ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 3, 2000
By Steve Newton
Just before Sting took the stage at GM Place last Friday (July 28), one of his guitar techs strode out with a Stratocaster and, while checking the sound of the on-stage monitors, banged off a few power chords, even conjuring a brief moment of feedback. “That’s the raunchiest this show’s ever gonna get,” I thought to myself, and I was right.
But that’s okay. I hadn’t come expecting to see the former Police man leap about amid the ska-punk racket of his old power trio. I realize that he’s mellowed into the kind of laid-back, adult-contemporary artist fans of Celine Dion and Yanni admire. I was mainly there because my younger sister is a big Sting fan, and if taking my siblings out to see acts like Sting, Elton John, and Tina Turner is what’s needed to keep the family together, so be it.
Sting started things off quietly with “A Thousand Years”, the opening track of his current Brand New Day CD, noodling away on electric guitar before switching to the familiar bass for his 1985 hit “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free”. Even though I’m not Sting’s number one fan, I certainly admire his skills as a singer-bassist. He’s the only one-named wonder among the likes of Bono, Cher, and Madonna who’s proficient on an instrument as well as vocals. And his immaculate band—which included two keyboardists, a guitarist, a drummer, a backup vocalist/hand percussionist, and an awesome trumpet player—was an accomplished ensemble that ranged effortlessly between the new album’s country-and-western (“Fill Her Up”), hip-hop (“Perfect Love…Gone Wrong”), and funk-pop (“Brand New Day”) stylings.
At the first sign of a Police song—1981’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”—large portions of the crowd suddenly stood up and started acting like rock fans. A few tunes later Sting got them all riled up again with his choppy hooker ode, “Roxanne”, and the extreme audience response made me wonder what’s stopping him from getting back together with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland and packing stadiums everywhere with a Police reunion tour.
Judging by his healthy glow and muscular physique, I’d guess that Sting could still leap about if he needed to. And seeing as everything from his ticket stubs to his huge stageside banners signified corporate involvement with the “sting.compaq.com” plug, he obviously likes money. The undying love people have for the Police was driven home by the wild reactions Sting got for including “Every Breath You Take” and “Message in a Bottle” in his impressive four-song encore.