Sting: Bring on the Night

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Nov 25, 2008
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Michael Apted

Release Date(s)

1985 (November 24, 2008)

Studio(s)

A&M (Universal Music)

Review

In 1985, Sting took a hiatus from the group that had launched him into superstardom, The Police.  At least that’s what fans thought.  The reality was that The Police were no more, because Sting felt he’d outgrown the 3-piece format.  Wanting to return to his musical roots, he instead recruited a group of first-rate Jazz musicians for an ambitious new solo effort, including the likes of Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, Darryl Jones, Omar Hakim and vocalists Dolette McDonald and Janice Pendarvis.

He also enlisted the talents of filmmaker Michael Apted to capture the formation of this new band, and its first world tour.  Bring on the Night is far from the greatest concert film ever, but it is a wonderful study in character.  Everything that is Sting... everything that motivates him, all his talent and ambition and subtle emotion... is on display in this film.  What’s fascinating is to see the way other, equally talented musicians react and adjust to his personality, pushing him in new directions and vise versa.  It mattered little that the band was creatively dominated by Sting, and that the group only lasted for a couple of albums and tours.  While it lasted, this was an absolutely extraordinary musical endeavor.

The high-definition video quality of this new Blu-ray version from Universal Music is surprisingly good, though you wouldn’t know that at first.  As the film opens, you see tons of obvious film grain, as well as lots of print dust and dirt, and the details appear a little soft – even muddy looking.  But don’t let that fool you: As the film continues, the image quality gets better and better looking.  Color and contrast are good, detail improves (though it varies from shot to shot), and the grain is seldom excessive after the opening titles.  Audio-wise, I was very impressed by the quality of the DTS-HD MA lossless mix included here (a 48/24 PCM 2.0 track is also available).  The soundstage is smooth, natural and nicely enveloping, with a wide front presentation, good bass and light atmospheric surround fill for concert ambience.  The clarity is very pleasing – Roxanne and Message in a Bottle have seldom sounded better than they do when Sting (joined by Branford on Roxanne) performs them in this film, near the end of his Paris live show.

The Blu-ray includes nearly all of the previous DVD extras, including a trio of music videos (for Bring on the Night, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free and Russians – I would have liked Fortress Around Your Heart as well, but that’s a nitpick) in the original standard-definition but with DTS-HD audio.  You also get the film’s original theatrical trailer and a 2-minute video photo gallery of poster art, promotional images and more, both in full HD.

If you’re a fan of Sting and his music, Bring on the Night is required viewing.  The thing you begin to understand about this guy is that while, yes... he does have a something of an ego, he’s got the talent and ambition to match it.  You get the sense that Sting’s a restless guy.  He keeps pushing himself to try new things, to break new ground, to force himself into new creative challenges... simply because that’s just who he is.  So now that this ambition has taken him through a long solo career, and more recently a successfully completed reunion tour with The Police, one can only wonder what’s next.

- Bill Hunt

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