Monday, December 9, 2013
Last night, June 20 to be exact, I made my first trip to Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor to see a show. I’ve wanted to check out the venue for a few years now and the time finally came to gas up the car and make the drive.
What made the drive (about 2 hours, 15 minutes from Portland and that includes an accident slow down early on in the trip) worthwhile? In a word: Sting. More on him in a minute.
First let’s talk about the venue. I decided to make a list of pros and cons.
If it’s an artist I like, the venue really doesn’t matter all that much. So while there are things about Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion that I mention in the above “cons” list, I am SO GLAD it’s there providing a much needed (and enormous!) performance space to entice national acts to pay Maine a visit.
In a space that size, especially when it’s outside and when it’s still light out for the first hour of the performance, I found myself experiencing sporadic detachment. There were lots of side conversations going on, beer chugging and other things that aren’t part of my typical show experience. I go to a show to experience the music. But heck, a space that size is not a listening room like One Longfellow Square or The Stone Mountain Arts Center. And it’s not supposed to be. From what I observed, fans were having a heck of a good time, the moon was out and for the love of Pete, Sting was on stage. So would I go back to Bangor’s Waterfront Pavilion for another show? In a word: ABSOLUTELY!
Now onto the music…
Sting, now 61, is still awesome. Did it take a few songs for his voice to get warmed up? Sure. But so what; he’s Sting and he can kind of do no wrong, especially when backed by guitarist Dominic Miller, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, keys player David Sancious, electric fiddler Peter Tickle and back-up vocalist Jo Lawry.
This is not to say I loved every moment. But this is because I like some of his songs more than others.
Here’s his set-list with my thoughts on every song.
“If I Ever Lose My Faith:” So-so. This song is lack-luster and not the one I would have chosen to open the show with. But the crowd seemed to dig it so I think I’m in the minority.
“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic:” I’m entirely sick of this one but the band sounded sensational.
“Englishman in New York:” Now we’re talking. Loved this one. The show started to get good at this point.
“All This Time:” I spoke too soon. This is one of the most boring Sting song’s in his catalog and the live version was no exception.
“Seven Days:” Decent. Not earth shattering but decent. This one’s from his 1993 album “Ten Summoner’s Tales” and I’ll at least give him credit for playing a “deep album track.”
“Demolition Man:” an old school Police song. Excellent!
“Fields of Gold:” I’ve always adored this song and appreciated Sting speaking of his castle home and how the song was inspired by looking out over the vast fields of barley. Live version was stellar and I want to move into said castle.
“I Hung My Head:” Sting told us how Johnny Cash covered this one. (I didn’t know that). And when I heard the first line of “Early one morning with time to kill, I borrowed Jeb’s rifle and sat on a hill,” I thought “Oh no, this isn’t going to end well.” But as it turns out, the song from 1996’s “Mercury Falling” record is darn good. Yep, Sting can even write a country song.
“Driven to Tears:” Classic Police. Brilliant. And man alive, it was like the devil went down to Bangor when Peter Tickle set his bow to his fiddle. Dazzling .
“Heavy Cloud No Rain:” Crowd sang along with this one. Well I mean Sting would belt out “Heavy Cloud” and we’d respond in kind with “No Rain.”
“Message in a Bottle:” Suffice to say, the crowd went wild. I was right there with them.
“Shape Of My Heart:” Gorgeous song.
“The Hounds of Winter:” Another album cut from “Mercury Falling.” New one for me. Thumbs up.
“Wrapped Around Your Finger:” This is still a hauntingly solid song. But the best part was when a train went rolling through, blowing its horn no less. Heck I didn’t even know there were tracks there, but the address is One Railroad St. Sting was amused. The train kept right on rolling for the entire song. It was surreal and yet perfect.
“De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da:” File this one under “tired old Police song” I know. I’m awful.
“Roxanne:” There is no doubt in my mind that Sting is sick to death of this one but its iconic and a must-play. The flashing “red light” at the appropriate moment was a cliché but fun touch.
“Desert Rose:” Loved! Shout out to back-up singer Jo Lawry. She added so much to this one. Moments into the song, two women appeared on stage. They were obvious concert goers but security let them be and they danced behind Sting for the entire song. Turns out they were invited. And someone shot footage of the whole thing and put it on YouTube. Yeah!
“King of Pain:” Again I’ll say it because I’m awful. I’ve never really liked this song and still don’t.
“Every Breath You Take:” Don’t be shocked, but I loved this one because the crowd was so into it, the band and Sting sounded fabulous and it’s still a classic (albeit stalkery) love song.
“Next To You:” One of my favorite Police songs. Yeah!!
“Fragile:” One of my favorites from Sting’s solo career. A gorgeous, somber song from 1987’s “Nothing Like The Sun” double album.
Am I tired this morning? Yep. Beyond coffee repair. Was it worth it? Do I even have to answer that?
Aimsel Ponti has been obsessed with - and inspired by- music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She's a huge fan of the local music scene and interviews an act every week for "Making Noise" which runs in the Press Herald GO section. You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets.