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Curtis Cowan & Flyer ... Outst
posted in Laredo
Fantastic! Not typical of other CD's in whch there are usually only a few nice songs. Every song within this album is exceptional.
‘A quiet evening out with Sting at The Queen Elizabeth Theater’
By Julian Klesmer
December 16, 2011
As I step into the Queen Elizabeth Theater to see Sting’s ‘Back to Bass’ show, I feel as though I have just entered an airport. Several hundred middle aged couples stroll around with Hugo Boss overcoats on, drinking coffee (spiked with Baileys and Sweet n’ Low) and discussing tanking mutual funds and sparkling vacation homes. My eyes gravitate towards a booth selling T-shirts with the slogan, ‘There’s no religion but sex + music’ on them. Ordering a double vodka on ice, I wonder if we will be seeing any of that tonight.
The seats begin to fill up as an excited murmur quavers through the 50 something crowd. I imagine Sting backstage in a dark room practicing a complicated tantric yoga pose while he sucks the energy out of a cactus on the table—only candles illuminating his 60 year old face. Then I imagine what’s really going on, and figure he’s probably pounding a diet coke and asking his agent why Geldof won’t return his calls. The lights begin to dim.
Sting strides out and I immediately mistake him for Woody Harrelson. He is wearing a white T-shirt a few sizes too small for him, skinny jeans and beaten up boots. Opening up with ‘All This Time’ he plucks his road worn ’57 Fender P bass with his thumb and looks in his element. The sound system is set to easy listening, and the bass is almost inaudible. It is as if the Queen Elizabeth Theater is a giant, sumptuous elevator. Vocals however are right up front, and the harmonies between Sting and violinist Jo Lawry are tight.
Speaking to the crowd with a loose tongue, he introduces his five-piece band. ‘Musicians often get too old and decrepit’, he says, glancing at Lead guitarist Dominic Miller who has brought along his son to play rhythm guitar on the tour.
The band kicks into ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ by The Police, and it is a pleasure to hear the effected and purposeful space in between the notes in the verse. A single man slow dances in silhouette alone a few rows in front of me. ‘Demolition Man’ hobbles along trying to outpace Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’, but falters along the way. The songs alternate between billboard mediocrity and complex pop brilliance. I can’t help but be confused and eventually angered by the thoughtless twists and turns of the set.
Cascading white spots of light drift down from above, finally settling on and reflecting off of the singers’ relentlessly bald head as the band steps into the groove of ‘Sacred Love’. Puttering to a quick climax, Sting shouts, ‘You’re my religion!’ to nobody in particular. I imagine that he has placed a mirror at the back of the room and is playing blissfully to his reflection.
The Electric fiddle player Peter Tickell puts on the shows most exciting performance, humping the air and dominating the stage during a wild solo, which helps breathe some life into the set and finish on a high note. They end with the breakbeat laden ‘Never Coming Home’ and Sting slowly slinks out of the spotlights as the crowd roars its approval.
For his first encore Sting drifts onstage to the Enya-style introduction chants of ‘Desert Rose’. The man next to me slaps his Chino clad knees as Sting yodels the Grammy-award-winning-Jaguar-selling anthem. Sting attempts a hip shake, and the middle row teeter to their toes. I wait for panties to be thrown, until I remember that this is indeed not a Tom Jones show. They begin an up-tempo rendition of the Puff Daddy favorite, ‘Every Breath You Take’ and the audience takes 16 bars to realize which song it is they’re playing. The band reprise the song numerous times just to make sure that we have all figured out which song this is.
For the third encore, Sting comes back out alone, and performs a rendition of ‘Message in a Bottle’ on a ¾ scale Spanish acoustic guitar. The guitar playing is loose and a bit out, but it feels honest. The final coda of the song repeats with the audience singing back the melody, and the acoustics in the room lend an ominous ‘religious’ tone to the song. One couldn’t help but ask themselves why the whole show hadn’t been more like this.
With the audience still waiting for him to sing ‘Roxanne’, the lights turn on, and the few of us without valet parking walk home through the red lights of the crisp Vancouver night humming along.