SHOW REVIEW

Every little thing he does is still magic - Sting pleases Boston fans once more, with feeling...

Chalk it up to the spiritually evolved lifestyle. Sting seems to have tapped into an endless supply of renewable energy, playing and replaying songs that are as well toned as his Yoga-sculpted physique and enduring as his tantrically enhanced vision of love.

The artist's packed Boston concert was the final stop on the third US tour in support of 1999's 'Brand New Day'. That's the same show in the same market for the third time. But even more surprising than the staying power of Sting's appealing but hardly earthshaking album is the artist's own unflagging interest in it. It's hard to fake - let alone muster - the sort of spark and vigor Sting and company played with on Saturday after nearly two years of trotting out the same 90 minutes of music. And yet it surpassed by a long shot last summer's show at the Tweeter Center. The unlikely vivacity has its roots in an equally uncommon feat: Sting and his audience have matured with a rare synchronicity. He's bridged the gap between youth and adulthood for a generation of fans who were weaned on the rough-and-tumble economy of the Police, and who have now happily settled in for the long haul with Sting's complex, attractive fusion of jazz, pop, and world music as a comforting soundtrack.

For better or worse, Sting smooths the seams of time and change in concert by translating old Police hits into a polished, temperate vocabulary. The fire and urgency of 'Roxanne' were replaced with warmth and virtuosity in Saturday's sophisticated jam, and one hardly missed the original political charge of 'When the World Is Running Down' when the young lions in Sting's seven-piece band took their stunning solo turns.

While drummer Manuc Katche's singular rhythms and guitarist Dominic Miller's deft, tasty licks were indispensable, it was trumpeter Chris Botti who emerged as the heartbeat of the band. Botti spent much of the set front and center blowing brassy counterpart to Sting's seasoned vocals: whimsical filigree on the delicate, quirky 'Seven Days', twisting trails on the moody ''Moon Over Bourbon Street,'' and sweeping blasts on the Eastern-flavored 'Desert Rose'.

Sting toyed with arrangements just enough to infuse familiar songs with a pleasant sheen of invention, but not so much that he distracted from his fundamental crowd-pleasing mission. That, in a nutshell, is Sting's gift. The show opener, a lilting, bassless version of 'A Thousand Years', segued into 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', which made up for the shamelessly cliched lyric with convoluted beats and dense harmonies. 'After the Rain Has Fallen', 'We'll Be Together', and 'Mad About You' followed, setting a crisp, tightly paced tone that would carry the show through to the final encore: Sting's now familiar solo version of 'Message in A Bottle'. The songs established that mild-mannered, mass-appeal jazz-pop can rise far above the mind-numbing pap of wallpaperists like Kenny G.

Jill Scott opened with a lovely set of jazz-soaked soul and rich spoken word. Scott is an eloquent street poet whose debut, 'Who Is Jill Scott: Words and Sounds Vol. 1', was nominated for a Grammy this year, and her live performance on an arena stage showed an ease and grace that belied her newcomer status.

(c) The Boston Globe by Joan Anderman<



Sting gives Boston a 'Brand New' show...

It's been a long road to the end of a 'Brand New Day'.

Sting has now toured the U.S. three times for that 1999 album and he closed up shop last night at the FleetCenter with a lengthy show that was far friskier than we had a right to expect this late in the game.

Although he did many of his standard Sting things - the neutered versions of old Police hits like 'Roxanne', a supremely perfunctory 'Every Breath You Take' - he also threw in a few welcome left turns and seemed energized for this final performance.

The night began with a new-old pattern that seemed designed to prove the relevance of the songs from 'Brand New Day', an album rescued by car and computer commercials. Hence his latest single, the lilting opener 'A Thousand Years' was followed by his very first solo single, the insistent and sloganeering 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' The comparatively flat, rhythm track-enhanced 'After the Rain Has Fallen' preceded a downright rocking 'We'll Be Together' with guitarist Dominic Miller effortlessly peeling off piquant spurts of electric fire.

Backed by a stellar six-piece combo that included stalwarts Miller, deft drummer Manu Katche and longtime backing vocalist Janic Pendarvis, der Stingle hit his stride about six songs in when he tossed in the darkly sweeping 'Mad About You', from 1991's underrated 'Soul Cages' and then segued into the truly comic and impossibly percussive 'Seven Days' that showcased Katche's exquisite way with a drum kit.

Trumpeter Chris Botti proved invaluable all night, especially on the noirish Brechtian-bayou blend of 'Moon Over Bourbon Street'. As Sting evoked Anne Rice's famed vampire LeStat roaming the streets of New Orleans with rough and randy vocals, Botti weighed in with smoky curlicues of sound.

Miller lent sensual grooves to the burnished ballad 'Fields of Gold' and Sting himself lent sparkle to 'Englishman in New York'.

Two local ladies attempted to add belly dancing to the majestic, sub-Saharan sweep of 'Desert Rose' and the regular set ended with a smoking band workout of 'When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around'.

You'd never guess that simpatico opener Jill Scott was hospitalized earlier this month with a lung infection. Being forced to rest - and miss several dates of the tour - obviously did the gifted songstress a world of good as her brassy, jazz-soul voice soared on her graceful mid-tempo examinations of love.

Although low-key, late-night numbers like 'Getting in the Way' and 'Long Walk' didn't seem to draw the audience response Scott craved, she was playing a big venue to someone else's audience so her criticism of the crowd for not being more excited seemed odd. Considering how insightful much of her Grammy-nominated album is, you'd think she'd know that you have to earn ovations.

(c) The Boston Herald by Sarah Rodman

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