As I'm sure you know, Sting just finished playing three concerts in Israel. Yours truly went to all three. (Yes, I know, but I was not the only one that crazy). For once, jetlag has stood me in good stead - I only came back from the US Saturday, so staying up late watching a concert, then driving home, then writing notes, was easy. And sleeping late the next day is "always" easy.
Anyway, what I did was write down every night my experiences at the concert of that night. I just could not mail them. But I will now, so you'll be getting notes written without foreknowledge of the concerts to come. Just as if I "could" post them on time. Enjoy (or, at least, don't suffer too much),
Sting's first ever concert in Israel happened on Sunday, September 18, 1994, 8:30 PM.
I was there when the gates opened, at 7pm. Going into the "Sultan's Pool" arena, this is what I saw: standard stage, Sting's mike front and center, Dominic's mike on the left, David's keyboards on the right, Vinnie's drums in back. The 5 meters closest to the stage were fenced off and full of people, I have no idea who they were to get that privilege. Beyond that was a rectangular flattish lawn, bordered by rather steep rocky inclines. On the two sides of the stage were large video screens. People were settling down behind the fence and on the rocks. I sat down near the fence to wait.
In short order the place filled up [the papers said 12000 people]. "Sold Out" for a place like that means that the Fire Department or Police Department or somebody decided you couldn't possibly cram more people in there without somebody getting hurt.
The Good Part: Sting was in great voice, which he did not spare. Especially towards the end, when he screamed several "Still know nothing 'bout me"s in the throat-scraping early-Police style. Guess he figured he could afford it that late in the set. Not that he didn't pay for it: "Fragile" sounded rather hoarse. There were also a couple full-hearted "Roxanne!"s, earlier. (But he did "Roxanne" too slow to suit the audience, who were singing much faster than him. Stewart "pushing the beat" Copeland would have loved us). He was also in good lungs, sustaining some notes full-voiced until the audience had to applaud to get him to shut up. The band were tight, playing well and hard. The sound system was good. The video picture was focussed and in sync with the sound (which is not always the case). The weather was nice, tho perhaps a bit too warm. (We were sweating in our T-shirts at 10PM in Jerusalem, which usually requires a jacket at night. Sting was dripping all over the stage.) It was not nearly as hot as the heatwave the country had just had, 40C days and 30C nights. Trudie Styler (Sumner now, I suppose) was in the fenced-off front area, looking great. (I heard guys around me say what a sexy babe Sting had for a wife). The audience was good, singing along with everything, cheering, doing everything a band could possibly want.
The Bad Part: This was exactly the same concert I saw in #####Massachussetts in May 1993. If there are new songs on the Greatest Hits album, he ain't playing them. He's also not playing any of the other 100 or so songs in his back catalog (Police & pre-TST). I don't know how they keep from going crazy. Perhaps they are making tiny variations - an extra trill here, a different chord there - but my ear isn't good enough to pick that up. As far as I can tell, these songs were done identically, the same differences from the album version as I remembered. He didn't do "Mad about You" in honor of Jeruslem ("A stone's throw from..."), didn't do the Hebrew "Fragile", nothing. Even the T-shirts sold ($18) were leftovers from the previous world tour - neither Israel or South Africa is mentioned on them.
Sting didn't talk much. After the first song he told us "Good Evening, Jerusalem" in Hebrew. After another, he said, "It's been a long time, but we're here. Thanks for inviting us." And after the third, "How are you?" When our cheers didn't satisfy him, he asked "How are you?" again, and seemed to accept the response. Then there was nothing more until the final "Thank you, Jerusalem. Bring us back, and God bless". He didn't even tell us the story of "It's Probably Me", perhaps he didn't want to bore us with a long story in English. Neither did he give us a political lecture, for which I suppose I should be grateful. And he didn't comment on the full moon, even for "Sister Moon". He also didn't take his shirt (dark blue tunic, long sleeved!) off for the encore, despite the heat. Major disappointment... Nor did he go through the pantomime that once accompanied "Would she prefer it if I washed myself more often than I do/Would she prefer it if I took her to an opera or two/I could distort myself to be the perfect man/She might prefer me as I am".
Despite the scores of times he's played the exact same gig, Sting managed to flub a line in "Synchronicity II" and misplace a whole verse of "Englishman in NY". On the other hand, he didn't miss a single note in "Fragile".
Personal: I probably would have enjoyed this concert a lot more if I had found the right place to stand. As it was, I was crushed to death with 1-2 people between me and the fence around the front area. And the 1-2 people were taller than I, so I couldn't see very well. And it was hellishly hot in that press of bodies, and wet. Halfway through the show, I gave up and forced my way to the back. It being crowded, I could not find a spot to stand where I could see the stage (have I already mentioned I'm short?), so I had to make do with the video screen.
For tomorrow I will try much harder to get in the privileged area - and, failing that, will go back and up to where I could see with my binoculars.
I must also hope that Sting spoke the truth when he said in a newspaper interview that he likes to vary the music in concerts, and will do something different (other than substitute "Penny Lane" for "A Day in the Life") tomorrow. Maybe he was just unsure about the first gig in an unknown country, and didn't want to take any chances, so he did the set he's most familiar with. Now that he knows we don't bite, he'll do something else. Yeah. Right.
Set List (for those who don't know it yet):
I do have a little story of my own concerning Sting's live performance.
I went to see 2 of his TST concerts in Israel. The first one was in Jerusalem in the beautiful Sultan's pool. The beautiful view of the old city's wall, and David's tower made it all very special and there was a great Atmosphere. Of course, me and my friend (who lives in Jerusalem) along with all the thousands of people waited anxiously for "Mad About You", not only becuase it was the perfect song for that moment but because of the lyrics (a stone's thrown from JERUSALEM...). It was even the right PLACE for this song...as you can guess, or probably know - he didn't sing this song, and we were very disappointed.
The second concert was supposed to be held in Tel-Aviv, but about a week before he came here he transfered the concert to Rishon-le-Zion, which is my home-town.
Needless to say I was very excited about it - instead of getting stuck in traffic for hours - I can simply cross the road..
When Sting got on stage, we expected him to say something. He didn't say much but - "Good evening, TEL-AVIV..." I guess he forgot about the transfer. Anyway, both of the concerts were great, and I enjoyed them both very much. I'm looking forward for the next tour!
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