Concert review: Sting and Peter Gabriel deliver big time in Chicago
Summer concert season is in full swing these days, and few tours have attracted as much as attention as Sting and Peter Gabriel. Our longtime Chicago correspondent/Peter Gabriel expert Mark "Bassnote" Kenneally caught Saturday’s show at the United Center. Here’s his review:
Sting and Peter Gabriel brought their "Rock Paper Scissors Tour" to Chicago's United Center Saturday, June 9, and it turned out to be one of the most musically satisfying concerts I had seen years. Both men are in their mid-60s, but you couldn't tell that from the way they were running and jumping all over the stage. They seemed to feed on each others energy, and the audience ate it up.
Before you think this was a typical double bill of “I’ll do a set, then you do a set, and then we'll do some duets,” no, no, no! Far from it. With the exception of a handful of songs, both men shared the stage the entire night taking turns doing their songs, or doing each others songs, or collaborating on songs.
Together they brought with them two bands totaling 14 musicians, and there was a combination of both bands performing many of the songs throughout the night. As Gabriel put it, they had a good natured battle of the bands.
The best part was that everyone on the stage looked like they were having the time of their lives; no trace of ego could be seen during the night. Sting and Gabriel were the best example of this. It was easy to tell from their banter and playful joking that they enjoyed each others company. When not singing lead, they would each sing background for the other. They also provided musical support for each other on several songs; Gabriel on keyboards for Sting, and Sting on bass for Gabriel.
What about the music? Well, lots of the hits got played: "Solsbury Hill,” "Roxanne,” "In Your Eyes,” "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” There were also some really great musical surprises: "Invisible Sun,” Sting singing lead on "Shock The Monkey,” a gorgeous duet of "Fragile" that was dedicated to all the recent shooting victims around the country, and Sting introducing "Message In a Bottle" with a verse from the Genesis classic "Dancing With a Moonlit Knight.”
Gabriel played a brand new song called "Love Can Heal" that was written for slain politician Jo Cox, who was a friend of his. He also did a bluesy cover of Sting's "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.” Sting's scorching version of "Roxanne" morphed into a jazzy mid-section that became Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" before transitioning back into "Roxanne.” A highlight for me was seeing Sting rock the bass on Gabriel's "Big Time" with Gabriel's bass player Tony Levin looking on in approval.
The entire group of musicians took their bows after a fantastic rendition of "In Your Eyes,” where Sting and background singer Jenny Abrahamsson improved on the famous Youssou N'dour vocal part. After a very short time everyone came back out for encores of "Every Breath You Take" and "Sledgehammer,” with Sting and Gabriel trading vocals on both songs. The whole show clocked in at around three hours, and the audience wanted more. It was a brilliant collaboration of two artists who still enjoy playing live and definitely enjoyed being on stage together. I hope the way they put their show together will become the standard for co-headlining acts in the future.
- Mark "Bassnote" Kenneally