04.22.05 Oxford Gig Review...


Big-name music star comes to rock the region...

As a sea of yelling and screaming fans clapped their hands, Sting raised his guitar, leaped into the air and rifled off the final chord of 'Message in a Bottle'.

The applause was deafening. And the crowd, about 8,000 strong, was captivated from the beginning.

Sting flew into the Richmond Municipal Airport in the middle of the afternoon and jumped in a van for the short jaunt to southwest Ohio.

During Sting's appearance Wednesday night in Oxford, Ohio, the artist played his hits and a Beatles classic with a sense of composure and style that almost seemed uncanny for the aging rock star, who is 53.

But Sting was as solid as ever. And the two-hour set, a mix of loud rock anthems and gentler ballads, kept the mostly middle-aged audience on its feet.

The show, a stop on the "Broken Music Tour," featured hits from Sting's solo career and his tenure as the lead singer and bassist for The Police, which disbanded in 1984. Sting's band, a more stripped-down version of previous ventures, featured only the essentials - drums, bass and guitar.

"He appealed to so many age groups," said Cathy Anshutz-O'Maley of Richmond, who attended the show with husband, Terry, and friends Mike and Cathy Sherer. "The crowd was singing. His blend reflected that he was sensitive to a variety of ages."

The band played the hits, 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', 'Every Breath You Take', 'Synchronicity II', 'Roxanne' and 'Fields of Gold'. The songs were memorable and became a platform for other songs that Sting said hadn't been played in "many, many years."

Those songs, 'Bed's Too Big Without You', 'Driven to Tears' and 'Heavy Cloud No Rain', were embraced like they were some of the audience's favorites.

The set also referenced many other musicians who Sting said has influenced his career.

On, 'I Hung My Head', Sting paid tribute to his friend Johnny Cash, with whom he recorded the song.

He also played one of his favorite Beatles' songs.

"I owe a great debt to the Beatles," he said before playing 'A Day in the Life'.

"I think they were the greatest band in the world."

Sting's charm also won over the audience. On 'End of the Game', a song Sting said was about hunting, he asked the crowd if there were foxes in Ohio.

A woman in the crowd yelled back, "We're looking at one."

Sting, slightly surprised, chuckled and started into the song.

© The Palladium-Item by Brian Zimmerman