An hour into Sting's show at American Airlines Center on Sunday, he was enjoying complete command over a healthy crowd during a jammy rendition of "Roxanne."
"I must have sang that song about a million times in my life," the 63-year-old legend told the audience, mid-tune. "But every time, I find something different… something that keeps it interesting."
The same can be said of Sting's concerts in general. He's such a seasoned and skilled live performer that every experience feels special - even when it's part of a corporate-sponsored event tied to a college football game.
The headliner kept the crowd standing and participating during the second night of AT&T's Playoff Playlist Live! series. He delved relatively deeply into the soul-soothing global styles of his days fronting the Police.
We're talking "So Lonely," "King of Pain," "Message in a Bottle," "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da" and "Every Breath You Take," to name a handful. The flow and pacing were seamless — most folks bounced to reggae beats for half the show and sang along for the other half.
Backed by his longtime band including stellar guitarist Dominic Miller, Sting seemed giddy to be back in his regular rock-god mode. You see, he's been living a breakneck life as a Broadway star of late, stepping into the lead role of The Last Ship, a musical for which he wrote the score and songs. That explains why he was rocking a burly beard. We've never seen the guy so unkempt.
"I'm in a play, so I had to grow it," he proclaimed early on, before performing the gorgeous "Fields of Gold."
"Just so you know, it's Sting, OK?"
But there was never a question as to whom we were watching. Those high, sustained notes and smoldering choruses are unmistakable. The man can get a crowd singing along at full voice with a simple come-hither motion.
Near the end of that "Roxanne" jam, before returning to the "put on your red light" refrain, Sting looked out at the audience and said, "The interesting thing tonight is that we have no idea where we are going right now." It was then that we realized we were finally privy to something unrehearsed and spontaneous in the middle of a carefully orchestrated sports weekend. What a relief it was.
Indeed, Sunday night's Playoff Playlist Live! show progressed more smoothly and pleasurably than Saturday's edition. The single opening act for Sting, California indie pop band Echosmith, played for an appreciative early crowd and didn't suffer the same apathy as Saturday's warmups.
Echosmith is made up of the four Sierota siblings, ranging in age from 15 (drummer Graham) to 21 (guitarist Jamie). The 17-year-old singer and only sister, Sydney, acted as spokeswoman for the group, leading her bros through songs from their 2013 album Talking Dreams as well as a bright and poppy cover of the Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place."
Everyone knew the catchy outsider's anthem "Cool Kids" from hearing it the radio, but their lesser known material offered equally appealing arrangements and hooks.
Sydney shined as a vocalist, achieving the angst and emotion of pop peers such as Lorde and Ellie Goulding. Echosmith, while it's got some growing and tightening to do as band, has a solid foundation. It'll be interesting to see where it goes from here. We hope for their sake that they're more Hanson than Jonas.
(c) Dallas Morning News by Hunter Haulk