Combined concerts always confuse me, especially when the two leads expose each other’s limitations rather than add to their strengths. Though Sting and Paul Simon are formidable titans in their own right, their attempt to align had some small issues. Simon’s sweet tone gets swallowed by Sting’s powerhouse voice, and Sting’s inability to achieve Simon’s vulnerable, quiet conviction leaves him exposed.
The duo began the show with a brief introduction into their attempt, with Simon telling the audience that by the end of the tour, he hoped to “have the body of an Adonis,” and to have sex for “hours on end.” Sting’s audience interaction was less jovial, with the mysterious music man confessing his humble respect for Simon shortly after Simon exited the stage, along with his rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America.’ Unfortunately, that was extent of their audience engagement.
While I might have picked someone like James Taylor to be Simon’s touring partner, there’s a few easy fixes that might make this a more cohesive collaboration, rather than what felt like a competitive showdown of living legends. First, because Paul Simon and Sting are simply unable to effectively harmonize together, they should exchange verses in each other’s songs and severely limit the harmonies. This tactic was more widely used in the second half of the show, which made it exponentially better than the first. Second, if each artist is going to sing each other’s song, then the arrangement should be changed to accommodate their individual vocal style. Sure the audience expects the original, but there’s plenty of picks in their solo set to fulfill that expectation. It was; however, extremely interesting to see Sting sing, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ given its intense vulnerability and the simple fact that it’s an Art Garfunkel vocal staple. I desperately want to ask Sting if he felt tremendously challenged by the idea of taking a different approach to his larger-than-life style. It was certainly an exercise in restraint. Lastly, the live mix had problems. While Sting’s voice can be easily heard among his band, Simon’s cannot. This can be easily rectified, but it’s something that should be taken into consideration with two vastly different voices.
Despite these aforementioned issues, this show is certainly worth seeing. Absent some collaborative conundrums, the thirty plus song set gives you two for the price of one, with Simon singing his legendary staples, including, ‘Graceland,’ ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,’ ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,’ and many more. As for Sting, he tore the house down with ‘Message in a Bottle,’ ‘Roxanne,’ and ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.’ It’s not often that two of the world’s most iconic artists share a stage, so take advantage of the momentous milestone in history and purchase your ticket. For more information visit, Sting’s website, Paul Simon’s website, or their tour website.
North American Tour Itinerary 2014
Feb. 16 Anaheim, CA Honda Center
Feb. 17 San Jose, CA SAP Center at San Jose
Feb. 19 Seattle, WA KeyArena
Feb. 20 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
Feb. 23 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center
Feb. 25 Chicago, IL United Center
Feb. 26 Detroit, MI The Palace of Auburn Hills
Feb. 28 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
Mar. 01 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
Mar. 03 Boston, MA TD Garden
Mar. 04 New York City, NY Madison Square Garden
Mar. 06 New York, City, NY Madison Square Garden
Mar. 07 Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Center
Mar. 09 Hershey, PA Giant Center
Mar. 13 Washington, DC Verizon Center
Mar. 15 Ft. Lauderdale, FL BB&T Center
Mar. 16 Orlando, FL Amway Center