In a life filled with Pow! moments, last Monday was one of the most memorable of all. Get this:
I got to sing onstage with The Police.
That's no typo. Let's see if I can make this long story short...
It all started six weeks ago when Stephen Bronfman asked my biz partner Garner Bornstein and I to co-chair a fundraising event for one of his pet causes, the David Suzuki Foundation, an important environmental organization (and one you should check out right here, by the way).
The event would be limited to 100 people, who would not only see The Police show from choice seats and enjoy a high-end cocktail party at the legendary Queue de Cheval steakhouse, but be invited to sit in on the band's soundcheck at the Bell Centre the day of the show.
Tickets sold in a flash; I mean, seeing one of the world's most legendary bands privately, in an intimate setting is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Well, people had no idea how once-in-a-lifetime it would be.
At about 4:30, the guests (which had now swelled to about 125) seated inside the empty arena, watched as drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers took to the stage. Sting followed a few seconds after, and while holding his bass, was curiously dressed in a coat and long scarf wrapped--not around his finer--but a few times around his neck.
"I have a bit of a cold," he said softly, "and to avoid putting any undo strain on my voice, I'm wondering if there are any volunteers down there who wouldn't mind singing the songs for me..."
The audience looked at each other incredulously and hesitated. But this closet rockstar wasn't gonna let an opportunity like this pass me by, so I jumped up, yelled a hearty "C'mon, let's go!" to our guests, and head up on stage.
There were about 10 of us on stage when Sting pointed to a small TelePrompTer screen with the lyrics of "Every Breath You Take" on it. Suddenly, he started plunking the song's unmistakable bass line, and said "Let's get the blokes to sing the verses, and the ladies will sing the chorus." Some guy I don't know started the song, and then Sting tugged my jacket, said "You're next," and before I knew it, I was belting out the second verse through the arena's P.A.
Surreal. Luckily, I knew the words by heart, so I could turn back and see Stewart Copeland behind me and Andy Summers to me extreme left...just to make sure this whole thing wasn't being imagined. (It wasn't, as you see now...)
This continued for about 45 minutes. About half the guests made it up on stage, if not to sing lead, to sing along, to dance or to just say that they were onstage with The Police. This was a Surprise they'll be talking about for the rest of their lives. When the band left, they did so to perhaps the loudest proportionate Standing O (remember, there were only 125 of us) they ever got. And one well-deserved.
So, three things to close:
- The band didn't have to do this. They could've run through a quick, perfunctory instrument and microphone check-up and fulfilled their part of the bargain. That they decided to explode a Pow! moment of epic proportions proved them to be veritable gentlemen, and endeared them to all of us (and probably to you folks, now) forever. Great P.R. (See the YouTube clip of "Every Breath You Take," unfortunately filmed AFTER I was done, here.)
- This was no ploy; this was making the best of a bad situation. Sting's cold turned into a flu, which forced the cancellation of the band's show in Philadelphia two days later.
- When Garner and I got to meet Sting backstage to sign a bass guitar we would later auction off for charity, his first words to me were: "Hey, you were pretty good out there! You knew that song! I may have to call you down during the show to help me out." P.S. I'm still available...
Oh, and one last bit--hanging with David Suzuki was the added bonus to this dream. More on him later this week. But for now, a couple of bonus pix: