Paul Simon & Sting. A harmony lesson.

One is tall, lean, and looks like a bit like a body builder. The other is  small, ruffled, and looks like your old favorite uncle. One is bald, the other is gray. They look like a  comedy team with large bands in the background. For all their physical differences, they sing in harmony, and that’s all that matters when Sting and Paul Simon took the stage on a bitterly cold  Tuesday evening in Chicago.

Weekday evening concerts are difficult — everyone comes from work, tired, pre-occupied and the usual concert buzz just isn’t there. Getting to the United Center on Chicago’s West side can be an adventure…even more so when the temperature is near zero. Long line to get in slowed by bag check and security made for half empty seats at the start of the show. The lights went down, the singers walk out.

I had no idea how this show would start, and they came right out singing together. A duet of Brand New Day followed by Boy in the Bubble then Fields of Gold. They sound good and it’s a nice start. I’m intrigued and happy to follow this journey for the next two hours or so. The crowd filled in nicely, and I can see through the spotlights it’s almost a full house.

Sting separates himself and sings the first solo set. I’ve seen Sting a couple of times – he always seems a war with himself. Is he the fast tempo, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic Police frontman or the quiet older Englishman in New York? He plays both parts well, you just never know which Sting will take the stage. And Tuesday, he did both songs with equal energy.  His first set finishes with more Police songs – enough for me to think he misses his old mates – nah, doesn’t even mention them.

Simon came out for another duet, Mother and Child Reunion. Which again, sounded very good, before he launched his own set, starting with – 50 Ways to Leave  your Lover – a Simon legacy song that reminds me how much I hated radio over-play in 5th grade. I did appreciate the live fluid snare drum in the background. He brought the audience up with Graceland and down with Still  Crazy After All These Years.

Sting came back out for another duet, Fragile. The harmony together really worked, good, so good that Simon says at the end “I love that song, I love it so much I wish I wrote it.” Sting tells Simon he’s his “mentor” and is honored to play with him. It’s a natural moment. He then starts his next solo set by covering a Simon favorite – an acoustic version of America. The audience loved it.

It was a typical baby boomer audience, lots of sitting, no standing and audience participation had to be coaxed from the stage. Before the encore, two women in the row in front of me left early. However they came back with wild stories about a “girl on girl” fight in the hallway. I really, really couldn’t picture any females from either fan base getting into a fight –  what would the grandkids say?

The musical volley lasted all night, leading up to the encore – Bridge Over Troubled Water. Sting steps in and nails it. Now, I know why they toured together. You could almost hear them in their NY apartments saying “lets try this… yeah that sounds good, we should tour live sometime.”

Paul Simon and Sting set list Tuesday, February 25, Chicago United Center

Simon and Sting together:
1 Brand New Day
2 Boy in the Bubble
3 Fields of Gold

Sting solo:
4 Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
5 Englishman in New York
6 I Hung My Head
7 Driven To Tears
8 Walking on the Moon

Simon and Sting together:
9 Mother and Child Reunion

Simon Solo:
10 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
11 Dazzling Blue
12 Graceland
13 Still Crazy After All These Years
14 Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

Simon and Sting together:
15 Fragile

Sting Solo:
16 America (Acoustic version of Paul Simon cover)
17 Message in a Bottle
18 The Hounds of Winter
19 They Dance Alone
20 Roxanne
21 Desert Rose

Simon and Sting together:
22 The Boxer

Simon Solo:
23 That Was Your Mother
24 Hearts and Bones/Mystery Train (Junior Parker cover)/Wheels (Chet Atkins cover)
25 The Obvious Child
26 Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
27 You Can Call Me Al

Encore – Simon and Sting together:
28 Bridge Over Troubled Water
29 Every Breath You Take
30 Late in the Evening


One Response to Paul Simon & Sting. A harmony lesson.

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