One Night Live Concert: Sting & Sheryl Crowe

Did the big One Night Live fundraising concert at the Air Canada Centre last night featuring Sting, Sheryl Crowe, The Canadian Tenors and hosted by Chris Noth of Sex And The City fame.

The publicist warned us beforehand that we would be on a riser behind the sound board, even measured the precise distance (150 feet) to the stage for us. This was good info to know in advance, and consequently I left the 35-100mm f2 at home favouring the 50-200mm w/ 1.4 teleconverter instead.

The guy beside me, shooting for the Toronto Sun, had to lug two 1DMK3 bodies, a 5dMK2 w/battery grip, 400mm 2.8 lens, laptop, and video camera to the gig. He had so much stuff hanging off him that he cracked the rear LCD screen on one of the 1DMK3's in the elevator.

That 400mm 2.8 should be sold with it's own jeep to mount it on, and with a 1.4 teleconveter added on the 5DMK2 it didn't have any more reach than my E30 w/ 50-200mm and 1.4, but obviously it was significantly brighter.

From the distance we were shooting it was pretty difficult to see a photographic 'moment', so I just fired away every time they stepped out from behind the microphone.

We got to shoot the first two songs for Sheryl Crowe, the first three for Sting, and nobody cared how many photos we took of Chris Noth :)

The nice thing was, since the riser and people on it blocked the audience view behind, they sectioned off the first seven rows od seats behind us. After our songs were up we were allowed to sit in this section and watch the performance.
Amazing. Finally a promoter who shows some apreciation for the free publicity they are getting. Usually we get escorted right out of the building as soon as our time is up.

Sheryl Crowe seems a bit stiff live. I got the imnpression that she really doesn't enjoy the whole live performance thing. Seems to have a touch of stage fright which is odd considering how much experience she must have over the years.

Sting on the other hand seems totally comfortable and completely at home on stage - like he was born with a bass guitar in hand howling Roxanne in the delivery room. He had a first rate band with him and was more adventurous in deviating from the recorded version of his songs than Sheryl Crowe, who pretty much did a note perfect greatest hits package. Not that it was bad. She had the whole audience on their feet by the end and got very warm and sustained applause for her set.

Some of Sting's variations were more successful than others. He slowed Message In A Bottle down to a near ballad pacing, blending audience participation with fragments of other songs from the same LP, creating a hypnotic reverie that really highlighted the song structure of each melody. Energy-wise it was a low point for an audience that seemed impatient to party to the music at points, but I found it one of the highlights of what I saw of his set (had to leave mid-way)

The guy has sold 100 million albums yet plays one of the most beat to cr@p bass guitars I've ever seen (close up on the monitor I wouldn't be surprised if parts are held together with gaffer tape)

And speaking of guitars, isn't it about time Fender made female friendly versions of strats and telecasters. The regular sized ones look a little large and bulky on Sheryl's frame. Women have come a long way in rock from being just the back up singers.

Nowadays they're the stars often as not. You'd think guitar manufacturers would have taken note. I'm not talking about messing with the shape of the Strat or Telecaster - that would be heresy! - just shrinking the proportions a bit. It's not so noticeable on this one, but with some of the shots the size of the guitar makes her look child-like. Not a good thing for an adult artist.

All in all, an enjoyable evening. The unexpected bonus of being able to watch the show was a really nice surprise.

All photos taken with the Olympus E30 camera and Digital Zuiko 50 - 200mm 2.8 lens with 1.4 Olympus teleconverter added.

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