On Being a Groupie


At Thanksgiving, the Pittsburgh Moms Blog contributors were asked to write what they were thankful for in a Facebook post. Most contributors wrote about their families, but I took the opportunity to turn in a cheeky post about how I was thankful for my “boyfriend” Sting.

Readers probably assumed that I have a little crush on the guy, but in reality, it’s much more than that. To say I “like” him is clearly an understatement. In fact, I’m a confirmed Sting groupie – I own every album, know every song and DVR every appearance, interview and award. But perhaps more impressively, over the course of the past twenty years, I have seen eleven of his concerts in five different states. Yep, you read that right: nearly a dozen concerts (in addition to one Broadway show) all over the mid-Atlantic and Florida.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

When I reveal this, most people ask why. Haven’t I seen him enough? Isn’t he practically geriatric by now? Aren’t I bored yet? The answer to all of these questions is a solid “no.”  Sting and his concerts have been intermingled with some of the most important moments in my life.

Let me explain…

After graduation from college, I was in a pharmacy training program at a hospital in Philadelphia. A co-worker learned of my interest in Sting, and she happily arranged a blind date with an anesthesiology resident who had tickets to his concert in Atlantic City. It was my first Sting concert, and even though the blind date didn’t work out, I was hooked. The guy is a deep thinker, his music is catchy, and dang, he looks good.

A year later, I was training at a hospital in Tampa when Sting announced another tour in Gainsville, Florida – more than two hours away. I had met a special young man and he offered to go with me, demonstrating what a considerate guy he was. We got engaged later that year.

At our wedding, we made sure to play a few Sting songs – do you know “Every Breath You Take” isn’t a romantic ballad after all?? But we didn’t mind. The songs started our new life together.

Two years later, we saw Sting in Tampa. I was heavily pregnant, and we viewed the event as one of our last carefree evenings before some major life changes happened.

Five years later, we saw Sting the night before our house went on the market so we could move back to Pittsburgh. It was an outdoor show and I remember how pleasant the breeze was. I was very apprehensive about what the upcoming months would bring, and the familiarity of the songs was a great comfort.

Me finding Sting’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2013.

Fast forward a few more years and a few more concerts, and I suddenly found myself with breast cancer. Facing a major surgery and potentially months of chemotherapy and radiation afterwards, my surgical oncologist advised that we take “one last weekend” before confronting cancer head on. So my husband and I flew to New York City in the midst of a January snowstorm to see Sting perform in his Broadway musical The Last Ship just hours before it closed.  Both Sting and I were walking into another new chapter of our lives that afternoon.

Ten months later, I celebrated kicking cancer’s a** by going back to New York City and seeing Sting at a one-night show at the world famous Carnegie Hall. He spoke of being in awe of the majestic theater and musical tradition, while I silently wept at my own amazing fortune of being healthy enough to see and hear him yet again.

Program and ticket from the concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City in December 2015.

This March, my husband and I traveled to Philadelphia to see Sting on his latest tour.  It was in an extremely small venue that was standing room only, and through an incredible stroke of luck, we ended up in the dead center of the fourth row.  Despite seeing him nearly a dozen times in concert, this was an experience like none before.  Songs sound a lot different in an intimate concert hall, where you are close enough to nearly touch the performers!

Sting at the Filmore Theater in Philadelphia in March 2017.

I like to think that Sting’s music and concerts have connected important parts of my life, like tiny glittering stars dotted all across the sky. He’s turning gray now… and so am I. His latest works have been reflecting on his life and good fortune, and so am I. He’s accomplished so much but still feels that he has lots to do, and so do I.  After all this time, he’s still got it… and hopefully, so do I.


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Karen Fancher is a “relapsed Pittsburgher.” Raised near Latrobe, PA, she studied pharmacy at Duquesne University but was lured away by the sunny skies of Florida shortly after graduation. She spent 10 years in Tampa, and during that time acquired an insightful daughter, a kindhearted son, a Midwestern husband and a spoiled cat (but not in that order). In 2010, the entire crowd relocated home to Pittsburgh. She is currently a professor in Duquesne University’s School of Pharmacy, where she teaches oncology. When she’s not on an adventure with her family, you can find her cooking, reading or daydreaming about musical legend Sting.