SHOW REVIEW

Sting rises - belatedly - to occasion...

Last night was couples night at Great Woods, and pop superstar Sting was more than happy to play host to the 6,450 pairs who attended his '90s version of ''The Dating Game.''

Why, Mr. Gordon Sumner even invited one gent onstage and allowed him to propose to his longtime ladyfriend in front of several thousand close friends.

We never heard the response, but a couple of minutes later much of the crowd had turned away from the stage and was cheering and applauding. So, either she accepted or the two were having a knock-down, drag-out fight. Let's assume it was the former.

It fits the general tone of the evening much better.

That wasn't the Brit bassman's only interaction with the Great Woods crowd.

He also invited another fellow onstage to adequately sing the chorus to 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' from the recent 'Mercury Falling' disc.

Those two mini-soap operas came midway through Sting's 110-minute, 21-song set, and the timing was ideal.

He had pretty much been on automatic pilot to that point. The old joke among comics is that they never laugh at each other's quips, the highest compliment they'll ever pay a smart line is to utter, ''That's funny.''

Midway through last night's show, the best to be said about the concert was, ''That's tasty.''

But Sting shifted into a higher gear in the latter half of the set with help from longtime cohorts Kenny Kirkland (keyboards), Dominic Miller (guitars), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), and a couple of horn players.

A couple of old Police numbers, 'Roxanne' and 'Synchronicity', got the ball rolling. A punchy 'Bring on the Night', followed by feisty takes of 'Demolition Man' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' added some steamy flourishes.

Sting wore a woollen sleeveless jerkin, paratrooper pants, and boots. His hair was short and just scruffy enough to cement his image as a Baby Boomer heartthrob, and there was sheer lust in the eyes of more than one woman in the audience.

Still the musical chameleon, Sting toyed with several sounds in his set and tinkered even with some of his classic tunes.

New numbers like 'The Hounds of Winter' and 'Let Your Soul be Your Pilot' had a bluesy, r&b feel. 'I Was Brought to My Senses' had a breezy, island flavor colored by Kirkland's intentionally cheesy carnival keyboard break.

'Roxanne' is more ska than reggae these days, and last night's rendition even included a trombone break.

But under Sting's steady - sometimes too steady - hand, it all coalesced into a show that sent the masses home happy, especially when they got to sing along on 'Every Breath You Take'.

(c) The Boston Herald by Dean Johnson

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