Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

March 21, 2011

Sting ~ Live In Berlin (live)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: symphonic, folk rock, pop, British
Label: UMG
Year: 2010
Home: England

Members: Sting ~ vocals/bass
Dominic Miller ~ guitar
Rhani Krija, David Cossin ~ percussion
Jo Lawry ~ b. vocals
Ira Coleman ~ bass

Guests: Branford Marsalis ~ Sax
Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra

My first reaction within notes of the first song ("If I Ever Lose My Faith In You") was that my father would love this album. Yes, he likes Sting but this is more than Sting. This is wonderful instrumentation behind Sting's soft croon that fits like a nice leather glove. I even immediately played the first track for my spouse whose a classically trained pianist to get a second response. I should say that except for a few tracks over the years I've never been much of a Sting fan, not even a Police fan for that matter, & listened to this album on a curious whim. But, it's one of the most enchanting albums I've ever heard. This is actually a CD/DVD set with the CD featuring 14 songs from the concert, but is worth getting even if the DVD remains unwatched. This is one of those CD's people use to test the acoustics of a new stereo system because it has so many little nuances in a mainly acoustic background where you can literally hear the air between the notes ... which is due to both good production but also good songs & perfect orchestration. This features Sting's back-up band but with the special guest of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra of strings & horns who radically bring new life to Sting's songs along with Branford Marsalas's sax both up front & in the background. Many musicians have turned to orchestras to give a new twist to their songs, even from Charlie Parker to Kiss, with the results often being an orchestra that just echoes the band, but here the RPCO becomes the band & ends up being everything but a gimmick. Sting has spent much of his solo career creating songs that already have a soft almost symphonic quality so it's a pairing that almost comes somewhat expected, but the results are a totally unexpected easy listening experience that sounds enchanting & dreamlike (for example "Fields Of Gold") far beyond what Sting ever has done in the studio. The highlight "Why Should I Cry For You?", preceeded by a story about his father a milkman, could have come right out of the old British sea shanty songbook with an actual moving river via the string section moaning underneath, while "Moon Over Bourbon Street" is a lost Buster Keaton soundtrack while "Desert Rose" is nothing less than a tromp through an Arabic desert on camel with some of Sting's best vocals. "Whenever I Say Your Name" with backing vocalist Jo Lawry is a seven minute duet that is as good as any love song on the chart even given its length. Ironically, the chart-topping hits (i.e. "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You", "Englishman In New York", "Fields Of Gold", "King Of Pain") are probably the weakest in the bunch feeling like they are trying to preserve their well-known melodies too much to let loose. Some have criticized the concert for not having the kick in the songs that the studio versions do, which might be true on one hand, but the under-played aspect puts the lushness back in place & gives all the old songs a fresh impact though "Mad About You" certainly pops with spice & definetly creative arranging, let alone is introduced with an unexpected Biblical reading. What is great about this album is how every orchestra instrument is put to good use at some point in the show, from harp to nylon guitar to violin solos. Its not just one big backing band as is so often utilized by rock bands that treat symphonies as one instrument not many. For those worried that this is going to continue Sting's odd infactuation with lutes & other ancient instruments, take note there's not a lute in sight ... neither is there any electric guitar solos. If anything, this album picks up where Symphonicities left of, his previous studio album that re-examined old songs with the Philharmonic, but with a more relaxed feeling that doesn't suffering from the coldness of the studio atmosphere of overdubs. If you liked Symphonicities you'll love this.

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