I’ve seen the guy three times: Police, on one of their last tours, in Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria, Sting, Amnesty International open air concert, Budapest, Hungary and now, Sting and Karamazov, Lisinski concert hall, Zagreb, Croatia. Boring…, boring…, great! How did this Austro-Hungarian empire triptych experience turn so surprisingly well? Well… big part of it was growing old, we all did, but Sting did it especially well. After Police, just like Paul Weller, Sting was kind of looking for sophistication, jazz and all. I did too, but he seemed to be searching but not finding. Awkwardly, he turned to the old stuff and suddenly he is soo young again. His playing, his phrasing, his lungs all were impressive and as he went from John Dowling’s material to other English classical composers, towards his own, only to end up in a blues he was telling us a rather important thing. Passing of the time seems to have given him more courage and more clarity to interpret his own songs, to make his message clearer, and it seems to have honed his performing skills to the level only those who survive youth sane can achieve.
And just as in the case with Obama and his mediation instincts I was struck by the zeitgeist we all share so easily now, and we share it so seamlessly jointly almost as it is ‘68 all over again. But was was it exactly that we shared this week in Lisinski with Sting? Simply, it was calmness, it was being able to give space to our heartbeats, it was giving space by remorselessly taking down so many of the things we’ve erected ourselves. His playing was ever more measured in his restraint to make ever more space for his voice towards the end of the concert. His voice was chiseled our of the acoustic space so that we could feel that space and fill it with our listening and our emotions. We could actually feel each other, all of us, together with the artist, sharing that calm space he delivered to us. And what a feat it was, he struck down the shopping malls on this way to our heart, he struck down the noisy factories, he shuttered the noisy cafes, the noisy clubs, sensless agitation of TV, narrative aggression of moving pictures. What remained in the air were sounds of our bodies breathing, of the grass growing, the wind combing the winter trees, the food steaming at the table. For an hour and a half we could be with ourselves. And if it took some 16th century tunes to bring Sting there, so be it, we all enjoyed it because he did. And as Carlin Petrini of Slow Food said less then a week earlier on Che tempo che fa? we consume too much, we spend too much, we speed too much, it is all unnecessary. Real stuff remains hidden bellow the poisoned surface.
Here was a musician who understood that. His gesture was a bit theatrical, his interest a bit to egotistical, but his message was of such relevance that this bunch of aging rockers who filled the hall to the last seat really did understand that: only a true artist could produce such an effect. Hats down to Sting. But, it is not about him, it about us. Let’s talk more to each other then look at the screens, let’s breath rather then smoke, but when we do finally talk — let’s not talk too much, let’s listen to each other!