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4.9 out of 5 stars42
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 1 December 2010
When Sting originally announced that he was going to tour with a full fifty piece orchestra and perform his best known songs I was a little sceptical. How could that possibly work? Well, five months in, it is apparent just how wrong I was to harbour any doubts. The 'Symphonicity' shows have been spectacular successes since the tour launched in Vancouver earlier this year and have since garnered glowing accolades in the media. When I attended several of the shows, I was totally blown away by the whole experience and quickly realised how short-sighted my initial scepticism had been.

'Live in Berlin' is produced by Jim Gable and Ann Kim who have been responsible for previous Sting releases such as 'A Winter's Night... Live from Durham Cathedral', 'The Journey and the Labyrinth', 'Inside The Songs of Sacred Love', and '...All This Time' as well as 'The Police: Certifiable'. They have successfully captured the feel of the 'Symphonicity' concerts and while there are obvious limitations to the presentation of a show of this size given the sheer number of musicians on stage, the clever use of three large light boxes above the stage - which occasionally provide live and video footage - light the show superbly and provide subtle, tasteful lighting throughout the concert. The DVD also includes Sting's spoken introductions to several songs, where he explains the inspiration behind a song or offers some other biographical background, and while this would be distracting in a faster paced rock concert, here it works well.

The highlights are numerous. Take for example, the unmistakable sound of special guest Branford Marsalis who adds his saxophone to 'Englishman in New York', 'Mad About You' and 'Desert Rose'. The word genius could have been coined for Marsalis who adds class to everything he touches, but the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra also has their stars. 'All Would Envy' spotlights Chris Cotter's stellar trumpet playing, and Concertmaster Gerald Gregory's violin introduction to 'Whenever I Say Your Name' is so exquisite it sends tingles down your spine.

Sting's core group, consisting of Ira Coleman (bass), David Cossin and Rhani Krija (percussion), the ever present Dominic Miller (guitar) and Jo Lawry (vocals), are outstanding, but it's worth singling out the talent that is Jo Lawry. Two tracks in particular showcase her superbly and both are duets with Sting. On 'Whenever I Say Your Name' she comfortably fills the part originally provided by the powerful Mary J. Blige - and on 'You Will Be My Ain True Love' the combination of her voice with Sting's provides a sublime result.

The 'Symphonicity' tour offers something for everyone. The hits? Check. The obscure? Check. The never before performed live? Check. Personal high spots have to include 'Why Should I Cry For You?' with its' intro borrowed from 'Island Of Souls', 'All Would Envy', 'The End Of The Game' and 'She's Too Good For Me'. But do you know what? Watch 'Roxanne' and be stunned at how Sting manages to reinterpret and refresh one of his oldest and most classic songs with cello and clarinet solos. Simply breathtaking.

Rounding off the DVD is 'A Conversation with Sting', an interview segment where he explains how the idea for the tour developed, his philosophy that songs are not museum pieces and how he constantly tries to reinvent his music. The footage where he is joined by Branford Marsalis is especially enjoyable - their easy friendship and mutual respect is immediately apparent.

All in all, this is an excellent reminder of a highly memorable tour. In our household it will also serve as a reminder not to jump to conclusions and to keep an open mind!
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on 2 December 2010
Much as you would expect from Mr Sumner and a natural progression from his 9/11 concert, but this time in much happier circumstances. The warmth of the orchestra adds to the arrangements, which seems to give the songs a new life. The production and sound is magnificent and whilst listening it feels like an intimate concert, until you see the dvd which shows the size of the arena.

A bonus on this package is the explanations that explain the composition of some of the songs, many of which throw a new light on the stories told in the lyrics.

If you are a Sting fan, you will probably buy this anyway, but if you aren't it would make a great christmas present for any music fan.
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on 5 February 2011
A wonderful album that I cannot recommend highly enough. Absolutely magic! Particular highlights include "Desert Rose", "Moon over Bourbon Street" and "Englishman in New York".
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on 22 July 2014
Saw part of this concert on the TV one evening, was so impressed that I purchased it for my husband as he really likes Sting, I have to say we have watched it a few times and he is a brilliant performer
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on 18 November 2015
I watched this on TV and have played the recording of it many times. Fabulous concert, the orchestra adds to Stings very professional stage performance. Familiar songs sung in a different way, if you're a Sting fan don't miss it!
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on 10 January 2014
Perfect! (me) and my dear Wife, who in the not too distant past held no particular affinity to the skilled song writing and harmonious vocals of said former Police front man, has finally caved in! Ably backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and skillfully supported by Jo Lawry and Dominic Miller, this live offering from Berlin is simply stunning, We adore the whole production. Superbly Brilliant! As a post script, attempt to endure some of the live visual offerings from the idols of your own teenage offspring, and then ask them to compare, You may just enjoy some half decent conversation for once!
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on 21 February 2011
I love Sting so I could be bias, But I sat down to watch and listen and was glued to my seat, I felt that Sting & the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra were in the lounge with me. it was truly wonderful I have nearly wore it out playing it to everybody, its so good.I love the new arrangements of old favourites.
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on 11 November 2014
Just brilliant. I can't say enough about this CD/DVD - if you are a Sting fan, it's a 'must have'.
The combination of Sting and his group including Jo Lawry on vocals, Dominic Miller on guitar, guest Branford Marsalis on sax, and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra with the amazing energy of maestro Steven Mercurio conducting, is electrifying.
Best of all, they look as though they are having as much fun as the audience...
I LOVE IT! (Do DVDs wear out?)
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on 12 September 2014
Love the variety of music and song in this.
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on 31 December 2010
After purchasing Symphonicities and enjoying how Sting had mixed his music with the London Symphony orchestra, this was an obvious choice for me. I liked how the music worked as the original songs took shape with classical music played with it and how the music intertwined together and took a different yet interesting shape. Some of the songs work really well with the orchestral backing and bring a new flavour to some of Sting's well known songs. I like that Sting has brought in some The Police songs like Every breath you take and King of Pain because they still remain well formed but do sound very different with this musical backing.
I do like this new project of Sting's but I don't think it's nearly as ambitious or original as his `If on a winter's night...' material which I really enjoyed, especially the Live from Durham Cathedral DVD.

This CD and DVD collection features a CD with 14 songs on it, which interestingly features 2 songs on the CD which aren't on the DVD. I find this intriguing because usually with a live CD and DVD the CD may have less songs but it doesn't have songs which aren't on the DVD. The DVD is a great live concert with 22 songs and clocks in at around 2 hours. The songs sound really interesting with the orchestral backing especially If I ever lose my faith in you and the brilliant fields of gold. Some songs I had not heard of before buying this so I only have first hand experience from here on like All would envy and End of the game but they sound good nevertheless. A couple of my favourite Sting songs Mad about you and Moon over Bourbon street take on new flavour with the orchestra but are lifted up to shine musically. The only problem that I have with Sting taking mic with these songs is that sometimes he overdoes it vocally. Instead of just singing he sometimes wails into the mic and sometimes tries to improvise with long stretched out vocals. I think it often ruins the backing music and roughens the melody. I'm not a fan of how he does this at the beginning of the beautiful intro on Mad about you. With some songs you can see which version you would prefer but songs like Shape of my heart leave you wondering if the original is any better. The orchestra makes the songs sound more elegant and give more of a sophisticated feel. It's classical music providing the veil of sound but it's Sting's brand of 'pop' which makes the listener move with the music providing beauty at both ends!

Hearing the songs through the CD is good but when you see how the orchestra works together with Sting and his musicians with a little help vocally from Jo Lawry you tend to get involved in this experience more. I love how the musicians dance together with their instruments on She's too good for me. Sting doesn't hog the limelight too much either giving credit to his musicians. I like how Sting also interacts with the audience by introducing the songs and giving their story instead of just performing them regardless. He really wants the audience to understand the music. The concert ends with basically the introduction of I was brought to my senses with only Sting singing. I thought that was a strange way to end but still, I really like that song so it did not ruin the concert at all, in fact it made it more diverse.

There is a feature called `A conversation with Sting' where Sting talks about how he made the orchestral backing work and where the idea for this project came from. He's joined by saxophonist Branford Marsalis and I found it funny how Sting tries to tell the story of how they met and Branford interrupts him and tells him he's wrong. This section helps you get a better feel for the background before the music.

It goes to show that Sting can work his music in many diverse ways with this project and even though this is different from his usual style I think it definitely works and most of his fans should be entertained by the way he has made this work. Even at 59 Sting has a great voice and can perform a great concert as shown on this live DVD.
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