Feb
23
1988

Lafayette, LA, US (Elliot Hall of Music, Purdue University)

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SHOW REVIEW

Sting's solos dominate PU Concert...

Opening with a rendition of 'Lazarus Heart' and closing the show with 'Message In A Bottle', Sting's energy kept the room temperature at a consistent simmer at the Elliott Hall of Music Tuesday night. Occasionally it boiled, but it was never tepid.

Lasting nearly three hours, the concert featured over 20 songs - each one given extended play. Although recent material from his two solo efforts clearly dominated the song list, Sting dusted off his Police badge a couple times just to give the crowd something more familiar to sing along to. Sting, typically portrayed in print - be it magazines or lyric sheets and television - as aridly serious and probably boring, proved to be neither on stage.

Instead, he maintained a light-hearted, self-effacing posture. Consciously aware of his inability to dance, Sting limited himself to prancing up and down the six-tiered set, jogging in place and goose-stepping. But it was unanimous. No one on stage could dance. No one in the audience seemed to care.

Both keyboardist Kenny Kirkland and saxophone player Branford Marsalis got enough spotlight solos to get a sunburn, occasionally outshining the central figure, who seemed more than willing to share audience attention. Marsalis appeared to be weary, somewhat shy of the crowd and reluctant to prance around the stage, despite prompting from Sting.

Stating his favourite American programming is TV evangelism, Sting made two references to the arrestingly photogenic Jimmy Swaggart. Introducing the Police standard 'Murder by Numbers', Sting said, ''Jimmy Swaggart claimed this next song was written by Satan. He should know.'' Reclaiming the stage for his first encore, Sting asked the audience for requests. 'Roxanne'. Claiming he sings the song every night of his life, he said ''just give me one night off. Even Jimmy Swaggart had a night off.''

Perhaps sluggish from the barrage of encore requests, fewer band members took to the stage each time Sting was beckoned back for another round. By the third encore, the crowd replaced the tardy back-up band and fleshed out Sting's acoustic 'Message In A Bottle' by joining in on the choruses. Near the end of the song, band members reappeared to assist the crowd, joining in on vocal duties. Apparently, backstage Elliott Hall has ample changing room. Each of the band members returned for their final appearance, without instruments, in street clothing. Even Marsalis traded in his suit for track pants, jersey, and ski-cap.

Frequently approaching the rim of the stage, Sting punctuated his performance by shaking hands with crowd members. Two ticket holders responded by leaping onto the stage, hugging the 36-year-old singer and meeting security personnel. Taking requests for encore songs, Sting informed a member of the audience that 'You Give Love a Bad Name' was indeed a Bon Jovi song. Asked to do 'Material Girl', Sting lowered his suspenders from his shoulders in parody of Madonna's bra routine.

The crowd, failing to rush the stage even once, behaved almost embarrassingly well. The audience, which ignored the chairs, kept to their feet and staged what was either an ill-fated attempt at a mass sit-down or an extremely slow wave.

(c) The Purdue University Exponent by Ryan Konig

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