hits no one will ever forget.

Like 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Every Breath You Take', 'Fields Of Gold', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' on down the line. Even half-hits like 'Englishman In New York' and 'Seven Days' sound better than the best songs from some other artists. That's because they are Sting Songs.

They should have a little copyright logo on them.

(c) The Contra Costa Times by Tim Goodman