SHOW REVIEW

Sting at Cal Expo Amphitheatre...

I was thrilled when I heard Sting would be touring since I've never had a chance to see him perform before. I first got tickets to the Sacramento concert through VH-1 Music Channel; they were selling seats before they went on sale to the public.

My first concert was at the Cal Expo Amphitheatre in Sacramento and it was a very hot day with temperatures of over 100 degrees. A band called 'Geggy Tah' opened with three members using a variety of instruments and they reminded me somewhat of the Police. They played a lively opening and were well received by the audience.

Sting took the stage at 9pm with 'Hounds Of Winter' which led into 'Hung My Head' and then went on to play 'I Was Brought To My Senses', 'Set Them Free', 'Every Little Thing...' 'Seven Days' and 'You Still Touch Me'.

He then stopped and explained to the audience that this was the part of the show he was looking forward to. He then asked a lady in the crowd to come up on stage and sing 'I'm So Happy...' with him and she didn't do too badly. When that was over with he went on to play 'Fields Of Gold', 'Synchronicity II' and 'Roxanne' with an excellent reggae break midway, complimented by some great slide trombone from the horn section. From there they played 'Bring On the Night/'When The World Is...' and a rocking version of 'Demolition Man', He finished off the first part of the set with 'Englishman In New York' in which the saxophonist had a rap in the middle of the song.

Sting came back out with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith...' 'Every Breath You Take', and 'Lithium Sunset', and last but not least he played 'Fragile' to end the night. This was the standard set he used for all the other concerts I attended.

For my second concert Sting played the Reno Hilton Amp. on Wednesday 14 August in Reno. It was perfect weather for a great night of music. Again 'Geggy Tah' opened, as they did for the other two show I attended. The highlight of this night was guest appearances by comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal who were in Nevada filming. It was they who assisted Sting with 'I'm So Happy...' and this had the audience going crazy! During the concert Sting joked about not playing many hotels and said: ''I hear if I play well tonight, next time they'll let me play the lounge!'' Sting was really on, he sounded great.

Shoreline Amp. on 16 August in Mountain View, Ca. was located in the Bay Area. It was a cool night but I was back on the green. Fortunately there were huge screens to assist those of us back in the crowd. It was another great concert but there were no exciting incidents that night.

My fourth concert was Concord Pavilion on 7 August. I actually arrived before anyone was playing and had a great seat which was amazing as I only bought the ticket about a month before. A lady I had sat next to earlier had one spare and luckily for me nobody else was ahead of me. This night 'Geggy Tah' made their entrance by walking through the crowd playing drums and one extremely long horn! When they finally reached the stage Dominic Miller joined them for one song in which he just sat in a rocking chair for 'Peace Love In A Rocking Chair.'

During another great set Sting announced that it was the first time he was in Concord ... but the crowd was quick to correct him. Some coming back to him that he had indeed played there in 1986 and others said 1991. Anyway, later in the show Sting said it was coming back to him that he had indeed played there in 1986 and apologised saying that he was getting old and his memory was going!

Later he pulled some guy named R.J. out of the audience for a chorus of 'I'm So Happy...' Sting told him to just sing the chorus but R.J. wanted to sing the whole song with Sting - so they did. R.J. was so persistent in singing that finally Sting just backed off for a few verses and let him go solo. The crowd loved it and we gave RJ. a standing ovation.

They were all great concerts and I'd like to thank STING and the rest of the band. I would like also like to thank OUTLANDOS for keeping me informed of all STING's news.

(c) Eric Sackett for Outlandos/Sting.com



Sting a seasoned professional...

Gordon ''Sting'' Sumner brought his blend of Police tunes and new music to the Cal Expo Amphitheatre on Tuesday. Somebody call the Police. There's a guy out here singing their songs, and he must be stopped. Oh, never mind.

It's Sting, and I guess he's just copping to his past, but he really ought to leave it alone. With Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, Gordon ''Sting'' Sumner made some of rock's most innovative music, genre-bending/blending bits of pop genius. And when those songs cropped up in concert Tuesday night at the Cal Expo Amphitheatre, they really sparked the crowd.

It was what Sting did to the tunes - and what they did to the rest of the show - that was the problem. For much of his solo career, Sting has taken a jazzy route, and that's been fine. The structure, the instrumentation, the inclination to let solid musicians stretch out and explore a tune - all that is great. But, jeez, there's a lot to be said for tight, concise playing, too.

On 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around', the song was as convoluted as the title. Yes, that was a nice, jazzy keyboard break in the middle, but what it took to get there! The tune started with a truly irritating intro that went round and round until it finally decided to become a song. You've got to think Andy and Stew would have reined Sting in here.

Which may be why they're not around anymore. Sting is definitely in charge, and he has a legitimate claim to the Police's songs (after all, he wrote them) and to play them any way he pleases. But longer and more complex is not necessarily better. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' got a fine, straightforward reading, and 'Demolition Man' was pumping with energy. 'Roxanne' was good, too, with some excellent slide trombone that gave a red-light district feel to the music, but it wasn't really better than the original, only different.

And 'Every Breath You Take', with those sweet little horn flourishes... now, that was a crime. There was no edge to it - and this is a stalker song.

This is not to say the show wasn't often enjoyable, for it was. Sting is a seasoned professional, but the concert was obviously given by an artist who has reached the point in his career where he can do what he wants, and the performance was as much for himself as for the audience.

Indulgent? A little. The newer material, though somewhat less warmly received, actually fared better. The opening trio of tunes, 'Hounds of Winter', 'I Hung My Head' and 'I Was Brought to My Senses' (all from Sting's most recent album, 'Mercury Falling'), were excellent examples of songwriting. They were descriptive, lyrical and personal, and they were delivered simply.

'Fields of Gold', a little later in the set, shimmered with the sparest of musical accompaniment. Likewise, 'Fragile' and 'Englishman in New York', both from the 'Nothing Like the Sun' album, were standouts, the former for its startling simplicity, the latter for its elegance.

Keyboardist Kenny Kirkland performed admirably all evening. Sting rightly singled him out after his solo in the generally unfocused 'World Is Running Down' and pointedly didn't credit guitarist Dominic Miller for his bit in the same song. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta completed the band, which also recorded the album. Two horn players augmented the quartet.

Geggy Tah, a three-piece band, opened the show with an interesting but ultimately unsatisfying set. The band's tunes ranged from fierce jazz and early Mothers of Invention-sounding songs to one song with a piano passage straight out of the Doors' 'Riders on the Storm' and another ('Las Vegas With the Lights Out') that had a funky bass slapping through it that was kind of Medium Hot Chili Peppers.

Overall, it was too many influences, not enough discipline. Not unlike a good part of Sting's set that followed. Discipline. Direction. Somebody needs to lay down the law.

(c) The Sacramento Bee by Jim Carnest

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