Sting, one of the most recognizable voices in rock and pop music, opened a packed, three-night stay at Wolf Trap National Park on Monday night with a hit parade covering his four-decade career.
The veteran songwriter, musician, actor and original member of The Police was in support of his latest album “My Songs” that offered slightly reimagined, updated versions of some of his most popular tunes.
Backed by a pair of guitarists (Dominic Miller and his son Rufus), a keyboardist (Kevon Webster), two singers (Melissa Musique and Gene Noble) and a harmonica player (Shane Sage), Sting and the potent band delivered for more than 90 minutes slightly fresh takes on 19 songs with a pair of encores.
The 67-year-old was lean, musically mean and in fine vocal form sporting a salt-and-pepper five o’clock shadow and less spikey blondish hair. He was attached to his well-worn, 1957 Fender Precision bass nearly all night.
Sting’s set included his most popular solo efforts from the late 1980s and early 1990s such as ” If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” ” If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” and “Fields of Gold” as well as his more recent collaboration with Shaggy for the 2018 “If You Can’t Find Love,” co-sung forcefully by back up Mr. Noble.
However, the 17-time Grammy Award winner’s most satisfying moments came when he dove into the classic new wave and punk catalog of The Police that encompassed about 50% of his set.
He opened with a feisty “Message in a Bottle” and sprinkled throughout the night staples such as “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take” and “Next to You.”
In “Walking on the Moon,” he squeezed in the reggae-infused Bob Marley classic “Get Up, Stand Up” while “So Lonely” added a lead from Mr. Sage.
The latter as well as many of the songs all night benefitted from Mr. Sage’s harmonica work and should have reminded musical aficionados of Pete Townshend’s solo concerts in the mid-1980s when he added blues harpist Peter Hope Evans.
It’s also worth noting that very few musicians have the power to incite an audience to sing along with the wave of a hand, but Sting did it all night.
The vocal participation on songs such as ” If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” and “Roxanne” was to the point that the crowd was clearly part of the band.
Sting closed the night on a mellow, somber note with what has become his cautionary tale to the human race, “Fragile.” He told the audience that the Amazon was burning, time to mobilize, as the repeated lyric “how fragile we are” pounded home his message.
Opening the evening was Joe Sumner, aka Sting’s son. With help from a drummer, bassist and piano player, the lead-singing guitarist performed cuts from his first solo, yet untitled, upcoming album.
Abandoning his angry young rocker roots, Mr. Sumner’s more melodic Sting-lite songs such as “Juliette” offered soaring vocals that might work well in adult contemporary land while his closing number “Jelly Bean” would fit nicely in “The Wiggles” repertoire.
Concert etiquette 101: As tempting and as enjoyable as it might be to record large swaths of a concert using your cellphone, it’s not so enjoyable for the audience members standing behind you.
Specifically, it’s really annoying to have to look at a large cell phone screen blocking the stage when trying to watch a real, as in real-time, live concert. How about restricting cellphone recording to the first couple of songs and let everyone enjoy the rest of the evening. Food for thought.
(c) The Washington Times by Joseph Szadkowski