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Sting: Bring On The Night
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Jan 2010 Directed by Michael Apted (Coal Miner's Daughter, Gorky Park, Enough), the film observes Sting and his new band as they rehearse and then perform their first concert, in Paris. The musicians, including Branford Marsalis (sax), Kenny Kirkland (keyboards), Darryl Jones (bass), Omar Hakim (drums), and two backing vocalists, are all superb, all with strong jazz backgrounds but a good feel for rock as well; and Sting's then-new material, drawn from his The Dream of the Blue Turtles album, is among the best of his solo career, especially "Consider Me Gone," "Children's Crusade," and the brilliant "Fortress Around Your Heart" (there are also several Police tunes, including "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle"). Equally compelling, surprisingly, are the insights, intended or otherwise, into the characters of the various participants. Sting himself is a bit of a stiff, frankly. Guarded, controlled, and not a little arrogant (he calls the pop music of the day "reactionary and racist"--except his, of course), he's in direct contrast to the others, especially the outspoken, irrepressible Marsalis, who's not at all shy about needling his basically humorless boss; Sting's manager, Miles Copeland, also has no problem saying exactly what he thinks. With a crisp digital transfer and remastered digital sound, Bring on the Night is highly recommended on every level.
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The film opens with the usual tourist shots of Paris, where the opening concert would later take place. The camera then leads us out through the streets to the surrounding countryside, to the late seventeenth-century Chateau de Courson. We enter through its doors into an opulent salon where the band is rehearsing. The juxtaposition of modern recording equipment and the room's ornate grandeur are incongruous.
The rehearsals present Sting and his band with problems of harmonies and timings that they need to put right. These scenes in themselves are of interest. Meanwhile, the film includes direct and separate interviews with the main-man and his team of highly-talented musicians about their own backgrounds and what they think about `the band'. Trudie Styler appears too, and offers appreciation that the rehearsals mean that at least Sting is no longer reading so many books! Hanging over the start of the tour is the fact that Trudie is heavily-pregnant.
We move to Paris's Theater Mogador to view the construction of the stage set, with Sting accompanied by his legendary manager Miles Copeland. Photoshoots at the Palais Royal, Palais de Chaillot and at the fountains outside the Pompidou Centre follow. Worries are expressed by Sting's management team and record-label about him going solo and playing songs at his first concert with which the audience would not be familiar.
I was dismayed to hear a few homophobic comments from the band as they drove into Paris for the concert, but then we learn that Trudie has suddenly gone into labour. To the sound of "Russians" ("I hope the Russians love their children too"), we see Sting and Trudie enter the hospital after the concert, reading the reviews in the next morning's newspapers of the previous evening's concert. Sting is present at the birth and helps cut the cord after his first son Jake emerges. The occasion moves Sting to tears - and, I must admit, so was I.
The film then cuts back to the previous night's concert, and a number of songs are featured. By the end, the audience are on their feet asking for more and Sting provides them with a solo rendition of "Message in a Bottle".
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. There was interest all the time, from the intricacies with rehearsals, from the insightful interviews, and from the traumas of childbirth, both of the love solo career and of the son.
The extras consist of music videos for "Bring on the Night", "If You Love Somebody", and "Russians". There is also a trailer, and a photo gallery.
This DVD covers the first post Police tour that Sting undertook after the acrimonious break up of the rock giant and follows the new band through rehearsals at a French stately home to their first concert performance.
The assembled musicians are outstanding, Omar Hakim on the drums, Kenny Kirkland on piano, Branford Marsalis on saxophone are the main players, although since that time Darryl Jones has entered the rock hall of fame as the Rolling Stones's touring bass player.
What impressed me most at the first time of viewing this film was how well Sting held his own with these masterful virtuosos! Obviously, they're playing music that he's written, so he's not going to look like a complete doofus, but at the same time It's obvious that he's done some serious training to reach such a high standard. In the breaks between songs in rehearsal, whenever the band try anything off the cuff, Sting is straight in there with them jamming along.
Enjoyable as the concert sequences are, I always found the pre-production segments to be the most enthralling episodes of this DVD, (perhaps that's the frustrated musician in me) so if you're interested in seeing the 'tightening up' and 'getting to know you' phases of a band rehearsing, this DVD is an essential purchase. Great Stuff.