Sting - vocals, bass; David Sancious - keyboards; Dominic Miller - guitar; Vinnie Colaiuta - drums
Opening a show with an acoustic guitar song--Paul McCartney's signature song no less-- may seem like a strange way to begin a show if you're not the former Beatle himself, but that's exactly how former Police-man Sting did it on this rare night in 1993, opening a series of shows for the Grateful Dead. Yep, that "Blackbird," that Grateful Dead, and that Sting, who in the midst of his own tour in support of the album Ten Summoner's Tales stepped out for a few choice stadium dates with Jerry, Bob, and friends.
"We're gonna play some things you know and we don't," quipped Sting at the top of the set then did some serious tweaking to the Bill Withers tune, "Ain't No Sunshine," delivering it in a freshly skewed arrangement. He does McCartney (and Lennon) again by pulling "Penny Lane" out his hat. And we can't think of a thing to say that will prepare you for Sting doing Jimi so let's just say, 'scuse him while he kissed the sky.
Interestingly, Sting reprises very few Police tunes save for a hyped-up "Message in a Bottle," and a by-the-book "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic." And he gives a turn to his own '80s solo hit, "Fortress Around Your Heart," from the Dream of the Blue Turtles album, as well as a little number he wrote for the film Lethal Weapon 3. "We want you to write a song that conceivably Mel Gibson could sing to Danny Glover," he said, of the assignment he received to write the buddy song "It's Probably Me."
Someone must have told Sting that the Grateful Dead audience enjoys a good cover or two, though whether he was the best choice to entertain Deadheads is for you to debate. Yet Sting and his band certainly seemed like they had a helluva time and were game enough to try it again on a few other dates during the fine summer of 1993, when Jerry Garcia was still alive and yoga-master Sting left the stage with the ultimate namaste: "You're one of the best audiences I've ever played before," he said. Shush! Better not let those millions of Police fans hear that…