Fiction Plane, Paradise, July 27, 2007
Son of Sting. That’s a mantle. Joe Sumner — the former Berklee student and singer/bassist of Fiction Plane — has carried that for 30 years. Of course, it’s helped and hurt. And dad showed up at the Paradise last Friday near the end of Fiction Plane’s set and clapped loudly during the trio’s encore. “He’s not a kid,” Sting said later, backstage. “He’s spent a lot of time trying to find his father.” (Sting always had Police business.) “But the best way to find your father is to do what he does. He has all the aspects of my DNA, and it’s kind of an out-of-body experience watching him. At the same time, there’s more.”
Sting was right. In vocal timbre, and in his use of dub, reggae, and atmospherics, Sumner is the apple fallen not far from the tree. The first part of the 75-minute set, however, offered a more blustery — and generic — arena-rock sound. It was full of manic bravado, but the music had few twists or turns. With “Cross the Line”/“Sadr City Blues,” Fiction Plane began to explore more nuances and consider worldly issues. (Sadr City is a war-torn Baghdad suburb.) Guitarist Seton Daunt and drummer Pete Wilhoit carved out their turf, and with “Anyone” and “Two Sisters,” Fiction Plane kept tossing tasty treats into the boiling stew. Near the end, with “Cigarette,” Sumner turned dark and cynical. “Money can’t buy you love, I’ll do my best anyway,” he sang, climaxing with, “Fuck yourself! And fuck your cigarette!” In “Hate,” he found a lot of targets, drolly summing up, “Yeah, we hate things.” They closed with an upbeat “Good Times,” joined by three area horn player pals from his Boston days. Fiction Plane — five years old and two CDs deep — had worked through angst and anger, alluded to the Police, and darted away.