My thoughts on the concert at the Forum:
As most of you know, I don’t do that whole “kids” business, so let me impress upon you all how significant it is that I say this in all honesty and conviction:
I. Would. Bear. Sting’s. Children.
(We could get started on that right this very minute, in fact. How can he still be so unbelievably rock star sexy after 30 years? I don’t remember thinking he was THIS hot when I was still a TEENAGER, and yet I know I thought he was hot then too. DAAAAYM! YE GODS I can’t believe I didn’t know it when I met him … but who is ever prepared for meeting one’s idol in the middle of their workday, you know? It’s just not something you EXPECT to happen, even in my line of work. Anyone but him, I would have taken in stride. Clooney, Sheen, Cage, Van Damme -NAKED Van Damme- Magic, Shaq, Eminem, OKAY SURE WHATEVER…. But STING??? DOH! *superfacepalm* *x2*)
First of all, I think this is an odd duo for a tour. Not that both of them aren’t ranked in the top 5 on my list of musical genius, but they are different flavors of music. It seems that they share perhaps the same spice rack in that regard, but their recipes are significantly original in the way that they blend those ingredients together. Not that this means it is an impossible thing for creating something totally new and delicious, mind you…It’s actually rather like that extraordinarily expensive restaurant that I was taken to on a date once which combined the oddest cultural familiars with each other that didn’t actually appear appetizing when described on the menu (there were combinations akin to sushi GUMBO, or maybe sweet and sour soul-food…Perhaps chicken teriyaki ahi tuna burritos or fried calamari with oyster sauce and hummus) but when I actually picked something that I figured I might be able to eat PART of, turned out to be truly amazingly exquisite.
Well, that isn’t really fair either, since for me anything with Sting will be exquisite anyway. (I was so excited about seeing him again that I kept forgetting that one of my other favorite gurus was going to be there too. It always seems like a bit of an afterthought and a special treat like a cameo or something despite Simon actually having first billing.) But still it WAS a surprisingly tasty combination in some spots, while others maybe needed a little more adjusting of the mix.
Vocally, I think that Sting’s personal explorations into the unknown genres have done nothing but wonderful things for him. He is a much better singer than he was in the 80’s when I was first introduced to The Police. A LOT better. Paul hasn’t been working on that much, I’d say, but I never saw the side of him that came out when he wasn’t singing before. I think maybe he will improve before the end of the Tour too though, as both of them admit that they are still working on the experiment and getting to know each other better together. There is a lot of respect there between them, and well deserved by both, even if it isn’t quite the buddy-buddy at ease with my pal-y energy that was such a nice balance with Simon and Garfunkel. It may grow closer, but I think Sting is just too much of a goddamn ROCK STAR to be that entwined with anyone, and his voice is not the melodic blend-y sort of sound to do that with anyway. His expression is so personal it almost HAS to come at some cost to a smooth blend. But that is one of the things I particularly love about his live performances, which are all so different even when I hear the same songs.
Paul Simon is quite enjoyable live as well. Very cute. Surprisingly, it was less his vocals than his playing that really shined though. (He does quite a bit of conducting, directing the band specifics, cutoffs, concentrating on that background stuff going on behind him more than his own thing and seeming to forget the words of his own songs from time to time. His presence is more that of a maestro than a minstrel in this setting.) But he really gets into the GROOVE when he starts playing, though, and as he forgets about leading the band through every phrase, the musician in him takes over and turns back the clock. The JOY becomes more evident and it is really fun to see how he can’t help digging the jam once he gets to strumming. Watching him boogie down with the guitar just makes me want to get up dance!
Watching Sting play the guitar, though… well, THAT… Oh LORDY THAT… Oh myyy…that’s entirely different. Sting has a masterful touch with the stringed instruments, there is an almost palpable purity in the tone, so resonant it is almost in harmony with itself. You know immediately who is playing with the first note struck (and its not just a fangirl thing, either – the fella next to me made that same observation at the first chords of Fields of Gold. OH MERCY can he make that thing SING!)
Let me put it this way: I have never wanted to be a guitar so badly in my life. (And really, who would want that? But Hubbabhubbahubba… ) Hounds of Winter. Aaaaahhh-whoooooooo!
Some songs chosen by both artists were a little out of place, either in the order or in the whole of the overall tone, such as Desert Rose, which should have come much earlier if it was to be there, and Roxanne, which should have been omitted, as it kinda needs the whole of that badged band to carry, imo. He has such a tremendous repertoire, I doubt it would have been missed with so many excellent alternatives. For Simon, I would have preferred Born at the Right Time over The Obvious Child which was an uncomfortable rhythmic detour that didn’t mesh well with the surrounding tunes. There was another tune that didn’t quite strike the right note with me too, but I was not familiar with it so I can’t tell you what it was called.
Those little things sort of tripped up the build of the energy overall, which in an already somewhat apathetic Los Angeles to begin with, didn’t help the awkwardness of some moments where I could actually see the artists wanting more from US to fuel their performance a bit (a drum solo or two that was too rushed when it should have been given a little time to draw us in to the foreplay, a call and response that didn’t get answered, a solid beat that few people were clapping to – that kind of thing.) It didn’t help either that the crowd is also on the older side of things (not yet over the hill, but possibly in view of the summit, let’s say) and a bit more wont to stay seated than to stand if there is an option.
I was surprised that there weren’t more people taking advantage of the open spaces available scattered around which were clearly better than their assigned seats like the first row of the section that tempted me to abandon my own horrible vantage point by the second song. I pointed out one such place and told my mother (who was kind enough to buy the tickets for me when I expressed concern some weeks back about getting tickets as the costs were pretty astronomical, but who didn’t tell me until after she bought them and didn’t know the finer points of seat selection at the time) “I am gonna go stand right there until someone makes me move. Wanna come with?”
I actually ended up in bit of a better spot for that though, since we were absolutely on the tippy top of the last section that was looking at the backside of the stage and the performers for the entire show, and didn’t even have the jumbotron advantage, as they were pointed forward and we got the profile of that as well. It was that screen I wanted to take advantage of, as it didn’t really matter much to me to get a closer view of their backsides on stage. While I did get shooed off the initial spot I had headed for, as it was blocking the stair/exit a bit, I noticed that they did NOT care about a few folks occupying that empty seating directly next to it.
I made my way back up to my Mom during Simon’s appropriately singing Mother and Child Reunion and smuggled her off with me to situate ourselves there instead. Much better, if still a bit less balanced in sound. At least being in the front there meant I could stand without blocking anyone else, which I did, as I just can’t sit still when there is a beat to bounce to. I don’t know how anyone could do that, but a lot of folks did, Mom included, which kinda had a tendency to kill my buzz when I noticed the distinct lack of energy and motion. Closing my eyes was a reasonably effective remedy for that however, and eventually the beer did start kicking in a bit for the crowd a little more. Or maybe it was the “funny smell” Mom noticed that was responsible for that, but whatever. =)
Me, I had my excitement on just from being hopelessly in love with Mr. Sumner. (He’s totally got that whole Jean Luc Picard thing going on with the no-hairdo now, which is a completely other kind of hotness working for him on top of the whole bloody ROCK STAR even at 62, plus that whole Tantric/Yoga thing, SHEESH, Give a girl a break!) So fuck it – I was dancing. Me and the other girl that was kind enough to scootch over so my mom and I could sit together had our party by ourselves in the corner there. (And I, of course, savored the idea of repeating the best parts of the evening all over again from a different vantage point yet to come… heee wheeeee! One of these days, if I ever get rich enough, I am just gonna follow him around like a stalker from venue to venue all year till I get sick of it. Okay, maybe TWO years…. )
Anyway, the rest is kind of a euphoric blur now, with a notable highlight that was pretty fucking exquisite – like that meal I was talking about before. It was such a delectable surprise I didn’t have a bite left over and was rather amazed at the way the description sounded so awful but tasted so amazing. I had read reviews of it from the earliest shows, but I dunno if the people were not treated to the same experience or if they were simply not having ears attached to their head when they said it didn’t measure up to their liking. The crowd had livened up enough to coax the requisite encores, if not beyond that, but HOLY WOW — when Sting started off “Bridge Over Troubled Water” it just about made me faint tonight -with that uniquely gritty voice of his, with the gospel organ-y sound behind it that almost felt like CHURCH? OMG – I could just die.