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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 21 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 08
Paul Simon and Sting create magic together
Arts & Entertainment
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Paul Simon and Sting create magic together

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

PAUL SIMON & STING
KEY ARENA
February 19


Individually, Paul Simon and Sting are expert musicians. They each have massive catalogs of solo and collaborative work. They each own multiple Grammy Awards, platinum records and top accolades from their respective countries -' Simon is a Kennedy Center Honoree, while Sting has been designated the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). They've each stayed true to their rock and folk roots, but have dabbled in pop, zydeco, Latin and world music, among others. And, each has earned legendary status on their own merit.

Together, they proved to be an unbeatable pair at Key Arena. Playing to a packed house on Wednesday night, each artist performed mini sets of signature material and then dueted on several numbers. Overall, fans got 2 hours and 30 minutes of classic tunes with no breaks and minimal interaction between songs.

The show began with both men walking on stage quietly and getting right to business with a folksy version of 'Brand New Day,' followed by a nice run-through of 'The Boy in the Bubble' and a sweet acoustic rendition of 'Fields of Gold.' There were joint sessions during the night, but there were also portions of the concert when Simon and Sting had the stage all to themselves.

Sting spoiled us with a wonderful set that included 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,' 'Englishman in New York,' 'Driven to Tears,' with an added violin solo, and 'Walking on the Moon' that definitely had a splash of reggae.

'I gotta say,' said Sting with a grin. 'I've never been a fan of American football, but . . . that was great.' The crowd roared with pride.

They combined forces for an enthusiastic delivery of 'Mother and Child Reunion,' and then Simon nabbed the spotlight with solo performances of '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,' with a jazzy-funky twist , 'Graceland,' 'Dazzling Blue' and a splendid take on 'Still Crazy After All These Years.'

I lost count of how many instruments were used by a large band that stretched from one side of the stage to the other, from chimes to washboards, trumpets to recorders, saxophones to a variety of guitars. There were no stage props or background graphics; we simply got two musicians in prime form entertaining us for over two hours.

After a fun duet of 'Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard,' we got Sting all to ourselves again, looking ever so gorgeous in fitted jeans, tight long-sleeve shirt, dark-colored sports coat and his head shaved with just a dusting of hair. 'Message in a Bottle' was marvelous, though 'They Dance Alone' was probably the weak point of his set. We all rocked out to 'Roxanne,' as the stage lighting turned to blood red, while 'Desert Rose' showcased Sting's impressive vocals -' the man still has some amazing pipes!

'The Boxer' featured both artists taking turns at singing the verses, and Simon followed with a dazzling solo session that included spirited renditions of 'The Obvious Child,' 'Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes' and 'You Can Call Me Al.' The short, gray-haired veteran flapped his arms and made hand gestures while he sang, and he encouraged everyone to clap along. He certainly seemed more upbeat and less serious than when he performed a few years ago at WaMu Theater.

A three-number encore kicked off with 'Every Breath You Take,' prompting many couples to cuddle or hold hands, followed by a brass section-infused 'Late in the Evening' as the entire arena was on its feet dancing. Sting's powerful vocals again stood out on 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' as the crowd joined in the chorus. The finale was a stripped-down cover of The Everly Brothers' 'When Will I Be Loved,' as both musicians strummed acoustic guitars.

There appeared to be much respect between Paul Simon and Sting, a friendship that gave way to an ultimate collaboration, a full tour that afforded fans of both men to see them in action together. Musically, they complimented one another well, and they spoke highly of the other -' neither had an ego and neither over shadowed the other. Even more astounding is how pure they remain as artists; you still get a real organic sound from each of them.

Although I'd love to experience them individually in the near future (I've seen Simon and Sting once on their own), I wouldn't miss a second opportunity to witness them together again.

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Paul Simon and Sting create magic together
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