Nothing Like The Sun

Paris, FR
Palais Omnisports de Bercy
Sting triumphs...

Sparkling he stands there with all his senses on full alert. Sting has just sung what comes closest to his philosophy, ''one world is enough'' - and his eyes search the audience in the split-second before the response. And then it pounds at him. Twenty thousand people finish the sentence; ''for all of us''.

It is a moment in triumph, and a moment of joy. It is these meetings between stage and auditorium that has made Stings long world-tour worth all the strains. Three hours, including intermission, in such a thoroughly musical joy that you can easily understand how it was possible to move 200,000 people in Rio together.

Within fourteen days, the 22 of June, Sting arrives at Drammenshallen. Between Paris and Oslo lay a row of German cities. Two enormous concerts in Spain were cancelled when Sting lost his voice, and one could easily detect a slight nervousness in the Sting-team prior to the opening of the three shows in Paris, destined to gather 70,000 spectators. Outside the arena there's a crowd of Frenchmen waving pieces of cardboard, hoping to get tickets. They are late by over a month, with basically no chance to get inside the doors to the huge Bércy-stadium.

Behind the doors, in the basement, in a dressing room close to the stage, Sting is lying flat on his stomach. It's 7pm, and he is receiving 45 minutes of massage from a personal masseuse. Only this way does he get to loosen up his muscles, and prepare for a stage show consisting of mainly jumping up and down.

Sting has probably learnt this from his son Jake, an industrious two-year-old who sees his mission in life is to teach his father rhythmic patterns. He uses the dressing room as a racetrack, and jumps eagerly in time with his father at the side of the stage during the concert. Both he and his sister Kate display an ability to stay up past midnight which is envied them by the local arrangers.

Sting's kids, as well as the sound-engineers kids, are only one of many elements showing that the former Police-frontman has become an adult. The maturity towards his music, and the freedom to inter-twine several styles he admits as a part of his 36 years. Despite the ecstaticness of the audience, the main character himself is extremely cool. He leaves it to younger stars to feed the many thousand body-guards in the business, takes his children by their hands, and comes and goes with almost no fuzz at all.

''I got famous at the age of 25,'' he explains. ''Had I been 18 I'd probably be dead today. I was a grown-up with a regular job, a small house and a son. I read the paper like everybody else, and write about the things that interests me. I'm not interested in cars or summer flirts.''

With his hair blowing in the wind Sting enters the stage with his musicians. And what a team! It is a line-up of musical joyeur with extreme command of a number of genres, with Branford Marsalis as the leader creating a bittersweet feeling of melancholy which characterises so many of Stings compositions.

The audience takes off at the first song; 'The Lazarus Heart', dedicated to Stings mother, who died during the recording of the album '...Nothing Like The Sun'. The chairs rocks rhythmically, and arms fly into the air when Sting does what the French loves the most; speaks French to them. The material is from his two solo albums, with the addition of a version of Squeeze's 'Tempted', and a series of Police-songs at the end of the show: 'Message In A Bottle', 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', 'Every Breath You Take'...

The auditorium only quietens down when Sting announces that he is going to sing a song in French. He has found one song from each linguistic area he has visited so far. Now he is only accompanied by a single piano and, as Jacques Brel, sings: 'Ne Me Quitte Pas'.

The audience roars, the concert is over, but Stings workday is far from over. There are record-executives' hands to be shaken, platinum records to be received, and businessmen who wants their picture taken together with the star. Even the French minister for arts and culture Jack Lang is there, and only those who knows how the French feel about their ministers can tell you what commotion that leads to.

Stings grip is firm, but his eyes are beginning to tire. He speaks inspiredly and politely. ''The time is scarce for those who wants to save the world,'' he jokes, since everyone seems speechless at the obvious fact that it is possible to be a superstar and reasonably intelligent at the same time.

''If I'm going to make more movies? In that case I have to organise my time schedule better. Make pictures on Thursdays - save the world on Fridays.''

Which song will he sing in Norwegian in Drammenshallen? ''I don't think it will be a song, but I thought I'd do ''In the hall of the mountain king'', Sting says, and demonstrates his knowledge: ''Dumdumdumdum dumdum dum, dumdum dum, dumdum dum...''

(c) Dagbladet (Norway) by Hege Duckett/translated by Carl Gjerdrum