Damn, he looks good.
At 66, Sting is touring the globe to promote his new pop CD, 57th and 9th, so named because of the many music studios in that part of Manhattan. This past Friday, to a packed Bethel Woods audience, every seat, and every bit of lawn space was taken up for Sting’s return to the hallowed grounds of the Woodstock concert. It’s a chilly night, a bit of fall in the air. The crowd rambles around, getting their pretzels and beer while opening acts, Joe Sumner and Los Bandoleros, warm up the crowd. Sumner’s name should be familiar to those who know that Sting’s actual name is Gordon Sumner; Joe is his 41 year old son who has a remarkable resemblance to his dad, in every way, like the powerful raspy voice, facial expressions and that spiky blonde hair. At one point towards the latter part of the rockin’ show, Sting called his son over and said, “Joe, sing…your daddy’s tired.” Joe came up to the mic with his guitar and went into a rendition of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes.
But don’t get the idea that the show was anything less than a powerhouse of Sting’s greatest hits in both his solo career and with The Police. Among the crowd favorites were Roxanne, If I lost My Faith in You, Spirits in the Material World; some came with a story, like Mad About You (inspired by the Bible story of David and Bathsheba), and Message in a Bottle (written in 1977 when he lived in a tiny flat in England with the little boy that stood behind him.)
From his new release, 57th and 9th, Sting performed only two songs, One Fine Day, a song about the belief and hope that climate change is indeed a hoax, and that we’ll learn that…one fine day. And, the power driving song, Petrol Head, with Joe sharing the mic in harmony. One song that Sting has on his new release, 50,000, is a tribute to the rock and roll life, the losses of our great ones, but on how these performers can transform a crowd of thousands, having them sing his songs back to him. Sting writes “Reflecting now on my own past, Inside this prison I’ve made of myself. I’m feeling a little better today. Although the bathroom mirror is telling me something else.”
Sting has always been a thoughtful writer, telling a story, expressing lost love, being an idealist in many ways. This night, to a crowd of 15,000 with seats, and countless thousands in lawn chairs, we sang the songs back to him. Yes, we’re all getting older, but damn, we all look good.
Photos: Kevin Ferguson/Bethel Woods