Sting brushes time aside in sublime performance...
If the former Police frontman, who joined the sexagenarian club this month, has lost a step, it wasn’t evident Friday night at the Citi Wang Theatre.
Sixty looks good on Sting.
More importantly it sounds terrific. If the singer-songwriter and former Police frontman, who joined the sexagenarian club this month, has lost a step, it wasn’t evident Friday night at the Citi Wang Theatre as he kicked off his 'Back to Bass' tour with an exquisite two-hour performance in support of his recently released box set, 'Sting: 25 Years.' (He returned Saturday night.)
A master of dynamics and extremely savvy casting agent of backing musicians, Sting and his airtight quintet played songs from almost every single pop album he’s released, from the Police’s 1978 debut to 2003’s 'Sacred Love'. (Oddly, 1987’s 'Nothing Like the Sun' was bypassed.)
The varied set list mixed a handful of Police classics - including a taut 'Demolition Man', and a solo encore of 'Message in a Bottle' - with some of Sting’s big solo hits - sultry takes on 'Fields of Gold' and 'Fortress Around Your Heart' - and a clutch of deeper, late career cuts that proved more than worthy of reexamination, including an incendiary version of 'Inside' that drew the sold-out crowd to its feet for its blistering, ranting climax.
Although he claimed to be nervous, the rocker appeared refreshed and was charming throughout the night, sharing anecdotes about the songs, paying tribute to his wife, quoting George Bernard Shaw, and generally appearing to enjoy the rediscovery and rearrangement of several songs. Little of the fussiness or pretension of which he is often accused was on display. Yes, he is exacting, frequently employing hand gestures to the band and sound engineer to achieve the desired mix, but it’s hard to argue with the sublime results.
If it were permissible to spend an entire review of a rock star rhapsodizing about said star’s drummer, this space would be devoted to the off-the-charts skills of veteran Vinnie Colaiuta, who transcended the concept of mere timekeeping on such songs as the odd-metered 'Seven Days' and 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)'.
The entire band was exemplary. From Aussie singer Jo Lawry’s shaded harmonies throughout the night and her impassioned solo vocalizing on 'The Hounds of Winter', to Peter Tickell’s electric fiddle flourishes, to the solos of lead guitarist Dominic Miller (Sting’s right hand for years) it was a tasty combination of lyrical and warped but economical. Miller’s son Rufus filled out both the guitar and vocal layers. And in a pleasant surprise, former Sting band member trumpeter Chris Botti popped up to burnish 'Seven Days' and 'Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing)'.
(c) The Boston Globe by Sarah Rodman