Here's my gi-hugic post from tpt regarding Auckland. Sorry for the delay in posting here. Meg and I were out on Waitakare getting sauced all day. The show was great. Stewart was in great form, as always. Here's the breakdown:
Not sure what the attendance was last night, but the place was full. And the crowd was in fine voice.
You could tell the gig was going to smoke right from Message. Sting had a lot more energy, and Stewart was bangin'.
Synch 2 was very good, but WOTM was really great, an exceptional version. The crowd sang fairly well, and the jam was great. A lot of nice dynamics through the jam and into the "Keep it up" crescendo bit they've been doing toward the end. They raged into the last chorus section, and then brought it down nicely. Meg looked at me and we both said simultaneously: "This is going to be a really great gig." Something was different tonight. The flaccid laissez faire from Welly had given way to something far more passionate.
They launched into Voices, and the crowd put their hands up, so Meg, one of our neighbors and I did our duty to fill their hands with our balls. We sent up three or four of them and the Kiwis did a nice job of keeping all of our balls in the air. (Although in Welly, the balls stayed up pretty much all night. Auckland folks are bit more ball hoggish, it seems. PLEASE PEOPLE: the balls are for the air, not for you.) There were some nice jumbotron shots of my balls. Made them look absolutely HUGE! Niiiiiice.
The Voices/ WWIRD medley sounded re-invigorated tonight. They were playing with a fever. So much so that Sting rushed considerably on the bass line and lost the groove a bit. Andy's solo was good, but not the best I've seen. He still seemed a wee bit stiff and not 100%. More on that in a bit.
After that song, Sting did his bit about being a schoolteacher, and Meg and I looked at each other, relieved that "Don't Stand" would be back tonight. This song has been steadily improving the whole tour, so I was happy to hear it. It wasn't, perhaps, as good as the last few times I saw it in the fall, but it was nice to hear. And Auckland loved it, singing along in full voice.
Driven to Tears continues to be a highlight in the set. Andy continues to shine on this one, and Stewart practically bursts into flames. Sting's vocal performance was good, but lacked the vitriol that I really want to hear on this song. It was at this point that I looked up to see him on the video screens and noticed that the corners of his mouth looked a little spittled. Think gateshead concert video. Not good.
I have to say, though, Sting played great tonight, aside from rushing mentioned earlier. He continues to be inventive and playful on bass. And tonight was a reminder of what a killer singer he is. He still has quite a bit of his range from his youth, and the quality (timbre) of his voice is so much richer. He really let fly a lot tonight vocally, and sounded great!
Like I said, Stewart was en fuego tonight, and he did some really nice double kick stuff coming out of Andy's second solo on Driven. He was killing it. He made absolutely zero gaffs tonight, so far as I could tell. (With the exception of not name checking Meg. Cheeky ba$tard!)
Hole in My Life was good, the crowd getting into the yeahs. It was a better than decent version, but Andy wasn't really grooving on this song, which I have to say really irritates me. His part on this song is deceptively difficult. It's just "simple" chunk, chunk, chunk. However, it's really hard to get the timing just perfect. Groove is a factor of very very small variances in timing, and the timing was just off. It's funny, but this could actually be because he is standing too far from Stewart at this point in the show. He needs to be close enough to feel him YMMV.
Something else funny about Hole? Sting went into the wrong key on the first trip into the "There's Something Missing in My Life" bit. He chuckled off his mistake after clearly being a little peeved with himself.
MAGIC was great tonight, nearly as good a version as I've seen. I'm still not crazy about Andy's part on the choruses though. He plays up an octave, and things are a little thin in the middle. A good, solid singalong.
Speaking of singalongs, the Auckland crowd fully grabbed the "Things they would not teach me up in college line" and Sting showed his appreciation with an "Ok, ok..." and continuing to give it his all. Andy's got his harmonized guitar line down on this one, nice to hear after the gaffs when he was first trying it out. A note for Stewart on this one: your melodic percussion rack is a little out of tune. It's sharp, which is exactly where you don't want to be, tuning wise. It's been bugging me the whole tour. It really depends on the blend you get with Andy's guitar. If Andy is louder, things sound OK. However, if the chimes are as loud or louder, it sounds a little wonky, which definitely detracts from the emotional impact of the tune. Sorry maestro, you know I *ove* you. The other solution is to have the techs tune the guitars a little sharp for this one, so they are in tune with your rack. But the blending trick should work.
De Doo Doo Doo sounded good. A great singalong from the crowd, and a goofy ending where the "uncertainty principle" was definitely at work.
I've been hot and cold on Invisible Sun all this year. But tonight it had the dynamics reminiscent of its best versions this year.
At this point, I was just getting more balls out to blow up, thinking I had all of footsteps to blow them up. Alas, Footsteps was still gone, so it was time to get into some intense huffing and puffing while the band played the first verses....
Ack, I can't get pix up on the tpt site right now. I'll be back to add the funny ones of our neighbors stroking out while blowing my balls.
CSLY was great, as usual. Crowd got into it, and it was a nice raging version courtesy of our man behind the kit. Thank you, Stew.
Roxanne was in top form tonight, too. Andy played some cool harmonics right at the break into the jam, and Stewart really shined here. He grabbed Sting's hemiola on the "I-won't-share-I-won't-share-I-won't-share-I-won't-share" bit and slammed it in unison.
Yes Sting, you will share. You will share with Stewart. And it will be good.
They were really on a roll tonight, so it was only a bit of a minor distraction that the squeaky sound of Sting's fingers sliding up and down the strings between the "doom-dooooommmm" phrases on the beginning of K-O-Pain were REALLY LOUD. Meg said to me: "What's that sound?" So it wasn't just me. The overall sound was really sparkling tonight, as our friend Officer Dibble noted. It was exceptionally clear. Perhaps this was the reason. Or perhaps Sting had his tone set up on the bass differently than usual? Don't know. However, the tune as a whole did not disappoint. Andy got some nice artificial harmonics on his solo that caused him to get some really surprising harmonies there. Cool! And Sting was obviously enjoying himself, 'cause he improvised!!!! He made his monkey-man noise just before the last verse. Perhaps he regretted excising "Footsteps".
So Lonely was good, but here is where I'm going to dig into Andy a little bit. Back in the fall, I kvetched at him for not playing more lyrically. Everything he was playing was discordant and angular, and it was all sounding a bit same-same. Either causation or correlation, Andy came back with some killer lyrical solos at Wembley and elsewhere.
My gripe with Andy right now is that he's not being Andy. He's trying to force the histrionics a bit, and it ends up sounding forced. He's just trying too damned hard. So his solos have moments, but they aren't fulfilling their function of pushing the song forward as they should. Particularly in tunes like So Lonely and Hole. Lay back just a bit and you've totally got it, sir! Tell that tall dude barking in your ear to back the funk off and, in the immortal words of Lindsay Buckingham, go your own way. You're THE MAN. I want to see that again in Hawaii!
Sting really shined tonight, though. Like I said earlier, his voice was as strong tonight as I have heard it. It was a wicked reminder of what a phenomenally great singer he is. He improvised more on So Lonely than I've heard before. Phenomenal.
EBYT was solid, but not the best version I've heard. Something was up with Stewart's snare. It had lost it's snap, as if the bottom head had broken or something. Meg didn't like it. But I thought the ragged woof was kinda appropriate for this song.
Andy did his "c'mon guys" bit before the last song, and Auckland ate it up.
They then proceeded to tear through Next To You. I have to say, this is one of my favorite versions of this song that I've heard. And it was not just that it's poignant for Meg and I, living thousands of miles away from each other as we do. The band was clearly pleased with the night's work, and capped it with an absolutely explosive version of this song. I'm praying for a bootleg.
Thanks boys for an excellent night.
See you in CHA-waii!!!!
"Unpaid Bills... Afghanistan Hills!"