Sacred Love

Delhi, IN
Dilli Haat Groundswith None
Sting wows his Delhi audience...

Mixing his new found love for techno dance vibes with his traditional mix of rock and jazz, music icon Sting had thousands of fans eating out of his hands when he performed in the capital on a cold winter night.

The biting cold that had settled on the city after a brief afternoon shower seemed to dissipate almost instantaneously as Sting took the stage in west Delhi's Dilli Haat grounds in Pitampura Sunday night with his seven-piece band.

Kicking off his show with 'Send Your Love', a high-energy track from his latest album 'Sacred Love', Sting didn't slow down at all before launching into a blistering version of 'Message In A Bottle', one of his major hits from his days with the band Police.

Greeting about 10,000 cheering, dancing and orderly fans with ''Namaste, Delhi,'' the 53-year-old rocker took them on a musical journey that spanned all phases of his career.

Mixing solo hits like 'Englishman In New York', 'Fields Of Gold' and 'All This Time' with old Police nuggets like 'Roxanne' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', Sting soon had the fans singing along.

Behind him, the band was like a tight, well-oiled machine, providing just the right groove for the tracks.

Dominic Miller's airy guitar runs mingled with jazzy piano of Jason Rebello and the duo of Joy Rose and Donna Gardier made a lot of fans with their superb backing vocals.

Even when Sting brought out the old hits, they were completely retooled - 'Roxanne', the Police's ode to a sex worker, was turned into an extended jazz jam that featured a lot of improvised interplay between Sting's throbbing bass guitar and the thundering drums of Keith Carlock.

''The sound was so nice and loud that I could feel the thump of the drums in my stomach,'' said Sheetal Jain, who was standing right in front of a tower of speakers at the side of the stage, which was tastefully decorated.

''It's so nice to watch a show by a musician who really rocks and doesn't depend on a bunch of dancers and monitors flashing all kinds of videos to keep the crowd going. This is real music,'' said Vinoto Sema, a student from Nagaland.

This was the first time Sting had sung in the Indian capital since 1988, when he toured the country with Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel for Amnesty International. And the fact was not lost on Sting, an avowed India-lover.

''I last played here in 1988, and I was 10 years old then,'' he quipped, drawing loud cheers from the audience, a motley mix of the young and old.

But it was the older songs like 'Roxanne', 'Fragile' and 'Shape Of My Heart' which drew the biggest response from the crowd, as people sang along with Sting.

Sting also traded in his trademark bass for an acoustic guitar for 'Fragile' and 'Shape Of My Heart', showing off some fancy fretwork.

And the absence of Cheb Mami did not prevent Sting and his band from turning in a great rendition of 'Desert Rose', his hit of a few years ago recorded with the Algerian star.

Sting saved one of his best known songs - 'Every Breath You Take', a track about obsession and possessiveness that is often mistaken for a love song - for the encore before closing the show with the haunting strains of 'A Thousand Years'.

Not that the fans were satisfied. Many lingered around, chanting ''Sting, Sting'' in the hopes of a second encore that was not to be.

But then, Sting did promise he would be back in India before leaving the stage.


Sting holds Delhi spellbound...

Gordon Sumner, dressed in pin-striped black trousers and black shirt, said 'Namaste... it's been a while' and won Delhi over, even before he hit the first musical note. Over 6,000 people rocked for two hours as the Sting spell was cast on them at the Dilli Haat grounds in Pitampura on Sunday.

Braving the chilly Delhi drizzle and traffic jams up to Dhaula Kuan, a melange of people came together to attend the concert - from celebs like Indian rock band Euphoria and sarod maestros Aman and Ayan Ali Bangash, to a generous sprinkling of grey heads. And Sting disappointed no one.

The singer, who had just flown in from Varanasi, crooned to all-time favourites like 'Message In A Bottle', 'Sacred Love' (which he dedicated to India saying that just like the country, the song was about sex and religion) and 'Englishman in New York'.

The audience was in for a pleasant surprise as the concert started at 7pm sharp and ended at 9.20pm. The parking arrangements that has been demarcated according to the ticket prices were also well-organised, as was the security.

Except for slow-moving traffic around the grounds, there was no problem at all. We did not have any trouble with the security either,'' said a young couple.

''He has a much better stage presence than Bryan Adams,'' said a fan. Two giant projectors beaming down at the crowds and the Metro speeding across the Pitampura skyline made for an electrifying set. The singer took a break after the first hour, leaving crowds thirsting for more. The constant clamour and loud cheers were finally rewarded with the hit song 'Desert Rose' driving the audience wild. Sting then wrapped up the ecstasy with 'Every Breath You Take'.

At 9.10 pm, when Sting took a bow, Delhi had not had nearly enough. It took 10 minutes more of jamming before Delhi would let go of their star performer.

(c) The Times of India

Delhi left Sting-struck...

'Sting', says the placard propped against a lamppost on Pitampura main road, its large black arrow pointing right. On Sunday evening, it's the only word that matters in all of Delhi. Five 'o' clock onwards, the city's population is divided into the haves, the ones with passes and tickets, and the have-nots.

The metal skeleton of a stage rears above the Dilli Haat grounds in Pitampura - a rather inadequate venue for a concert by one of the world's greatest music stars. The crowd, pressing as close as possible to the barrier before the stage, stares hungrily at the dust covers on the music equipment, eyes peeled for anyone coming into view. An assistant gets huge claps for taking the cover off the drums. ''It was the most beautiful sight ever,'' sighs a fan to her boyfriend. You've seen nothing yet, girl!

By seven, there is just about room enough to turn around. Every pause in the taped music causes hearts to stop. Is it he on the stage? Nope. More taped music. But the volume is rising, and so is hope.

The accompanists take their places. The strobe lights throw up crisscrossed bands of colour on the makeshift white background. The music from the amplifiers is now more than just sound. It is a throbbing in the head, chest and legs. The crowd is baying, almost.

Then, Sting bursts onto the stage. The baying turns into screaming. Without breaking his stride, he starts on the guitar. 'Send Your Love', from 'Sacred Love', is the opening track. The people send theirs, conveyed through the frenzied wails de rigueur in pop/rock concerts. The bodies sway of their own volition, the eyes are unblinking, focused absolutely on the figure in black suit on the stage, his voice blocking out all thought.

It is the kind of instant hypnosis that makes recording company bosses cry with happiness. But it is impossible to be blasé about Sting. In an era of boy bands and girl bands, no clothes, and soppy lyrics punctuated with 'baby' and 'baby doll', Sting is a different story altogether, his music free of the straitjacket of genres or age groups.

''Namaste Dilli,'' Sting bellows at the end of the third song, stopping to introduce his accompanists. He will be 54 later this year, but his bounding energy as he runs across the stage to give every part of the audience a chance to claw the air shows that Sting, like his music, keeps fatigue at bay. And if the working throat muscles visible on the giant screen close-up is any proof, he gives his hundred per cent to fans. This is no lip sync singer.

An hour into the concert, people are still pouring in. As the bodies are packed tighter and tighter, the whole mass moving as one, Sting goes into top gear with 'Roxanne'. The song marks the 'greatest hits' part of the concert; it is followed by 'Desert Rose' and the song that still reputedly brings him $2,000 a day, 'Every Breath You Take', released the same year as Michael Jackson's 'Billy Jean', David Bowie's 'Let's Dance', Billy Joel's 'Uptown Girl' and Boy George's 'Karma Chameleon'. All were massive hits; only one has withstood time.

When the lights go out after two hours of glorious music, people mill around the venue, unwilling to leave. The show over, the magic remains.

(c) The Hindustan Times

Sting rules the senses...

A 300 sq-feet stage. 16,000 kg of equipment. Fabulous lighting and Sting belting out his all time hits. His 'sacred love' with fans in Delhi and Bangalore would only have been reinforced after the magical concerts. ''This song owes something to India,'' said Sting as he broke into 'Sacred Love'. For those not clued in, the number speaks of sex and religion.

The grand opening was completely justified. In both concerts Sting began with 'Send Your Love' as he lifted and dipped the tempo with classics like 'Fragile', 'Fields of Gold', 'Desert Rose', 'Every Breath You Take' and an improvised version of 'Roxanne'.

Sting's musicians were super, as expected. Guitarist Dominic Miller regaled the audience with his groovy riffs and rock-star charisma and Joy Rose stood out with her high-pitched vocals.

Among the 15,000 fans letting their hair down at Pitam Pura were Anaida and Luke Kenny of Channel V. Although real music lovers formed a majority of the crowd but there were some in the audience who didn't know the difference between 'Roxette' and 'Roxanne'. Although Sting's hits like 'English Man In New York' and 'Roxanne' were highly improvised, his little bit of dancing around sure made the crowd happy. So much so that in the absence of autograph books, fans picked up placards to get them autographed. Soon, many Delhiites picked up placards reading Ladies Toilet - Sting Live written on them.

He began with a sold out concert at Bangalore on February 4. With 20,000 screaming fans thronging the Palace Grounds, Bangalore saw more interaction between the audience and the artist. But Delhi had some fabulous lighting and better sound.

Percussionist Sivamani, choreographer Shiamak Davar, industrialist Gautam Singhania and singer Shibani Kashyap were among the audience at Bangalore.Sting visited Varanasi in industrialist-MP Vijay Mallya's personal HS-125 plane. He spent a day and a half in the holy city, meditating most of the time. ''It was a small gesture. Sting wanted to see some parts of our beautiful country and I did my bit. The show was superb like all DNA shows,'' said Mallya.

Delhi's traffic cops deserve a pat on the back. Still, there is scope for improvement as Bangalore not only had better signage but more volunteers and better rest rooms as well.

Also we need more world class musicians like Sting to come here and perform. The last word: Delhi knows its music as well as Bangalore.

(c) The Hindustan Times

An Englishman has New Delhi on its feet...

When Gordon Matthew Sumner a.k.a Sting takes centerstage, there's very little that can go wrong.

Even though rain threatened to play spoilsport at this party, the much-awaited Delhi leg of Sting's 'Sacred Love' concert went off without a hitch. After the Shaggy no-show, if South Delhi had had reservations about the venue, Sunday night proved them absolutely wrong. No major traffic jams, no parking glitches, no lapse in security arrangement - Pitampura did itself proud as the new venue of international concerts in the Capital.

Colourful bandannas, teenagers in scruffy jeans and beads, the queue outside the Dilli Haat grounds was a veritable rockstar's paradise. With such a perfect setting, there was no way that Sting would let down his audience.

Starting with 'Message In A Bottle' to 'Englishman In New York', 'Shape Of My Heart', 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take' and more recent hits like the 'Desert Rose', the rockstar wooed his fans from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm.

''This one's for India, because it's about sex and religion,'' he declared before singing the title track from his new album 'Sacred Love'. Needless to say, the crowd went berserk.

''I bought his album this morning, so that I could sing along. He has not performed in Italy for quite some time now. The moment I heard he's performing in Delhi, I decided I would attend here,'' said Cecile, an Italian tourist, who came for the show with her Indian friends.

In fact, lots of foreigners had come to watch the star perform. Also among the audience was J. Claude Tribolet of the French Cultural Centre, Palash Sen of Euphoria and Subir Malik of the rock band Parikrama. ''It's the best concert I've been to after Roger Waters in Bangalore,'' said an overwhelmed Malik. A resident of Model Town, Malik was also quite pleased with the success of the new venue. ''People never take too kindly to a new concept. Pitampura didn't do too badly, did it?'' he remarked.

After his performance in Bangalore on February 4, Sting arrived in Delhi only late last night. The star, who declared in a recent interview that he likes ''Hinduism more than anything else at the moment'' had taken a detour to Varanasi, where he even took a dip in the Ganga.