Dominic Miller may be best known for his partnership with Sting spanning almost three decades of writing, recording and touring together, but he also has an expansive solo career that has produced multiple albums. As part of their European tour to mark the release of Silent Night, his twelfth record (and first for legendary jazz label ECM), Dominic and his band stopped over for two nights at the 606 Club, one of London’s oldest and most prestigious jazz clubs.
Dominic presented a very wide variety of music on the evening, with a focus on his most recent album. Highlights from it included the gentle ‘Water’ which entranced the audience with its ever-changing chord progression, while ‘Valium’, true to its name (“I’ve never tried it, but if I did, this is what I imagine it would sound like”, Dominic quipped), is a piece so serene and beautiful, that it felt as if everyone in the room held their breaths, lest they interfered with it.
Miller’s trio was completed by two veterans of the jazz scene, Nicolas Fiszman on bass and Miles Bould on drums. Early on, Dominic joked that he gives them no setlist in advance so that they are always on their toes. By the sounds of it, there’s no need for one anyway – the trio were in perfect sync with each other, deciding where to go next with quick glances and mouthed chord names. When an especially pleasing musical moment happened in the heat of improvisation, their faces lit up, laughing at the little surprises they throw each other’s way. It’s pure joy for performers and audience alike.
Stylistically, the concert was exceedingly varied. A composition could easily start off as a flamenco-style guitar serenade and end up as a blues rock hard-hitter, transitioning through several other styles in-between. One of the jams included a proggy odd-time signature section that could have comfortably sat on a Dream Theater album, displaying how comfortable these musicians are in whatever genre comes their way. They also paid homage to some of their favourite music from the 70s, inspired by long sessions listening to music while on the road. First, the wonderfully energetic ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees got the audience singing the immortal ‘ah-ah-ah’-s, followed by a wonderful interpretation of Sweden’s finest export ABBA and ‘The Winner Takes It All’.
Dominic’s output with Sting was not overlooked either. A breathtaking rendition of ‘Fields of Gold’ for solo guitar prompted Dominic to joke “I didn’t write this song… it was written by my singer”, but also on a more serious note to express his gratitude to Sting for the musical journey they have shared for the best part of thirty years. Another song from Sting’s catalogue that Dominic did compose (and, I would argue, one of the best songs ever written) – ‘Shape of My Heart’, was beautifully recreated with the help of friends of a guest singer and a harmonica player who joined the band on-stage. Later on, British jazz guitarist Tony Remy joined for what was initially going to be just one jam session but lead to him staying until the end of the concert, adding blues rock flair and several mindblowing solos to Dominic’s compositions.
Dominic Miller and his fellow musicians played a wonderfully intimate and varied concert at the 606 Club, taking us through a palette of genres and emotions. While Dominic’s involvement in Sting’s post-The Police career may be what he is most famous for, there is tons of worthwhile music that we had the pleasure to witness, and which he and his fellow musicians presented with passion and humour.