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STING: BRING ON THE NIGHT

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Sting, Omar Hakim, Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, Darryl Jones, Miles Copeland
Director: Michael Apted
Audio:  Dolby 5.1 and 2.0, DTS 5.1
Video:  Color, full screen
Studio: Universal Music & VI
Features: See Review
Length: 2 hours
Release date: March 29, 2005

"There is no monopoly of common sense

On either side of the political fence

We share the same biology regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you

I hope the Russians love their children too."

Film ****

It is hard to believe that not so long ago, Americans, Europeans, and presumably Russians and probably the rest of the world were so convinced that a nuclear holocaust was just a button-push away.  It seemed that machines were taking over the world, and it was only a matter of time before computers actually made decisions.  President Reagan was depicted in the media as a warmonger, but history would prove that military strength prevented a war instead of bringing it on.  Rock music was tense, urgent, paranoid, and technology driven.  Let's get past the bad hairstyles and questionable fashion sense, OK?  The 80's rocked!

No band was bigger in the early 1980's than the Police, and Gordon Matthew Sumner, AKA Sting, led the way with his screechy vocals, intelligent songwriting, and irresistible melodies.  With Andy Summers on guitar and Stewart Copeland on drums, they accomplished one of the hardest things to do in rock: create a seminal style which is commercially successful.  They did so, and at the height of their success, when Synchronicity was number one for months, they stopped.  Sting forged a new band, which many hoped would be just as cool as the Police but even more innovative, with some of the most talented jazz musicians in America backing him up.

I remember how shocked I was when in 1983 Sting said his favorite band was not the Beatles or another rock band, but the fusion ensemble Weather Report, with the immortal Jaco Pastorius on bass.  He said this right when he decided to go solo, and his jazz bandmates did wonderful things with his Police-era compositions, letting them swing and breathe.  Sting himself played guitar for a while, letting Miles Davis alumnus Darryl Jones funk his way in and out of great Police tunes in a way Sting himself could not do.  Although he does not ask them to play jazz, their chops are so superior to most rock musician that they burn even hotter than most rock bands.

Did he succeed?  At first at least, yes.  While many listeners such as myself miss the tension of the reggae- infused pop with a punk beat of the Police, it is tough to dismiss the charismatic Englishman's first several solo albums.  Bring On The Night is about half rehearsal footage at a French chateau (we even see tourists coming through) and half performance, with interviews popping up here and there.  We meet Miles Copeland, brother of Stewart and equally extroverted and opinionated as he managed Sting on his own.  The flow is very brisk and the energy never lets up as we see opening night on his Dream of the Blue Turtles tour.  We even get to see Jake Sumner being born, which is probably the reason for the PG-13 rating.  Oh, how European!  Sting's more current albums and concerts are frankly very dull and too new age in style for my taste. 

Video ***

The occasional artifact shows up but rarely, and the colors and vibrant and full.  Better than expected for an older video shoot.  Dark scenes and stage light changes do not reveal the splotchiness often seen even in modern footage.  An excellent restoration, which is needed but often not done for most 1980's productions.

Audio ****

Let DTS live!  The sound is great, especially in a recording from the early 1980's.  The balance is excellent and the rear speakers used mainly for percussion and audience sounds, which allow the brighter tones to show out front. 

Features ***

Music videos for If You Love Someone Set Them Free, Russians,  Bring on the Night, Trailer for this concert itself, a photo album, and a personal playlist which is interesting because it lets you play the tracks you choose in the order you set up. 

Summary :

One of the best modern rock documentaries is finally out on DVD, and in fact is cheaper in this format than on CD.  Well worth the wait to see one of rock's modern legends in his prime.