(Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI - November 6th, 2011)
Sting’s Back To Bass tour came to Detroit's beautiful Fox Theatre last night. Performing his greatest hits and more, all stripped down to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his solo career, it was one incredible night to behold, believe me!
“Hello, Detroit,” Sting says, as he takes to the stage - and a standing ovation. ‘All This Time’ is the first song, and unlike most all concerts at the luxurious Fox Theatre (that I’ve ever witnessed), the audience didn’t sit right back down and be ‘polite’ in their seats! Nope, far from it, for this audience made sure they got no value for money from their seats and choose to stand for every song that wasn’t a ballad!
After the opening song, Sting then pays compliments to the beautiful, truly stunning Fox Theatre, before acknowledging the city again. “Detroit, it’s great to be here tonight. Wow, this place is incredible. I’ve never been here before.” Then we get the reggae-flavored ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,’ before stopping (too early in my mind) to intro the entire band!
The beautiful ‘Seven Days’ is next and is followed by the frantic fan-favorite rock song ‘Demolition Man.’ With a simple stage, dressed in black, it’s the spray of white strip light beams from behind him that make the stage suddenly seem 4x as big! “I’m gonna bring you down now,” Sting laughs, as he begins his Storyteller vibe of the night. “This is a song about divorce,” he adds before ‘I’m So Happy’ comes forth. “I have a great love for country songs,” he further reveals, “I don’t know why though as I’m English and come from the North East! This is a song from the late, great Johnny Cash,” he introduces, as ‘Hung My Head’ is next.
After a loud round of applause for the song that sounded oh-so-great, Sting then talks about his writing ethic. About his process. In this case, for ‘Stolen Car,’ he reveals he simply went for a walk in the woods with an iPod on random shuffle. That said, he also nearly put his foot in his mouth, as he remarks that the song is about a physic car thief, and that the latter was a dying job - which was something Detroit should know about! The rock-driven ‘Driven To Tears’ has everyone back up on their feet, the stage beautifully lit.
His voice is incredible, CD-quality still, his passion for playing is ageless. His desire to slap-beat his worn, beaten bass guitar obvious to all. “Before I came here today I looked into how many Detroit shows I’d played. There’s been quite a few, but the first one was at Bookies, back in 1978. I was 10,” he laughs. He then relates a story of a golden field that sits alongside his castle in England, before rolling into ’Fields Of Gold.’ “The next song is about two of my favorite subjects - sex and religion,” he admits, before he sings ‘Sacred Love.’ Sting then tells a long tale of how Halloween originated in England ie: All Hallows' Eve, before revealing that “… this song is about my daddy. We had a difficult relationship. ‘Ghost Story’ says things I should have said to him when he was still alive.” A dark, moody song, Sting alone center stage with two solo white spots beamed down on him. As the song ends, he cocks his head to the side and looks up to the heavens, as the final lyrics ’I must have loved you’ are uttered. The standing ovation is incredible, passionate and has Sting repeatedly thanking everyone.
“Heavy cloud ...”, he then shouts into the audience, to which he gets the correct response of ‘No Rain’ back, before he begins to talk about his partner of 30 years, Trudi. He tells us that there’s no magic formula to their success, but that over the years she has healed him, fixed him, and made him whole. He then adds that she can also annihilate him at any given moment, which gets a huge laugh. ‘Inside’ is the song that follows. A song that features a last three minutes where he lyrically relates ‘love like …’ to 100 different things, it is incredible that he never slips up or lyrically trips up!
Sting then tells us he has a passion for Westerns, with his favorite being ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ followed by ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.’ He then tells us he thought it would be kinda fun to conflate the two stories together in ‘Love Is Stronger.’ The song includes an incredible bass vs. fiddle duel which sees Peter Tickell nearly burn the strings off his instrument! The standing, prolonged ovation for Tickell seems to embarrass him, as he slinks back to the shadows of the stage set. “This is a song about being really cold,” he says, as ‘Hounds of Winter’ is sung next. Featuring a wickedly incredible controlled-wail from backing singer Jo Lawry, her time in the spotlight was perfectly timed.
Sting then talks about fox hunting, how he had respect for the woodland creatures, until one got into his chicken coup and killed all of them. Still, he shows love for foxes with the song he wrote about two of them, one male one female, and their life and death in ‘The Death of The King.’ With no chat in-between, Sting and his full-on band, backed by some beautiful stage light work, launch into ‘Never Coming Home.' Inclusive of more great fiddle work from Tickell, once done, all come to the front of the stage, bow and wave goodbye.
Just some sixty-seconds later, Sting and his band mates re-take the stage and bring us one of the best songs of the night - the incredible ‘Desert Rose.’ Complete with hip shakes from Sting and ethnic vocal expressions in its midsection, the audience applauds it for a full two minutes at its close. Sting then rolls straight into ‘Every Breath You Take,’ before he re-introduces the band again. “Detroit, thank you … goodnight,” he waves, and is gone once again. Swiftly back again for a brilliantly-frantic ‘Next To You,’ he ends it with his trademark guitar-wearing, sideways stage jump.
And, as the band leave the stage, he goes to, but grabs an acoustic guitar instead, walks back center stage, takes a seat on a stool, and under a bright white spot, brings us an exceptional version of ‘Message In A Bottle.’ “Detroit, I love you, goodnight,” Sting says, finally meaning it. For, as he leaves the stage for the last time, the house lights come on, the house music begins to play, and the audience prepares to leave - their collective ears still stinging!
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk