57th & 9th
Mar
03
2017
Chicago, USAragon Ballroom
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Sting sharp in return to rock roots at Aragon...

On the surface, Sting's sold-out concert Friday at the Aragon could be interpreted as a long-overdue return to his roots. The singer's appearance at the midsize venue marked a departure from his usual arena circuit and returned him to a space he played with his former group, the Police, during its heyday.

The show also came on the heels of the recent "57th & 9th," Sting's first rock/pop album in more than a decade. It features material a world removed from the stuffy theatrical, classical and adult-contemporary fare that held his interest for the majority of the 21st century.

Yet the performance went beyond the notion of an aging star proving he connected to the youthful-minded style that originally brought him fame. Primarily consisting of selections from his new record and Police favorites, the 105-minute set illuminated the economy and sharpness Sting can provide songs when not preoccupied with fussy arrangements and ornate instrumentation. Just as significant, it revealed the famously serious artist still knows how to have fun. Who knew?

The looseness of guitarist Dominic Miller and drummer Josh Freese, who allowed some of the force gleaned from his stint with Nine Inch Nails seep into the music, helped. Ditto the presence of Last Bandoleros. The opening band supplied harmony vocals and enhanced several works ("She's Too Good for Me," "Fields of Gold") with accordion accents. Sting's focus did the rest of the heavy lifting. When introducing "I Hung My Head," the vocalist talked about seeing a country band last week in Nashville. He expressed admiration for its "craft" and "dignity." The same could be said for Sting's melodic devices and taut finesse.

Wearing a tight-fitting T-shirt, and not at all looking 65 years old, Sting largely resisted making grand statements. He kept the approaches lean, frequently grinned and even took a few shots at his prestige. Save for the highest regions, his voice seemed immune to age, particularly when belting out up-tempo numbers such as "So Lonely." Sting's fluid, flexible, albeit grounded, bass lines reflected the uncluttered construction and innate catchiness of the songs.

"I Can't Stop Thinking About You" unfolded as a series of crisp hooks. The hard-driving "Petrol Head" accelerated around racetrack curves. Guided by Freese's punch-drunk percussion, "Walking on the Moon" instigated call-and-response audience chants. Only the pedestrian "Down, Down, Down" felt out of place.

Sting saved the weightiest moment for last, closing with the Oscar-nominated "The Empty Chair," written about murdered journalist James Foley. The quiet ballad sounded an alarm for the importance of seeking out truth—and conveyed the consequences in a society that fails to do so.

On the surface, Sting's sold-out concert Friday at the Aragon could be interpreted as a long-overdue return to his roots. The singer's appearance at the midsize venue marked a departure from his usual arena circuit and returned him to a space he played with his former group, the Police, during its heyday.

The show also came on the heels of the recent "57th & 9th," Sting's first rock/pop album in more than a decade. It features material a world removed from the stuffy theatrical, classical and adult-contemporary fare that held his interest for the majority of the 21st century.

Yet the performance went beyond the notion of an aging star proving he connected to the youthful-minded style that originally brought him fame. Primarily consisting of selections from his new record and Police favorites, the 105-minute set illuminated the economy and sharpness Sting can provide songs when not preoccupied with fussy arrangements and ornate instrumentation. Just as significant, it revealed the famously serious artist still knows how to have fun. Who knew?

The looseness of guitarist Dominic Miller and drummer Josh Freese, who allowed some of the force gleaned from his stint with Nine Inch Nails seep into the music, helped. Ditto the presence of Last Bandoleros. The opening band supplied harmony vocals and enhanced several works ("She's Too Good for Me," "Fields of Gold") with accordion accents. Sting's focus did the rest of the heavy lifting. When introducing "I Hung My Head," the vocalist talked about seeing a country band last week in Nashville. He expressed admiration for its "craft" and "dignity." The same could be said for Sting's melodic devices and taut finesse.

Wearing a tight-fitting T-shirt, and not at all looking 65 years old, Sting largely resisted making grand statements. He kept the approaches lean, frequently grinned and even took a few shots at his prestige. Save for the highest regions, his voice seemed immune to age, particularly when belting out up-tempo numbers such as "So Lonely." Sting's fluid, flexible, albeit grounded, bass lines reflected the uncluttered construction and innate catchiness of the songs.

"I Can't Stop Thinking About You" unfolded as a series of crisp hooks. The hard-driving "Petrol Head" accelerated around racetrack curves. Guided by Freese's punch-drunk percussion, "Walking on the Moon" instigated call-and-response audience chants. Only the pedestrian "Down, Down, Down" felt out of place.

Sting saved the weightiest moment for last, closing with the Oscar-nominated "The Empty Chair," written about murdered journalist James Foley. The quiet ballad sounded an alarm for the importance of seeking out truth - and conveyed the consequences in a society that fails to do so.

(c) The Chicago Tribune by Bob Gendron

Sting rocks Aragon Ballroom...

Sting commands an audience whether he's entertaining in a cavernous venue or a more intimate space.

The English rocker/songwriter brought his show to The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on March 3. He performed a nearly two-hour concert to a sold-out house of fans who didn't appear to mind standing shoulder to shoulder to hear the iconic lead vocalist of The Police.

Sting, who's touring in support of his latest solo release "57th and 9th," delivered a good mix of new material as well as Police favorites. This concert found the entertainer who has proved his talents in various genres of music, to be in extremely fine form. Now, in his mid-60s, Sting is still a musical force to be reckoned with.

Prior to performing his set, Sting introduced his son Joe Sumner, who performed a few tunes. Sumner's vocals are reminiscent of his father's. Also performing an opening set was the group Last Bandoleros, who gave an energetic performance featuring sounds that blended a bit of '60s-style pop, Tex-Mex and country influences. Think The Hollies meets today's contemporary pop sounds.

Sting opened with "Heading South On The Great North Road" and proceeded with strong versions of "Synchronicity II" and "Spirits In The Material World."

He also delivered impressive versions of "Englishman In New York" and "I Can't Stop Thinking Of You."

Highlights on Sting's song roster included "Fields of Gold," the syncopated and driving "Message In A Bottle" and "Every Breath You Take."

His performance of "Roxanne" definitely captured attention as it was blended with a bit of the song "Ain't No Sunshine." As he performed "Roxanne," Sting was bathed in a backdrop of bright red lights.

The rocker's show ended with the poignant "The Empty Chair," which is about beheaded journalist James Foley.

(c) NWITimes by Eloise Marie Valadez

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COMMENTS 1
dynakor March 06,2017
nailed it!
Going in I like Sting and the Police, but my wife is the HUGE Sting fan. Ends up I had an EPIC time. I could barely talk the next day. Still can't get Message in a Bottle out of my head. Just Awesome!!!! Sting and his fans rule.
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