Stuff I’m Into: Sting

Fangirling at its finest.

On Tuesday night, I got to see Sting in concert.

This is a bigger deal than you think. First of all, despite living in Music City, I don’t actually go to all that many concerts. I moved here to be a teacher, and teacherlife prevented me from doing much of anything for a long time. I also am not a huge fan of like.. Bridgestone Arena levels of crowd.

Second and more importantly of all, I freaking love Sting. This has been a thing woven against the whole pattern of my life, a piece of the background, something to always just like. I first inherited this from my parents, listening to their greatest hits CD again and again as a youngster. I never watched that show Ally McBeal, but I know that there was something in it about everyone having their own theme song. I decided that mine was “Fields of Gold,” because I liked it so much. “You know, that’s a love song, right?” my parents asked. Well, I had and I hadn’t. I was like eleven. This was my theme song and Sting was my theme song’s creator.

Even then I was big into words, and lyrics were important to me. I have always liked songs with meaningful words; these are the ones that really speak to me.  Musicality and technical expertise are all but lost on me, though I am not insusceptible to well crafted music, I just have very little in the way of exploratory taste. I have tried to appreciate music, but I am mostly ignorant. But give me a poem, and I am happy.

When I was in high school, people gave me Police CDs because they just knew that was a thing I would like. Around the same time, I got the Brand New Day disc, and I played them in my car, over and over again. Lots of Sting songs made it on to the Continuation Playlist (“Fragile,” “Why Should I Cry For You?”  and probably “Desert Rose,” given the Quatre storyline). Julie, at some sleepover or other, insisted that gold does not grow, and therefore “Fields of Gold,” makes no sense, and thereafter called the song “Fields of Corn.” I tried to cut a clip of “When We Dance” into a school presentation. I did cut a clip of it into a photo slideshow I made for Kyle. We sang “Tomorrow We’ll See” as we dissected a frog in biology lab (I cannot explain why, just that my fortunate lab partner Katelyn was on the same page as me). I loved “Ghost Story,” although my dad was partial to “Fill Her Up” (which I also loved). I loved how “A Thousand Years” and “Brand New Day” connect to each other, acting as two sides of a coin. I managed to find the full song “The End of the Game,” later on, and enjoyed that too.

I got the autobiography, greedy to know more about the life of the man behind the music. Straight from the horse’s mouth, too, no more taking my dad’s word for it when he lied and said Sting was named after Bilbo’s sword in The Hobbit.

 

The very same Katelyn gave me Sacred Love in my last years of high school. I freaking loved the echoes of “Walking in Your Footsteps,” that I heard in “Dead Man’s Rope.” I loved “The Book of My Life,” and “Sacred Love,” and “Never Coming Home,” and “Whenever I Say Your Name,” and “Inside,” and “Send Your Love.” Everything I listened to spoke to some drama playing out in my head either with fictional or with real people from my life.

After that, I checked in and listened along. I remember listening to The Last Ship songs at my desk at school once my dream of becoming a teacher were realized. I hummed along and tried to follow the story, because that’s all I was ever really looking for – a story to which I could relate.

Flash forward to Latin teacher hour some Wednesday in the winter. Two beers in, someone mentions that Sting is coming to town in February. I have heard mention of this on the radio, or something, along with the new rock-style single playing. Someone else insists that we should go. Ten minutes later, tickets have been purchased on someone’s phone, and we’re all forking over handfuls of $20s.

A week before the show, the local radio station is hosting a weekly activity – Beer, Bands, n’ Bingo – at which the grand prize is Chicago tickets and a meet and greet with Sting. The second prize (unbeknownst to me) is a meet and greet at the Nashville show. I can’t find anyone to go play bingo with me, so I gather up my social insecurity and I go it alone, sitting at the bar with my bingo card, nursing beer after beer bent on winning my way into getting my copy of Broken Music signed by the artist.

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Triple reach! I was close, but even winning this was not winning the prize — just an extra entry in the drawing (which wouldn’t have hurt).

 

I didn’t win, but I still had tickets, and we still went. I was excited because I knew the opener, Joe Sumner, was his son, and I even toted my copy of the book juuuuust in case…

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Circa 8pm. Our seats are back and center.

The show was scheduled to start at 8:00, but half the seats were still empty and the lights were full up, until quickly at 8:15 they dropped out, and a lone dude in a black t-shirt walked across the stage almost impishly. He announced that he just felt like getting it started all by himself. I squinted. Was this Joe? No indeed, it was Sting himself. He sang us “South on the Great North Road,” and talked about how he has no memory of playing Municipal Auditorium in the 80s, but he does remember the ’79 gig at Exit/In. “You do not remember that,” he added, pointing to someone near the stage, “Because you are too young.”

He then introduced his son Joe, calling him “My boy, my pride and joy,” and Joe played us a few songs. His voice is similar in sound to his father’s, though the style is a bit different. I enjoyed his song “Jellybean,” for his kid.

The Last Bandaleros were fun, too. Sting popped out again during their last song to sing along with them and play the tambourine.

And then they opened the first set with “Synchronicity II,” which we like to call “Many Miles Away,” and which is one of my faves of all time on the Police album. It’s also a song I’ve shared with my parents for many years. I love the lyrics because I have a tendency to link occurrences that are not physically and scientifically entailed together, and I know from the book that Sting does too.

We got Police hits, solo hits, and work from the new album all served up in balanced fashion. He blended Roxanne into a half-cover of Ain’t No Sunshine, which was a lot of fun too. There’s a song on the 57th and 9th album called “Petrol Head” that I hadn’t really listened to closely enough to realize it’s like basically all about sex, but I definitely noticed that night. The only songs he didn’t play from the new album were, I think, “If You Can’t Love Me,” and “Inshallah.” All the rest we did hear, the last track “The Empty Chair” as the encore. He told the story behind that song, as the homage it is. The Nashville show was immediately following his performance at the Oscars. He did it solo with just a guitar, also saying beforehand that he preferred to send us away in a calmer frame of mind, so we wouldn’t bother the neighbors. In the same way, the song closes the energetic album, he sang us off with the quiet sad of “The Empty Chair.”

Here’s that, along with some other info from the Tennessean, worth a read: http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2017/03/01/sting-shows-nashville-audience-why-hes-still-standout/98321772/   (I didn’t know it was rare for him to play “Fields of Gold” on tour… but I’m glad he did. ^_^)

Here’s the lucky folks who won where I lost at Bingo and more: http://lightning100.com/photo/sting-secret-show-soundcheck-photos/

 

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