Monday, December 14, 2015

Sting at Carnegie Hall

Gordon Sumner was born in Wallsend, England, where he helped his father deliver milk and later worked as a bus conductor, building laborer, tax officer and schoolteacher while playing bass in local jazz bands. A fellow jazz musician thought he looked like a bee in his black and yellow sweater with hooped stripes and nicknamed him Sting. Stewart Copeland, drummer with prog rock band Curved Air, persuaded Sting to leave his teaching job in 1977 and relocate from Newcastle to London where together they would form the Police. The Police became one of the world's most popular rock acts until its demise in 1983, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. Solo and with the Police combined, Sting has won 16 Grammy Awards and has sold over 100 million records. Sting's 11th and most recent solo album, The Last Ship, was released in 2013.

Although Sting has performed in more than 20 multi-artist benefit concerts at Carnegie Hall, tonight's benefit was the first time he ever performed alone on the bill. For "An Evening with Sting: Symphonicities," Sting was backed by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, under the musical direction of conductor/musical arranger Rob Mathes. Sting began his set aptly with "Englishman in New York," with the enthusiastic audience singing along to the lyric, "Be yourself, no matter what they say." "I sincerely hope that THIS Englishman in New York has earned a place here," he said, revering Carnegie Hall for being a "hallowed, sacred venue." Sting's unique vocals carried the set, which included solo and Police songs and a cover of Frank Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" with Chris Botti on trumpet. Hearing Sting backed by an orchestra was majestic, even though the orchestral backing softened the catalogue so that often it seemed like Sting was singing all standards. The audience responded especially favorably to the Police songs: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," which Sting dedicated to his departing manager of 38 years; "Roxanne"; "King of Pain"; "Every Breath You Take"; and a final encore of "Message in a Bottle," which he played solo on acoustic guitar. The personable singer also shared amusing anecdotes about his life and his songs between most songs. The concert may have been among Sting's finest moments, and also raised over $2 million for music education programs at Carnegie Hall.

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