Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Sting @ the Hollywood Bowl
As I’ve reported before on this blog, I’ve been a huge Sting fan since the early 1980s. In fact, I like to say that I’ve been in love with Sting longer than I’ve been in love with Tim--which is probably why Tim doesn’t mind buying me Sting tickets just as long as he doesn’t have to go with me to the concerts.
Sting has reinvented himself many times over the past thirty years. Starting as the lead singer for the rock band The Police, his music took a decidedly jazz-pop turn when he struck out on his own in the mid-80s. He’s won two Grammy awards and has received three “best song” Oscar nominations. He’s even appeared in movies (remember the near-naked Feyd Rautha in David Lynch’s Dune?). In 2006, he recorded Songs from the Labyrinth, a CD of Elizabethan tunes, which he performed with lutenist Eden Karamazov, and last year filmed a reading of Twin Spirits, a play about German composer Robert Schumann (Sting) and his composer wife Clara Wieck (Trudie Styler, Sting’s real-life wife). He is currently touring with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, performing symphonic versions of his pop-rock songs. Last night’s Hollywood Bowl concert was sold-out.
Tim was actually going to see Sting with me this time, but had to work at the last minute (damn those Lakers!), so Karen went instead. The concert was scheduled to start at 8PM, so we left the house at 5:30PM. We took the shuttle from Hollywood & Highland, the garish mall half-a-mile south of the Hollywood Bowl. Three radio stations were broadcasting from outside the Bowl: Jack FM (classic & contemporary rock), KLOS (classic rock) and KOST (L.A.’s best-known “soft rock” station). It just goes to show how eclectic Sting’s music is!
Most of the audience seemed to be our age, though some were much younger. One of my former students (in his early 40s) happened to sit two rows in front of us. I was surprised to hear that he and his wife became fans long after Sting left The Police. How old must I be to still be a fan from his Police days? Yikes!
It was light out when the orchestra arrived and started to play. We assumed they might play a few opening numbers before our hero appeared. But, no, after only a handful of notes, Sting came strolling out and sang to jubilant applause.
The Bowl is an enormous venue (18,000 seats) and we were nowhere near the stage. Still, I could tell he was trim and fit. The large video screens, on both sides of the stage, also confirmed that he’s as gorgeous as ever. The best part, though, was his voice, which is still beautiful and strong. Normally I would have cried when he started to sing, but it was daylight and didn’t want to look like a blubbering fool!
The concert was fabulous. Sting sang all my personal favorites and spent a lot of time providing context for many of the songs. He doesn’t usually converse much with the audience, so this was a wonderful treat. He was obviously relaxed and sang for two hours, at one point bringing out trumpet-player and good friend Chris Botti, much to everyone’s happy surprise. The concert ended with “Every Breath You Take,” arguably Sting’s most famous song (but not one of my favorites), followed by three (!!!) encores. His final offering: an acapella rendering of “I Was Brought to My Senses.” Even people who were rushing to beat the traffic stopped to listen. It was a breathtaking ending to a perfect evening.