SHOW REVIEW

Sting Wows 'em in West Palm Beach...

Sting's 'Mercury Falling' tour was welcomed by 20,000 eager Stingfans Friday at its first North American stop.

The sell-out crowd braved a rainy evening and wet grounds at the Coral Sky Amphitheater to hear the singer-bassist who vaulted to fame in the late '70s with the trio the Police.

Sting performed classic hits from those days such as 'Roxanne', and 'Synchronicity II' as well as some of his solo work, including tunes from his latest album: 'Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot' and 'I Was Brought To My Senses'.

A highlight of Sting's one hour 45 minute performance was a lengthy, rocking version of 'When The World Is Running Down' featuring a stunning solo by pianist Kenny Kirkland.

After a post-concert fireworks display, Laura Lieberman of Fort Lauderdale lingered on the damp grass. He stopped too soon, she said.

Opening the evening were singer-guitarist Soraya, whose album 'On Nights Like This' is climbing Billboard's Latin chart, and Natalie Merchant, formerly of 10,000 Maniacs.

Sting will be touring the United States and Canada through late August.

(c) Naples Daily News



Sting draws 20,000 at concert...

The Sting faithful flocked to catch the pop star's first American stop on his summer concert tour.

Playing to a gathering of 20,000 Friday night at the Coral Sky Amphitheater, Sting had something for everybody.

'Environment. Family. The earth. Where we live, what we're doing, and why we're doing it. Pay attention, we won't be around long,' said fan Kirk Wagner, 34. 'He tells a story that he's lived.'

Sting, 44, said very little, although he did tell those sitting on the soggy lawn he really appreciated the turnout at the outdoor venue, despite recent downpours.

Some wouldn't have dreamed of missing it, regardless of the weather.

'He's still gorgeous,' said Janine Liever, 37. 'He's a very sexy, romantic man. That's part of his attraction.'

Sting played a mix of new music and older songs, including selections from his days with the Police. Naturally, the crowd had its self-appointed critics.

'I like the Police, I like his original stuff,' said Richard Moss, 27, an Englishman living in Boca Raton who is reluctant to buy Sting's latest recording 'Mercury Falling'.

'I think he's going through a transition,' Moss said.

(c) The Associated Press



Sting towers, Merchant flowers: Big night at Coral Sky...

Pop superstar Sting gave 20,000 people something to scream about as he began his U.S. tour at Coral Sky Amphitheatre Friday night.

The crowd was treated to a 3 1/2-hour concert with all the trimmings - and the extra gift of heavy clouds but no rain.

Opening the show with a four-song set was local act Soraya, who entranced the audience with poetic vocals and a soft guitar.

Next up, Natalie Merchant strutted out sporting pigtails and a pink minidress. She opened with San Andreas Fault from her 'Tigerlily' album, followed by Wonder, which flowed perfectly into the 10,000 Maniacs song, 'Don't Talk'.

Merchant, a former member of the 10,000 Maniacs, broke from the band in 1993. 'Tigerlily', her debut album, has given her three hits.

Crowd favourites in her eight-song set included 'These Are Days'.

Merchant's sound was clear and sultry. But the size of the amphitheatre was a bit much for her no-frills style and sound.

Despite that - and the fact that she was fighting ''the worst cold of my life'' - Merchant gave the crowd a solid 50 minutes of music.

Sting strode out in a tight red shirt and black leather pants.

Bass guitar and audience well in hand, he burst into Hounds of Winter off his new album, 'Mercury Falling'. Backed by a five-piece band complete with horn section, Sting entranced with a powerful mix of material, both old and new.

Through his work with the rock band, The Police, and succeeding solo albums, Sting has earned eight Grammy awards. His music encompasses jazz, blues, rock, pop and alternative, resulting in a wide variety of fans.

Every song Sting played - from the ethereal 'Fields of Gold' to the bouncy 'I'm So Happy That I Can't Stop Crying', to the energetic rocker, 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' - had some part of the audience singing along.

Although flashier in his use of lights, stage props and backdrops, Sting was decidedly less energetic than Merchant. But with their rock 'n' roll hero in front of them no one seemed to notice.

The Police's 'Synchronicity' and 'Roxanne' got the crowd jumping and screaming. And 'Fragile', from Sting's third album, 'Nothing Like the Sun', was the perfect closer.

(c) Palm Beach Post by Byron Rivers



Veteran song stylist effectively combines various styles...

Amid a summer of tours by aging rockers reselling chestnuts from the 1960s and '70s, it's refreshing to see and hear two pop stylists in their prime.

And that, for the most part, is what a sellout crowd of about 20,000 got on Friday night as Sting and Natalie Merchant performed at Coral Sky Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach - a night that ended, appropriately enough, with fireworks.

Coral Sky was Sting's first stop on his summer tour to promote 'Mercury Falling', the latest in a string of more than six jazz-influenced releases he has made since parting with the Police in the mid-1980s to launch a highly successful solo career. Much as he does on his albums, Sting seemed to mix and match musical genres effortlessly throughout a more than 90-minute set of nearly 20 songs.

It opened with the title track from 'Mercury Falling' and ended with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' and 'Every Breath You Take', the latter from his Police days.

While the majority of the songs were from Sting's solo releases, he included a generous helping of Police hits. Backed by Dominic Miller on guitar, Kenny Kirkland on keyboards and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums - the same core of musicians he's worked with over the past few years - Sting showed why he has firmly established himself as one of the most interesting and compelling songwriters on the pop scene.

A former schoolteacher from Newcastle, England, the 44-year-old father of six - born Gordon Matthew Sumner but known as Sting ever since he began wearing a yellow-and-black soccer jersey as a young musician - has been accused of being a bit pretentious. He was anything but that on Friday night, at one point expressing awe at the rains of earlier in the day, and thanking the audience for coming out anyway.

Sting followed a 50-minute, 10-song set by Natalie Merchant, who recently released her first solo album, 'Tigerlily', after a more than 13-year career with 10,000 Maniacs.

Known for her whirling dervish style of dancing, Merchant, 32, served up a spirited, at times haunting array of tunes, though she apologized to the crowd for having a very bad head cold. Most of the songs came from 'Tigerlily', though a Latin-tinged, salsa-infused version of 'These Are Days' from 10,000 Maniacs' 'Our Time in Eden' release was her best.

Merchant was backed primarily by a three-piece band, featuring the often-brilliant guitar work of Jennifer Turner and a rhythm section composed of Barrie Maguire on bass and Peter Yanowitz on drums. Soraya, a singer and songwriter, raised in Colombia and the United States, considered to be among a number of up-and-coming bilingual Latin singers, opened the show with a 20-minute set.

(c) The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel by Robert McCabe



As Sting launches tour, much material is new but the technique isn't...

Since leaving The Police after 1983's 'Synchronicity', Sting has become such a polite Adult Contemporary artist he's not about to do anything too jarring or stray too far from studiously re-creating versions of solo album cuts when he performs live.

So if an edgy, reggae-tinged number like 'Roxanne', The Police's old song about a prostitute, seems an anomaly among his current crop of tuneful pop-jazz nuggets, not to worry. Sting's proficient five-piece band will add a classy horn section and buff it just so until it fits with the program.

Such was the case with Sting's concert Friday night at the Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. The show was the kickoff performance on his North American 'Mercury Falling' Tour, and he brought along guests Natalie Merchant and South Florida's Soraya to bolster the bill.

As is his custom in concert, Sting presented way too much of his latest album, in this case, 'Mercury Falling', methodically and back-to-back. There was an efficient, if slightly rote, feel to the way he moved through the opening 'The Hounds of Winter', 'I Hung My Head' and the leisurely 'I Was Brought to My Senses'.

It would be five songs into his set before he delivered the familiar 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and fans finally stopped chattering to hear the danceable tune. A man of few words - he seems to use them all up in his literary-heavy songs - Sting finally addressed his audience, making reference to the tri-county torrential storms that soaked people on the drive to the partially open-air amphitheater (by Sting's set the clouds parted and a quarter moon shone, almost as if a prop).

''I'm from England and I thought I've seen rain,'' Sting joked. ''This song is about South Florida weather - all four seasons at once.'' He then moved from yet another new song (All Four Seasons) right on through his almost two-hour set, rarely deviating from the script.

When he did take some risks his show proved extremely entertaining. He recharged 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around' into a furious jam with Kenny Kirkland's jazzy piano fills and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta's aggressive backbeat. Saxophonist Butch Thomas set aside his instrument to insert a fresh, mid-song rap into the regal 'Englishman in New York', and the devilishly obsessive 'Mad About You' achieved a majestic aura.

Sting leads a tight, crafty band and Coral Sky's pristine sound system showed them off to good advantage. (Were it not for a woefully archaic parking system that had concertgoers backed up in the lots for more than an hour trying to get out - shades of the old Hollywood Sportatorium days - the gleaming Coral Sky would be a pretty near perfect concert site.)

Natalie Merchant, who is the commercial draw on the bill thanks to the success of her subdued 'Tigerlily' solo album, struggled with ''the worst head cold of my life,'' yet her ailment wasn't readily apparent in her vocals, which sounded solid, save a bum note here or there.

Still, she seemed lost in the large venue, and her 50-minute set lacked the intimacy of her stunning Sunrise show last year. Her musicians meandered, turning the closing 'City of Angels' into a somewhat tedious dirge. Yet Merchant, though less animated than in the past, remains an intriguingly Bohemian presence in her pigtails and simple pink dress. Her moves are graceful, her melodies - particularly 'San Andreas Fault' and 'Wonder' - resonate.

Newcomer Soraya had the thankless task of opening the stacked bill while some 20,000 people were still milling about. Too bad. She performed acoustically for about 20 minutes, but her bilingual songs are supremely melodic and live her voice seems fuller than on her CD 'On Nights Like This' and its Spanish equivalent 'En Esta Noche'. The talented singer/songwriter could do much more with a full set.

(c) The Miami Herald by Howard Cohen

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