Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Arresting

I used to go to a lot of concerts when I was younger and thanks to several years of being a chaperone/companion for my sister during her early adolescence and later heavy metal phase, I’ve been the (sometimes) lucky recipient of a varied musical exposure. Sinead O'Connor, Juluka, John Mellencamp (my choices) have been mixed with Depeche Mode, Skid Row - Loudest. Band. Ever - and Guns N’ Roses (her choices and the last one, by the way? Put on one of the best shows I've ever seen, much to my surprise, as before I went to concert, I really didn’t like them. Another lesson for me to do my research before I open my big mouth and opine).

There were several years where I went to every Sting concert that came through Toronto. I figured it was the least I could do, given that he’s my pretend boyfriend. Or one of them. That's the great thing about imaginary relationship - it's OK to diversify! Which I do, including Sean Connery, Peter Dinklage, Colin Firth on the list and I could go on, but won't, although why I'm being concerned about embarrassing myself when I've already publicly admitted to an imaginary harem, I don't rightly know. The point is that for as long as I can remember, Sting has been on the top of my list and not just because of his good looks (which are very good indeed) but because of his talent. I may not always have been completely thrilled with the directions of his artistic growth, but I've never found him boring and isn't that the main thing to look for in a boyfriend, whether he is imaginary or real? Less surprising than GN’R, my other "best concert ever" was the Nothing Like the Sun tour, at which I for the first (and so far last) time in my life squealed like an adolescent girl during a moment of enthusiastic fan appreciation (we had good seats. He took his shirt off. 'Nuff said). Apparently, today I have no shame in terms of what I share with you, but I hope that some of you will take pity on me and share equally excited/embarrassing stories from your past. Anyway! Onwards!

Funnily enough, despite my concert history, I never got to see The Police live, mostly due to the fact that by the time I arrived in a country that had frequent big concerts, the band broke up. I've always regrettrf never getting to see one of my favourite - then and now - bands live. Until this past Sunday when my friend Sue and I had tickets to the reunion tour. It was amazing, incredible, wonderful, everything I ever thought it would be and more. The opening band was Fiction Plane (don't click on that if you're at work and don't want your boss asking questions about the music coming out of your speakers), fronted by Joe Sumner, Sting’s son. Who sounds like his dad and moves like his dad. It was very discombobulating. I could go on about the concert itself, but there are a gazillion reviews out there – don’t believe the ones written by people whose lives seem driven by the opportunity to sneer at Sting. Never quite got that and not just because I like listening to the beautiful man.

It's been awhile since I've been to a concert and it's been even longer since I've been to a big concert. Things have changed.

We were welcomed to the Air Canada Centre by some very cheerful and polite stormtroopers requesting that the throngs open their bags and purses for inspection prior to being led in. Once inside - and oh, boy, is the Air Canada Centre ever big - frighteningly good behaviour continued. I did not once smell any weed (OK, I'll give them that, after all, it was inside), there was a barricade between the front row seats and the stage (which later turned out to be space for the cameras which were broadcasting pictures up on the large screens, so everyone up in the nosebleed section could see something more than tiny stick figures. It still created a sense of separation and distance between the performers and audience) and although there was dancing, everyone stayed by their seats. No moshpit, no dancing in the aisles. It was all very civilized - far more civilized than any concert I've ever been to. Maybe due because of the age of the audience, which tended to veer towards middleaged, although there was a surprising amount of people there who weren’t born when the band broke up. Strange. Weirdest of all: the show started on time. Never in my life have I been to a concert that started on time and my mind boggled over this for most of the night. I mean, I was home by 11:15!

Thankgodfully, some things haven’t changed. The sound was loud. Loud enough to feel the bass in your heart and to make you half deaf (had to pop my ears afterwards to hear anything but distant voices below an ocean-like whoosh). After a while, the barricaded camera area didn’t matter anymore and the energy of a live show with an engaged audience was just as great as it always is. There’s something about doing a call and response between the singer and 20,000 enthusiastic fans that transcends mere singing and makes you understand mass hysteria (this also brought home by the screaming and hollering when the lights went down and then up again revealing Sting, Stewart and Andy. My voice is still a mite raspy). Many songs and several encores later, we went home, full and happy, floating on little clouds of equal parts nostalgia (satisfied by hearing the old hits) and appreciation (enjoying the reworking of the old hits).

They’re coming back in November. I’m trying very hard not getting tickets for that show, too.


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