Sacred Love
Jan
31
2004
Dallas, USNextstage
With Chris Botti
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Sting updates synchronicity...

Most veteran rockers don't bother to play more than a few new tunes in concert, lest cranky fans whine and moan about having to sit through songs they don't know.

But Sting had the guts to play his new album, 'Sacred Love', almost in its entirety Saturday night at NextStage. And lo and behold, not a single rotten egg or head of lettuce was seen flying toward the stage.

It helps that the CD, while by no means Sting's best, is miles ahead of what a lot of his peers from the '70s and '80s are putting out these days. And unlike Neil Young, who put concertgoers to sleep this summer by playing his new album from start to finish, Sting wisely sprinkled the new stuff in with familiar songs spanning from 'Roxanne' to 'Desert Rose'.

He started the show playing stand-up bass on a splendid finger-poppin' jazz remake of the Police's 'Walking on the Moon'. But the very next song - a slick, synth-heavy version of 'Send Your Love' - set the stage for a concert that was too sterile at times: Hardly a stray or improvised note was heard all night, as if Sting and his seven-piece band were so concerned with perfection, they forgot about emotion.

Still, they managed to turn off the autopilot often enough to keep the capacity crowd entranced. If the new 'Forget About the Future' showed how funky and tough Sting can be, 'Fragile' and 'Fields of Gold' reminded you what a haunting balladeer he is.

He's also a savvy rearranger, as he proved by transforming 'Roxanne' into psychedelic reggae and ending it as a call-and-response with the crowd. Another new tune, 'Never Coming Home', came alive thanks to a wicked bebop solo from pianist Jason Rebello.

Sting also got some valuable help from opening act Chris Botti, who returned to lend his Miles Davis-style trumpet to 'Seven Days', and 'Stolen Car', a new tune about a psychic car thief. And backup singer Joy Rose briefly stole the show during 'Whenever I Say Your Name': Mary J. Blige duets with Sting on the 'Sacred Love' version, but after the soulful Ms. Rose was done with the number Saturday, the question was ''Mary J. who?''

(c) The Dallas Morning News by Thor Christensen

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