Sting’s Birthday Party (Mainstream MSBR-073)
San Andres, Barcelona, Spain – October 1st, 1983
Voices Inside My Head, Synchronicity, Synchronicity II, Walking In Your Footsteps, Message In A Bottle, Walking On The Moon, O My God, Dedododo Dedadada, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Tea In The Sahara, Invisible Sun, One World (Not Three), King Of Pain, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Every Breath You Take, Murder By Numbers, Roxanne, Happy Birthday Sting, Can’t Stand Losing You
There is an audience and soundboard source for this show. The very good stereo audience source surfaced on the Live In Barcelona (All Days Music Records BAR 21184) in the eighties and contains “Synchronicity I”, “Synchronicity II”, “Walking In Your Footsteps”, “Oh My God”, “Dedododo Dedadada”, “Wrapped Around Your Finger”, and “Tea In The Sahara”.
This soundboard recording surfaced first as Sting’s Birthday on Fallout Records and contains the exact same track listing as Sting’s Birthday Party. The Fallout version clocks in at 78:04 while the Mainstream is 77:47, fifteen seconds shorter.
The tape used is an excellent and clear soundboard recording that is well balanced for the most part. At times Andy Summer’s (sometimes off) backing vocals are as loud as Sting’s and the audience are very distant. It is also still not the complete show.
“Spirits In The Material World”, “Hole In My Life/ Hit The Road Jack” are cut from the tape (they should be between “Tea In The Sahara” and “Invisible Sun”), and the final encore is also missing (“So Lonely” was the most often played). Generally speaking though the tape is very powerful and enjoyable with a lot of depth and life to it. It sounds really good played loud through the speakers which is how is should be.
The state of the tape is good news since this is an amazing performance. A Flock Of Seagulls opened for them at this show, and it’s amazing to think they play this well with such negative tension in the band. Perhaps all bands should hate each other?
It sounds like every song is played at double time. After the opening tape “Voices In My Head”, “Synchronicity I” and “Synchronicity II” get the evening off on a high note and it isn’t until “Message In A Bottle” one can catch their breath. “Oh My God” segues into “Dedododo Dedadada”.
Before “Every Step” Summers says, “Fucking brilliant!” “It’s my birthday, not yours, Andy!” Sting replies. “Murder By Numbers” is introduced as a “song about the cynical manipulation of large groups of people”. The audience sing “happy birthday” together for Sting before the encores. It’s a shame the tape is still incomplete as this is an essential show and worth having. But this is probably as definitive as we’ll get so Sting’s Birthday Party is definitely recommended.
This is a great CD with very clear sound. There are moments when the clarity really shines through, such as during Sting’s bass-jam in “One World (Not Three)”, and Andy’s gorgeous guitar sound at the start of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”.
Andy’s deadpan announcement of Sting’s birthday to the audience is hilarious.
My only criticism of this disc is that there is a hint of a shadow on Sting’s voice, possibly a microscopic delay, which sometimes makes him sound like a robot or a “dalek”. This is probably something to do with the original source cassette recording. Perhaps I’m being uber-obssessive.