Thursday, March 30, 2017

Staycationing in Stuttgart #2... Sting... live in concert!

At just past five o'clock, my sweet husband, Bill, came back to the hotel to pick me up for the concert.  He had decided ahead of time that we'd take a cab to the Porsche Arena.  He didn't want to have to worry about transportation.  There is an U Bahn stop near the venue, but apparently getting there from where we were staying would have been logistically challenging, especially later in the evening.  So the good folks at the hotel called us a cab and we got to the Porsche Arena at a little after 6:00.

I was shocked by the number of people who were standing outside the venue, many of whom appeared to be teenagers.  I had no idea that there was another show going on and most of the kids were headed to that one.

Bill and I decided to eat at the restaurant/bar at the Porsche Arena.  It was a place called Grandls, and it appeared to me that there are several locations in the area.  The restaurant was not very busy when we arrived, but business picked up quickly after we sat down.  Grandls seems to be more of a bar than a restaurant.  The menu is limited to just a few choices.  Bill and I both had hefeweizens and potato soup with wurst, bacon, and bread.  At six euros a bowl, it was cheap and filling.


Waiting for soup.


This was a nice dinner.

While we were eating, we ran into another American couple we know from the area.  The male half we know from beer tastings!  I always get a kick out of running into people.

I was a bit worried about how obnoxious the concert was going to be.  As I mentioned before, I am not a fan of big crowds and would probably sooner watch a DVD than sit in a concert hall.  However, I will go on record as saying that I was pleasantly surprised by the Porsche Arena.  It wasn't too big and people were basically well-behaved.  We had good seats, so it wasn't hard to see Sting, his son Joe, and The Last Bandoleros, a great band from San Antonio, Texas who are joining Sting on this tour.  Since our last American home was in San Antonio, it was especially great to be introduced to Sting's warm up act, who joined him throughout the entire concert, along with Sting's own band.


Maybe a half hour before the show started...


As you can see, it was eventually packed.

I noticed everybody and their brother was recording bits of the show.  I didn't do that myself because I'd rather actually watch the person I came to see than the screen on my phone.  I did see one security guy gently ask one guy to stop recording.  Other than that, they weren't very strict about taping at all. That may have something to do with the fact that Sting's son, Joe Sumner (who looks and sounds a lot like his dad), actually started a business after he noticed how many video clips of concerts were on YouTube.  He calls his business Vyclone; it's an app that allows fans to turn clips from concerts into collaborations with other fans.  The software takes clips from multiple users and assembles them into videos showing multiple angles.


I took one picture.

Joe Sumner sang a few of his original songs and I was astonished by how much he sounds like dear old dad, both in terms of his vocals and his guitar playing.  However, I wasn't as impressed with his songwriting as I am with Sting's.  In any case, it was interesting to see and hear him.  I take heart in knowing that he's only four years younger than I am.  He put on a good show.  I especially enjoyed his cover of David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes".

I really enjoyed The Last Bandoleros, which has a great roadhouse sound.  This band from San Antonio employs lush harmonies that reminded me a little bit of The Eagles.  However, I was particularly impressed by a couple of members of the band who really stood out.  Jerry Fuentes sang a mean lead vocal, was incredibly energetic and engaging, and played wicked guitar.  I was also impressed by Percy, whose last name I didn't catch.  He played "squeezebox" (accordion) like a master as he danced around the stage.  He reminded me of Verdine White of Earth, Wind, & Fire, the way he was working the crowd.  And I liked the way Sting used Percy's squeezebox on songs that originally used different instrumentation.  For instance, Percy played a lovely solo on "Fields of Gold" that gave the song a different feel.  I think The Last Bandoleros are going places.  I downloaded their EP and it will get some spins in my house.


Not from last night's show, but they did do this song last night.  Percy is in the video, but seems less animated in it.

I could tell the The Last Bandoleros is a band used to seeing concertgoers dancing.  Well, I'm here to tell you that the German crowd last night was fairly subdued.  They were enjoying the show for sure, but there wasn't much room for them to boogie down in the "stehplatz".  They were packed in like sardines!  Moreover, I have noticed at most of the concerts I've attended here that Germans tend to be well behaved and reserved at shows.  As a matter of fact, I kind of like that about them.  I still have vivid memories of the last James Taylor show I went to where Bill and I were forced to endure two drunk women who stood up the whole time.  They were swaying side to side as they sang loudly (and terribly) to James's songs.  I'm an even bigger James Taylor fan than I am a Sting fan, so that was extremely irritating!  Other than a few folks coming in after the lights were down and trying to find their seats, the folks at Sting's show were very considerate.

Sting was very generous in letting the other acts perform.  He also collaborated with them quite a bit and didn't skimp on playing himself.  I got the sense that Sting lives to perform.  It's probably a big rush for him to sing in front of a crowd (and as a singer myself, I can relate).  The show went on for a solid three hours with three encores.  They played a nice mix of classics by The Police, along with some of Sting's best loved solo hits and songs from his latest album, 57th & 9th.  I would like to add that 57th & 9th is probably my favorite album by Sting since 1999's Brand New Day.  But the beauty of Sting is that he and his music are always evolving and you never know what you're going to get.  I loved that Sting dedicated his new song, "One Fine Day", to Donald Trump.  It was very fitting.

After the show was over, Bill and I were heading out of the venue and I noticed a couple of Germans clapping.  Too late, I noticed that two of the guys from The Last Bandoleros were standing by the t-shirt counter, one of which was Percy.  I wish I'd stopped to say hi and thank them for a great show.  I want to give a shout out to Dominic and Rufus Miller, Sting's father and son guitar players...  They were superb!

Bill and I started walking in search of a cab.  We were among many Germans also searching for transportation or walking home and I felt totally safe, as I almost always do in Germany.  But I was starting to get annoyed with Bill, because we seemed to be walking in the wrong direction and making no progress in scoring a cab.  It was late and we were both tired.  So I finally stopped at a Shell station and asked Bill to use his phone to call a taxi.  Bill was stubborn at first, but I reminded him that it's easier for a cab to pull into the Shell station than off on the side of the busy road.

He finally went into the station and one of the guys working there very kindly helped us out by calling a cab.  While we were waiting, we saw a couple of people eyeing the booze for sale in the convenience store.  The cashier helpfully told them that no alcohol could be sold after 10:00pm.  That was a surprise to me, especially since we saw a couple of people with a big grocery cart full of booze waiting to catch people leaving the venue.  I think they were selling it.

We got back to the hotel shortly before midnight and soon crashed into slumber.  I was really glad we decided to stay in Stuttgart rather than trying to drive home.  We would have gotten in very late.  I think, from now on, when we go to concerts downtown, we'll just stay there... as long as Max can take the dogs.

This morning, we got up early, had breakfast, checked out, and now I'm at home waiting for Bill to get home with the dogs.  I think if we go to another show at the Porsche Arena, we may stay in a hotel closer to the venue.  But, all in all, we enjoyed our second staycation at the Wald Hotel.  I can see why people like it so much that it's a top performer on Trip Advisor.  I would definitely recommend it, especially to people who like comfortable hotels and don't mind paying a bit more.  And I am glad I finally got to see Sting play live.  He's still looking and sounding great and the show was well worth the extra euros we paid for it.  I hope to see him again sometime.  And I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for The Last Bandoleros, too.

2 comments:

  1. Great review! Not surprised at the quality of the show you enjoyed; Sting has always focused on recruiting highly talented musicians who have a certain chemistry on stage with him. At every show of his I've attended, the band plays with energy, precision, and flair.

    Thanks for writing this up! Enjoyable description of a fun night!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Andrew! We really had a great time. The fact that good concerts are plentiful in Stuttgart is another reason why we love living here.

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