Tuesday, 20 March 2012

20th March 2012: Sting - Hammersmith Apollo, London (Sort of Review)

This conversation may or may not have taken place...

Phone Call: Good afternoon Sir, my name is Gordon and I am calling from Sting Enterprises, may I speak with Mr. Forever please?

GiggingForever: Um, yes, speaking...

Gordon "Sting" Sumner: How are you today, Sir?

GF: Er, great thanks.

GS: I'm glad to hear it, Sir. I'm just calling you today Sir as a courtesy call to let you know about the fantastic deals we have today if you come back to Sting as a valued former customer.

GF: Oh right, ok...

GS: First of all, Sir, I just have to go through some security questions. Can you tell me you mother's maiden name, postcode and 46 digit passcode please?

GF: No I sodding well can't, you called me! How do I know you're the real Sting?

GS: Dee-ya-yaaaaay-oh!

GF: Oh, alright then.

GS: So I see from my records that you were a valued customer from 1993 until 2001, would you mind telling me why you ended up leaving us?

GF: Well, to be honest, I thought "Brand New Day" was a bit ropey, although it still had enough good songs on it for me to pay out to see you at the Albert Hall on the tour.

GS: Thank you very much, Sir.

GF: Um, sure. Anyway, then you did that bloody awful acoustic live album where you turned all of your songs into these horrible lounge/ jazz arrangements. It was then that I began to realise that all was not well.

GS: But, Sir, that album was recorded on September the 11th, you can't blame us for being a bit subdued.

GF: No, fair point, sorry. Anyway, then your next new album had a duet with Mary J Bilge on it.

GS: You mean Mary J Blige.

GF: I know what I mean. Anyway, that was the last straw, to be honest. I played that album once and gave it away, and that was that I'm afraid.

GS: I'm sorry to hear you feel that way, Sir. We really valued your custom for all those years and would love to have you back.

GF: Well, I'm willing to talk. What have you been up to since then?

GS: Well, after that, I decided that rock music was beneath me, so I took up the higher pursuit of lute playing. I recorded a lute album for Deutsche Grammophon, you know.

GF: Yeah, I heard.

GS: Anyway, after touring daytime TV with that for a while, I moved on to my next project, a winter album.

GF: Oh right. What, like a Christmas album? We could use more up to date Christmas rock songs.

GS: Well, it wasn't really that rock.

GF: Did it have lutes on it?

GS: Yeah... Anyway, after that was something I know you will love, an orchestral album, reinterpreting my best songs as orchestral arrangements with a variety of respected orchestras. You're a sucker for bands plus orchestras, aren't you?

GF: Well, yeah, normally, but you know, Peter Gabriel got there before you last year and frankly that was on the verge of acceptability.

GS: But it had a really great name- Symphonicities.

GF: That's awful. What did you actually want again?

GS: Well, James, may I call you James?

GF: No.

GS: Well, James, I'm calling today to tell you about a fantastic new offer for former customers coming back to us. For one tour only, I'm offering you the chance to see me play bass and sing, with an actual band.

GF: Ok, that actually sounds alright. Will you play good songs?

GS: Oh yes, James. I'll play classics from throughout my career, with drums and everything.

GF: Hmm, alright then. And no bloody violins?

GS: Well, no, I have two great violinists in my new band, they play some amazing solos where normally there'd be keyboard or guitar solos.

GF: So, you don't have a keyboard or guitar player?

GS: No keys, no, but honestly nobody misses them. The violinists are really good. One of them is a hot Australian chick who also sings her lungs out, frankly she's better than I am. We do have two guitar players, too, Dominic Miller and his son.

GF: So why don't they play the solos?

GS: Because we have two violinists.

GF: You know what, that's actually pretty cool. And did I hear right, that you have Vinnie Colaitua on drums? He's a proper legend.

GS: Too flipping right we have. Also, it's got a really clever name ... "Back to Bass".

GF: Don't give up the day job, Gordon.

GS: So can we interest you in a ticket today, James?

GF: Well, I dunno. Aren't you just going to play the same old hits I saw you play twice in the 90s and once in 2007 with the Police?

GS: Well, you know, I like to keep my audience happy. I start off with some proper hits to get everyone in the mood, 'All This Time', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', 'Seven Days'...

GF: That's a pretty rocking start, some of my favourite songs right there.

GS: Exactly! So, would you like to make an order then today, James?

GF: Well, hang on, what else are you playing? 

GS: Well, in the encores I play three more Police tracks, including 'Message in a Bottle', but get this... I do it solo on an acoustic guitar, and get the crowd to sing half the vocals! How great is that?

GF: Um... Yeah, I can't help but feel you're keeping something from me. What's in the main body of the setlist?

GS: Well, I play no fewer than four songs from "Sacred Love", for starters.

GF: Four? That's more than you play from any of your other albums, AND it's easily your worst album. Will I suddenly find a new appreciation for these tracks when done live?

GS: Inside is pretty cool, yeah- you'll dig that one.

GF: Alright, what else?

GS: Three tracks from 'Mercury Falling', one from 'Brand New Day' , and one B-side from the 'Brand New Day' sessions, that's just for starters. 

GF: That doesn't sound awfully inspiring - unless that B-side is 'End of the Game', because that's way better than anything that made the album.

GS: It totally is.

GF: Alright then. But look, do you actually play anything from your best albums, you know the ones from 1985 to 1993?

GS: I play 4 songs from 'Ten Summoner's Tales', which my records show is one of the first rock CDs you ever bought and is a huge favourite of yours.

GF: Well, that's promising. Do you do 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You?' I love that one.

GS: Don't be silly.

GF: What about anything from your first 2 classic albums, the ones that made your solo career a success?

GS: I do 'Fortress Around Your Heart'. That's a good song.

GF: True, true. Is it recognisable or do you bugger about with it until it breaks?

GS: The second one.

GF: *Sigh*. Look, even if I did want to come, I don't think I know anyone else who'd be seen dead at a Sting concert. Especially not after the Lute fiasco.

GS: How about your old friend Mark S, the one who came with you all the other times you saw me? 

GF: Hmm, that's true, I've not been out with Mark for a while, it'd be nice to have a catch up. And you have thoughtfully put a fair few shit songs in the setlist so we can buy, drink and relieve ourselves of beers all night without missing anything. Aright then, I'm in, how much are the tickets?

GS: That's excellent Sir, well for one day only the tickets will be the special price of £76.50 - after today the tickets will only be available from our preferred partner SeatWave for £250.

GF: £76.50? Seventy-six f*&^%ing pounds? I saw Roger Waters perform "The Wall" at the O2 for less than that. And he had a wall. And lasers and stuff. Do you have a wall, or lasers?

GS: There is a wall at the back of the stage, yes.

GF: That's not quite what I meant. What *do* you have?

GS: I wear a really tight vest so you can see all my rippling muscles.

GF: You're not really helping. How about support? Do you have a support band?

GS: No, but there's a tape of plinky plonky music that plays for an hour before I come on and again after I leave the stage.

GF: That doesn't sound very exciting. Mightn't that prevent people from really getting in the rock'n'roll spirit? 

GS: Oh, well there's no danger of that anyway, Sir, the gig starts at 8 and finishes at 10. You'll be home in time to write it up on your fantastic blog before you go to sleep.

GF: Oh, you old charmer you... alright then, you've twisted my arm. Seventy Six quid you say?

GS: That's correct sir, there'll just be a service fee of nine pounds per ticket to add onto that.

GF: ...

GS: I can assure you it will be worth every penny, Sir.

GF: It had sodding well better be, or you'll know about it from my review.

GS: You have a fantastic day, Sir... oh, and Sir, could you perhaps refrain from mentioning tantric sex in your review? That's getting really old now.

GF: Whatever.


Epilogue - March 21st:

Phone Call: Good morning, Sir, this is just a courtesy call from Sting Enterprises to see how you enjoyed last night's gig. 

GF: Yeah, did you read my review? 

GS: Well, actually, yes I did, Sir, but I assumed there must be some kind of mistake.

GF: No, there's not.

GS: That's not your actual review, is it?

GF: Yeah, it is.

GS: Is it possible, Sir, that you actually got so drunk with your friend Mark before, during and after the gig that you failed to make any notes on the show and as such had to resort to typing out a load of cheap gags and foul language on your phone on the train home, in order to have something to put on your pathetic little journal?

GF: *Cough* Bye!

Sting Setlist:

- All This Time
- Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
- Seven Days
- Demolition Man
- I Hung My Head
- I'm so Happy, I Can't Stop Crying
- Driven to Tears
- Stolen Car
- Fortress Around Your Heart
- Fields of Gold
- Sacred Love
- Ghost Story
- Heavy Cloud, No Rain
- Inside
- Love is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)
- Hounds of Winter
- The End of the Game
- Never Coming Home
- Desert Rose
- Every Breath You Take
- Next to You
- Message in a Bottle


  1. I salute you, sir.

    "GS: I do 'Fortress Around Your Heart'. That's a good song.

    GF: True, true. Is it recognisable or do you bugger about with it until it breaks?

    GS: The second one."


  2. Priceless

    (...or should that be 'pricey'?)

  3. I'm never going to be able to go back to the standard review format after this... All the previous entries seem so, I dunno, regular.

  4. That's properly fantastic, that is. =)

  5. Clever writing, well done sir.

  6. Came to this late but...brilliant. What a cracking read.

    1. Thanks very much everyone! Is it the mark of a good piece of writing when you can go back and read it yourself for the 40th time and still chuckle?

      Or is it just extreme egotism?