Success leaves him without usual Sting...
You might think that having nabbed three Grammy awards (one for best pop vocal performance and a couple of technical kudos), Sting would be pumped up and ready to deliver the show of a lifetime. But at the Paramount Wednesday, Sting showed the awards mean little except expected increases in disc sales and have nothing to do with the reality of performance.
Just last June, the King of Pain ripped the Paramount apart with a drop-dead concert that had the fans on their feet most of the show. They loved every breath he took. Don't get me wrong, on Wednesday Sting didn't stink. He was OK but OK is a big fall down the stairs from what the public has come to expect from the former Police chief.
Maybe because the program was new at last year's show ('Ten Summoner's Tales' had been released a couple of months earlier), but then he seemed Into the music, as if he actually wanted to be with the fans just to show them how much an accomplishment the new material was. This time around the fans were obviously into the show, but Sting's ambivalence was also obvious.
By the end of the show a mutual passion between star and fans had ignited (you could tell because the audience was on its feet moving to the music), but It happened way too late for such a short program.
Complicating matters, Sting had absolutely nothing to say to the crowd until the final ''thank you, God bless.'' By comparison last time around he was down-right chatty, joking with his band and the fans. At this outing he sang, he played his bass and I yawned.
I like the new album very much. I even like Sting, but It's time for him to recharge his stage-show batteries and mix up the program. Wednesday's show was almost a carbon copy of last year's concert. It even Included the same cover of The Beatles' 'A Day In the Life'.
Then as at this week's show, the Police songs were always the most arresting with the crowd. 'Roxanne', 'Every little Thing She Does In Magic', 'Every Breath You Take' thrilled them.
But Sting and his three-piece band (featuring keyboardist David Sancious) were at their best in the 'Ten Summoner's Tale' material, especially the rock/jazz fusions like 'Saint Augustine In Hell', 'She's Too Good for Me' and the Grammy-winning song 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'. Sanclous' keyboard solo on 'Saint Augustine' was easily the evening's musical zenith and got the instant jazz reward of mid-song applause.
Sting's work as a bassist has always been overshadowed by his vocals, even though he is a player. It would be Interesting to hear him extend himself as an instrumentalist in concert, maybe even dabbling with a fretless electric bass on songs such as 'It's Probably Me'.
Sting remains a cyclic artist whose career has plenty of peaks and valleys. In spite of riding the crest of the Grammy wave, he seems to be In a performance rut and in need of a rest.
(c) The New York Post by Dan Aquitalane