Sweet Sting of success...
Amidst the cheers last winter. when it was announced Sting would visit St. John's on his Back to Bass tour, were the inevitable moans. "Dinosaur rock," some groused.
It is true.
At 61, the artist formerly known as Gordon Sumner has enjoyed little recent notoriety.
His latest chart-topping solo hits are a good decade gone, and the first ones to cheer that New Wave sensation, The Police, are old and grizzled.
Fans of today's music might see him, as one wag stated, "another washed-up has-been."
Think what you want, youngster. Sting packed One Mile Centre Wednesday night, and none of those terms came to mind.
Instead, the gathered thousands cheered, danced and welcomed the bassist and band with unbridled enthusiasm.
True, it's not as if we Newfoundlanders (not sure about the Labradorians) don't love us some classic rock.
Heck, the biggest shows in the last five years have been solid gold, back when gold was worth something. Neil Young, John Fogerty, Leonard Cohen, Deep Purple - need we go on? The promoters know this, and we enjoy the fruits of their labours every summer and, more and more, throughout the year.
It's not like we're alone in this, people. St. John's is just one stop for all these acts, and they're not playing Joe's Bar and Grill in the bigger towns.
Sting's Back To Bass tour started in 2011, launched its Canadian leg in May and has been collecting stunning reviews and huge crowds at every stop.
The tour is built on simplicity; six musicians, a bit of razzle, some musical dazzle. Original E-Streeter David Sancious sits at the Keyboard, with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and guitarist Dominic Miller, violin and mandolin from Peter Tickell and the added richness of Jo Lawry's backing vocals.
It's a tight, intimate group you might like to see at Joe's, but they had no trouble filling every ear at Mile One.
Can we single out one performer as shining? No, Each brought maximum talent to the stage. Nicely chosen. (How does one get hired to play for Sting, anyway?)
On their feet from the moment the show opened with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', a Grammy-winning tune from 1993's 'Ten Summoner's Tales', the crowd ate it up.
Trim and fit, in black jeans and white T, Sting brought the funk from the start. Bass player, right?
And that voice, the voice that pulled The Police into the highest levels of popular music, and held the man himself there for years, remains nearly as crisp and bright as it has ever been.
Goading the audience into singing - it didn't take much - right at the second song, The Police classic 'Every Little Thing She Does', he jumped across the catalogue, the years, the many albums. And the styles.
Much of Sting's solo work tastes of jazz, has orchestral sweep, digs in for the heavy drive. All this he brings to the stage.
Never speaking too long, the singer did share the origins of 'Fields Of Gold' (the crops surrounding his English castle), his country-music ambitions (Johnny Cash covered his 'I Hung My Head") and his Screech-in experience (and resulting illness on Signal Hill, to great ovation.)
There was another ovation for 'Message In A Bottle', the 1979 Police single Sting has said is his favourite song.
Apparently he's not alone in that.
And at the end, after 'Roxanne', the encore came quickly, and the second just as quickly after the stalker anthem 'Every Breath You Take' and the third with one of The Police's best, 'Next To You'.
All still all were left wanting more as he eased them out with 'Fragile'.
What more could you want from a concert?
(c) The Telegram by Ken Simmons