Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Sting - Live In Berlin (2010)


Recorded live in Berlin with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

I was pleasantly surprised by this live album. I had been concerned that the presence of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra would over-orchestrate the sound - too many strings, not enough bass, guitar and drums. This is actually not the case at all. Although there is not a conventional rock band backing Sting, there is a solid bass, rhythmic percussion, keyboards and intermittent saxophone throughout the album. It is certainly not a case of Sting singing his songs against a predominantly orchestral backing. Well-known tracks such as "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You", "Englishman In New York" and "Fields Of Gold" are performed recognisably. Yes there is additional orchestration, but it doesn't turn them into new tracks. The orchestra blends perfectly with Sting and his musicians. There is more obvious influence from the orchestra on later tracks, but it certainly never overwhelms Sting. It subtly augments the songs.

There are tracks where the orchestra really comes into its own, though, and interacts beautifully with Sting and the bass/percussion. The bass sound, rhythm and gentle guitar are beautiful on this moving song. One such number is the evocative "The End Of The Game". "Tomorrow We'll See" and "All Would Envy" are similarly impressive. "Whenever I Say Your Name" is wonderful too, with excellent additional lead vocals from Jo Lawry and some sumptuous Branford Marsalis saxophone (the kind Sting loves to use).

"Why Should I Cry For You?" is hauntingly beautiful and "Shape Of My Heart" features some delicious Spanish-style acoustic guitar and a subtle backing from the orchestra. The jazzy "Moon Over Bourbon Street" is given an interesting new makeover to be about Sting being followed by a vampire in New Orleans' French Quarter, with additional instrumental atmospheric sound effects. "Mad About You" is chock full of superb inventive instrumentation. The Police's "King Of Pain" does not suffer for the additional orchestration, it is delivered just as powerfully. There is a convincing case to be made for this version being the better one. The Eastern-influenced "Desert Rose" is also mightily impressive. "Fragile" is as good as it always is.

The whole album is a triumph, for me. Eminently listenable. Great sound quality too.


1. If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
2. Englishman In New York
3. Fields Of Gold
4. Why Should I Cry For You?
5. All Would Envy
6. Tomorrow We'll See
7. The End Of The Game
8. Whenever I Say Your Name
9. Shape Of My Heart
10. Moon Over Bourbon Street
11. Mad About You
12. King Of Pain
13. Desert Rose
14. Fragile


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