Jul
08
2000

Buffalo, NY, US (Darien Lake 6 Flags Performing Arts Center)

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With Tracy Chapman

SHOW REVIEW

Sting now delivers adult exhilaration...

Sting once famously commented that his studies of yoga and meditation extended his sexual stamina to seven hours, before confessing to Esquire magazine last year that those seven hours now include ''dinner and a movie.''

Otherwise, time seems to have treated Sting well. His voice is still the high, urgent instrument he wielded while with the Police. His body looks taut beneath a black, sleeveless T-shirt, his head seemingly modeled after the portraits on ancient Roman coins. And he still has the roguish look of the eternal instigator in his eye. On a summer concert schedule dominated by teen thrillers, it was an evening with Sting and Tracy Chapman last night at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center for mom and dad.

Perhaps the adults were re-igniting their relationship with 'Roxanne', the love song to a prostitute, the kind of song that the Backstreet Boys have yet to write.

Or perhaps 'Tomorrow We'll See', from Sting's last album, 'Brand New Day', does it for them now. That's a new Sting song inspired by the transvestite prostitutes of Paris, the love song that 'N Sync has yet to write.

Sting still brings a colossal sense of self-purpose to the stage, but it seems tempered by an impish sense of fun now. He had 14,000 mature adults singing along to 'Englishman in New York', with the crowd sharp enough to pick up its end of the call-and-response on 'Roxanne' without any prompting from Sting.

Most importantly, Sting remains musically hungry, as he demonstrates on his most recent album. He took his time in crafting that work, and the sounds are almost dizzying, backing songs that are all, in one sense or another, love songs.

Most impressive is 'Desert Rose', the soaring current single on which he duets with the French-Algerian singer Cheb Mami. Cheb Mami is not on this tour, but Sting nevertheless presented a very full-sounding version amid a scintillating set that suggested an African desert at night: all blue lights, like moonlight, and simulated torches dancing with orange light.

'Moon Over Bourbon Street' was another atmospheric gem, with round Japanese lanterns - one with the moon projected on it - with a mournful trumpet by Chris Botti and Sting growling like Louis Armstrong and howling like a dog.

Sting has effectively re-made himself from his days with the Police, and complex songs such as 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', 'We'll Be Together' and 'Fragile' show off his many influences. Or are they self-indulgences? Sting just loves fancy changes in tempo, offbeat rhythms and playing to the crowd, and he offered plenty of tricks last night. On the jazzy and exotic 'Perfect Love...Gone Wrong', Manu Katche stepped out from behind the drums to deliver a rap in French. The jaunty country ditty 'Fill Her Up' suddenly switched to world-beat rhythms. 'Englishman in New York' switched from its syncopated island beat to jazz to funk.

When Chapman first emerged in 1988, she was a somnambulant live performer riding the success of a near-perfect pop hit, 'Fast Car'. Two years ago, on Lilith Fair, she had blossomed into an exciting, stage-savvy performer.

Last night, on her first date opening for Sting on this tour, she appeared to have withdrawn into her shell, her guitarists' volume knobs seemingly turned down to 2. But two-thirds of the way through her hour-long set, the guitars suddenly began working and she lit the fire with 'Fast Car' and 'Give Me One Reason'.

The energy level tripled, even though Chapman was still singing the same mournful songs about race and broken humanity. She seems to have been born an old and serious soul, but at least Chapman hasn't been forced to continually explain youthful remarks about the effects of her lifestyle choices on her sexual stamina.

(c) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle by Jeff Spevak

Every little thing Sting did was magic...

Every step Sting takes leads him down the road to sonic safety, a journey that has as much to do with the encroaching middle-age demographics of the artist and his audience.

Nowadays, instead of the powerful, churning material that characterized much of the work he did in his early, rock star days with the Police, Sting has created a set list of pleasant, jazz inflected arrangements reflecting his concerns with environmentalism, spirituality, and an occasional (semi-chaste) fling with carnality.

The audience for his concert Saturday night was primed for the unveiling of solid, well-played hits, rising in ovation time and time again, as Sting's talented septet wove a silken audio tapestry that ranged over the landscape of his career including early standards from his Police stint ('Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take') plus works drawn from all periods of his solo career ('Englishman In New York', 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', and We'll Be Together', and cuts from his latest album, 'Brand New Day').

Tracy Chapman's concert opening set relied, like Sting's, upon the revisiting of older material with a smattering of new cuts from her latest opus. There was a very healthy representation from her contingent of fans and some folks were singing along with many of Chapman's selections.

(c) The Buffalo News by Garaud MacTaggart

SET LIST

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