Brand New Day

Honolulu, HI, US
Blaisdell Centerwith Makana
Sting at Blaisdell Arena...

Travelling all the way from Argentina to Hawaii to attend a concert can be exhausting, but when the reward is a Sting concert, the journey turns almost into a smooth one. The 'Brand New Day' Tour involved Sting's first stop in Hawaii for nine years, and the band rocked away at Neil Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu for 1 hour and 54 minutes. No huge video screens, costume changes, explosions or fireworks. Just talent, charisma, his distinctive and expressive voice and excellent musicians.

At 8.00pm the show started on time -something unusual for the locals - and after hearing the opening act - a local musician named Makana, who lived up to expectations with a smooth acoustic mini set - and six songs off the Beatles' Abbey Road album, the lights dimmed and 'A Thousand Years' started to sound. The show was in motion. Sting appeared on stage with a white floral lei collar, dressed in black and playing the song's main riff with his black and white stratocaster guitar.

When the first song was over, he switched to his Fender P-Bass and 'After The Rain Has Fallen'/'We?ll Be Together' followed 'Set Them Free'; then 'Perfect Love Gone Wrong' took Manu Katché to the front of the stage to say a couple of words in French. After the introduction of the band, it was time for classics from 'The Soul Cages': 'All This Time' and 'Mad About You'. It was great to hear those songs again, part of probably one of the most brilliant records of the last century.

'Seven Days', 'Fill Her Up', and 'Fields of Gold' followed. Then someone from the audience gave Sting the second flower collar of the three he wore that night! The crowd exploded with 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and with Chris Botti's performance in 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', to later relax with 'Tomorrow We'll See'.

The Hawaiian audience looked pretty calm comparing it to what I am used to see in Argentina, where the crowds go wild and put a lot of passion and energy during concerts. Anyway, people couldn't stay calm with his powerful versions of 'Englishman in New York' and 'Roxanne' (a ten minutes version which included new bass riffs and improvisation in different styles), which led into clapping support for 'Brand New Day'.

'Desert Rose' was the next number, and we missed Cheb Mami's voice, which certainly adds extra power to the song. Then 'Bring On The Night'/'When The World Is Running Down' introduced me to an incredible and talented keyboard player. I had not heard Jason Rebello play before but he performed an amazing solo, definitely in Kenny Kirkland's style.

After the short break, it was time for the first encore: a slow - almost acoustic - introduction for 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' and next the song that can't be off the set list: 'Every Breath You Take'. The second encore showed everyone singing 'Message In A Bottle' and relaxing and enjoying the beautiful melody of 'Fragile'.

To sum up: every song they played was magic. Mahalo Sting!

(c) Matias Pirolo for

Sting rocks Blaisdell Arena with class and simplicity...

Until you see him in the flesh, you forget that Sting is jazz-and blues-driven. In his first concert here in nine years, the Englishman who left The Police some years ago, proved to be a gentleman and a genius in flexing his eclectic but enticing Grammy-winning rock style.

An enthusiastic crowd of about 6,500 flounced and bounced for nearly two hours of Sting last night at the Blaisdell Arena.

Appearing relaxed and congenial, Sting took the stage in a zippered black turtleneck sweater worn over gray cargo pants with zipper accents and black shoes. It took one quick song for him to doff the sweater to reveal a black undershirt, appropriately casual duds for the carefree parade of music that was to follow.

An accessible chap, he plucked an occasional lei from eager fans, made good use of the stage by playing to crowds left and right, and simply demonstrated, by his actions, that he was having a ball. His thinning, slightly tousled blond hair was cut short; he looked more like a tourist than a rock icon.

But clearly, as his original compositions demonstrated, he was primarily a storyteller (well, a sometimes actor, too, whenever he so chose) whose tales are linked to intricate melodies that often take a bit of effort to appreciate.

His 'Seven Days' typified this stance. It was a complex tune with musical tangents going every which way, not necessarily melodic but highly challenging, almost demanding the audience's full attention. With trumpet accents from band member Chris Botti (whose toots were sparingly but effectively sprinkled throughout special tunes), Sting managed to weave a vivid day-by-day countdown with rewarding results.

My, how he rocks. With a modest but effusive seven-piece band. With class, simplicity; without relying on high voltage or pyrotechnics. (His brand of ''fireworks''? A half-dozen fabric ''fires'', fueled by light and fans).

Though early rock influences of his pub days in Newcastle often found their way into the Sting of today, the dominant factor seemed to be the blues foundation.

His song of the moment, for instance, 'Brand New Day', brought the crowd up and cheering, very late into the show. ''Turn the clock to zero boss, the river's wide we'll swim across, we're starting up a brand new day,'' he sang, just like on the CD, the words demonstrating his adherence to blues, earning him that Grammy supremacy among the current crop of rockers.

Another tune, 'Englishman in New York', re-emphasized his reign, thanks to his credo reflected in that recurring line, ''Be yourself no matter what they say,'' set to a reggae tempo.

But he's also all over the map. 'Fill Her Up' started off as a country wingding, but ended up with a gospel fervour. F'ields of Gold' was a dandy sampling of his straightforward ballad style, a jazz sweetness undercoating his delivery.

He treated the cavernous arena as if it were a large lounge, looking for eye contact and inviting periodic singer clap-alongs.

(c) The Honolulu Advertiser by Wayne Harada

Sting treats fans to simple excellence...

How marvellous it is to watch an entertainer carry a show on the strength of good material and basic old-fashioned talent! That's what Sting did in the Blaisdell Arena last night.

Sting needed no elaborate high tech special effects to deliver an excellent show. No costume changes, explosions or fireworks. No large video screens or dance numbers. Talent, charisma, and good musicians more than sufficed as he gave Honolulu an impressive 1 hour and 54 minute performance that neatly covered 21 years of rock, pop and jazz flavored contemporary music.

The distinctive voice was strong and expressive throughout the performance and Sting looked as fit and muscular as ever.

Credit him and concert promoters Golden Voice and House Of Blues with starting the show on time, an almost unheard of feat in Honolulu these days. Makana opened the show almost exactly at 7 p.m. and lived up to expectations with a smooth and eclectic acoustic mini set.

When the lights dimmed again Sting ambled out unannounced with his musicians and backing vocalists. He opened the show with 'A Thousand Years', never mentioned the two Grammys he received in February, but communicated effectively, often nonverbally, throughout the show.

His choice of material was memorable not only for the individual songs but for the way they formed a musical experience.

The best analogy would be drifting almost imperceptibly on an extremely broad river. For a while we seemed to be meandering at random through his discography. There were intriguing changes in the musical landscape but no clear direction or course. Songs from 'Brand New Day', a double-Grammy winner in February, were interspersed with familiar Top 40 favorites from the 1980s and '90s. The crowd responded enthusiastically to 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', the song that launched him as a solo act in 1985, and welcomed 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' shortly afterward.

For the most part though, they sat, absorbed the music, and gave Sting and his band a standing ovation after each song.

His current material provided some of the most striking contrasts. The lightly satirical, slightly country tone found in 'Fill Her Up', the smooth modern multi-cultural urban blues ambience of 'Perfect Love...Gone Wrong' and the grim lyric images that drive 'Tomorrow We'll See', received quiet appreciation.

Somewhere during the evening the musical undercurrents began roiling the surface. Had the crowd literally been adrift there would have been a definite sensation that the currents were picking up speed. By the time 'Englishman In New York' was followed by 'Brand New Day', the crowd was standing and thoroughly involved. Sting explored Roxanne for almost 10 minutes. 'Desert Rose' proved a dramatic sequel.

Sting closed the first encore with a rendition of 'Every Breath You Take' that preserved the lyric ambiguity but suggested obsession. When he opened the second encore with Message In A Bottle the crowd united in providing the responses.

Every song he did was magic.

(c) The Honolulu Star-Bulletin by John Berger