Thank you Sting for being everything we wanted you to be as you closed out the first Friday of Jazz Fest 2018 on the Acura stage. Thank you for keeping those biceps bulging and those abs flat beneath that elegant existential gray T-shirt, despite having reached 66 years of age.
Thanks for keeping those cold, contemplative blue eyes clear and for still fitting in charcoal-colored skinny jeans. And thanks for letting a little silver show through at the temples, under the perennially disheveled blond hair.
Thirty-five years may have passed since you were a serious young Brit with a stratospheric voice and a knack for cerebral lyrics that became an MTV megastar, but you carried us from the Trump era back to the Reagan years on Friday afternoon with cool, unpretentious aplomb.
The loping melody of "Spirits in The Material World" the jazzy lilt of "Englishman in New York," the sinister serpentine groove of "Every Breath You Take," and the chop, chop, chop cadence of "Roxanne" sent shivers of happy recognition through thousands of nervous systems across the northern Fair Grounds. Your top notes may not be as piercing as they once were. But who among us is as high-pitched as we once were?
We thank you, Sting, for not taking your stardom for granted. Folks who showed up at the Fest early on Friday were impressed by your meticulous, lengthy soundcheck. You and your band, with vocal backing by The Last Bandeleros, were as crisp as the spring air. Your muscular fingers still hopscotch the neck of your well-worn bass with utter precision.
The woman from the Netherlands standing in the midst of the polite, largely smoke-free crowd commented that it may be your devotion to yoga that has kept the years at bay (those of us who spend part of lives torturing ourselves atop sticky mats certainly hope she is correct). You've helped us keep the faith, Sting. Based on your relaxed yet intense demeanor, you seem to have somehow kept your head in a world made for Max Headroom.
The best part of the concert was just before the end. Sting and company had distilled Roxanne to a simple rhythmic groove. Then he unexpectedly added a few melancholy choruses of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," as the sun crept toward the horizon over New Orleans East, splashing the audience with golden light. Thanks again, Sting.
(c) The Times-Picayune by Doug MacCash