At Oakdale, Sting Shows He Still Has It...
As easy as it is to think of Sting as the frontman for the Police, those days were a relatively brief prelude to a solo career that has run more than a quarter century since.
His current tour celebrates the catalog he has built on his own with some Police tunes thrown in, and in its stop at the Toyota Presents Oakdale in Wallingford Monday, the Englishman three weeks past his 60th birthday plowed through songs with remarkable vigor, showing no more effects of age than his smartly constructed pop rock.
Alongside a five-piece band built for flexible interpretations, Sting filled the bass slot, thumbing his way through an opener of 'All This Time' while yelping atop its plump chug. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta handled the other half of the rhythm section with flair, inserting a percolating rattle into 'Seven Days" and prodding the propulsive 'Demolition Man' while a pair of fiddles gave its borders unexpected color.
Guitarist Dominic Miller etched tasteful flourishes across each arrangement, defining the country bounce of 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying', and scrawling sizzle across the slinky face of 'Sacred Love'. Miller's son Rufus provided an acoustic bookend from across the stage, flowing through 'I Hung My Head' while Sting grappled with its lyrics in a breathy tone.
Sting didn't bring much physical language to tunes as he perched behind a center stage microphone, but nevertheless infused the likes of 'Driven To Tears' with raw energy. He nestled comfortably into a laid-back 'Fields Of Gold' gilded with Peter Tickell's fiddle, and brought cool finesse to the deliberate 'Ghost Story', even when it accelerated into another gear.
Never one to let his songs do all their own talking, Sting brought a storyteller's sensibilities to the proceedings, but kept the anecdotes concise in a program that hustled through a broad expanse of a notably broad career. He provided background for the stout 'Stolen Car', dug into love's philosophical underpinnings as prelude to 'Inside', and recounted his youthful fondness for Westerns as a point of entry to 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)'.
Arrangements were economical, but atmosphere was plentiful, found in touches like the second fiddle vocalist Jo Lawry provided for 'End Of The Game', and Miller's electric guitar texture amid the insistent bob of the driving closer 'Never Coming Home'.The show leaned on the virtues of simplicity, from the minimalist stage set to a lighting array comprised almost exclusively of white lights.
Four songs over three encores rounded the show to a very full two hours, beginning with a rousing inflation of 'Desert Rose' and an equally oversized workout of 'Every Breath You Take'. Sting made a lively return to his punk roots by barreling through the Police nugget 'Next To You', and finished the night with another trip back to the band's early days, a relaxed but strong solo acoustic offering of 'Message In A Bottle'.
(c) The Hartford Courant by Thomas Kintner
Sting tells tales at Oakdale...
Telling the stories that inspired the songs while retracing the steps of his solo career, rock icon Sting performed a two hour set at the Toyota Presents the Oakdale Theater on Monday night.
Widely recognized as the front man for The Police, Sting has launched his 'Back to Bass' tour to highlight the 25 years of material that followed his work with that seminal band.
Despite turning 60 earlier in the month, Sting remains sinewy and svelte, sporting a second-skin style shirt and jeans while hiding behind his bass guitar. He was joined on stage by a five-piece band that included the father-son guitar duo of Dominic and Rufus Miller along with veteran drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.
The ensemble opened with 'All This Time', suggesting a greatest hits theme that never really materialized. Save for 'Fortress Around Your Heart', Sting stayed away from songs on 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles' and hits from '…Nothing But the Sun', concentrating more on mid-90s work from “Ten Summoner’s Tales,” and “Mercury Falling.”
He professed an affinity for country music with 'I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying', but admitted he lacked authenticity in the genre.
"Not really authentic coming from the north of England," he said. "But for a boy from Newcastle to have the legendary Johnny Cash record his song, that was vindication."
Sting followed with the referenced song 'Hung My Head'.
The singer was in storytelling mode throughout the night, sharing his inspirations for the lyrics of songs. In some instances, the story added depth to the performance such as when he talked about his troubled relationship with his late father before playing 'Ghost Story'. At times his stories were less poignant, like his explanation of 'The End of the Game', which was apparently penned as a love story for a male and female fox just before the hunt.
The show was really a music lover’s dream with no-frills lighting, bare-bones stage set up, and no overhead video screens to distract from the live performance.
Colaiuta was pressed into duty for a press-roll intro to 'Hounds of Winter', and gave the spotlight over to fiddler Peter Tickell during a colossal jam on 'Love is Stronger than Justice (The Munificent Seven)'.
The effort earned the young musician a standing ovation.
Sting didn’t entirely ignore his roots with The Police, using his extended triple encore to unleash a few favorites on the crowd including 'Every Breath You Take', and an acoustic 'Message in a Bottle'.
(c) The Republican by Donnie Moorhouse