Sting brought his "57th and 9th" tour to the shed at Tanglewood on Tuesday night, performing a two-hour, double-encore set of hits from both his work with The Police and his solo career.
It was a chilly night in the Berkshires, but the veteran performer was comfortable under the lights, taking off his jacket the moment he set foot on stage to introduce the show with an acoustic rendition of "Heading South on the Great North Road," from the new album.
The song also served as an introduction to Joe Sumner, son of Sting, who harmonized with his father on the chorus. It was a soft opening, as Sting handed off the spotlight to his son who offered a quick set of originals, including "Two Sisters" from his work with the band Fiction Plane.
Sumner sounds like enough like his father to front a Police tribute, but is stylistically a true original.
Sumner stayed on to sing backup when Sting returned to open his set with "Synchronicity II." In fact, it was a communal stage of sorts with opening act The Last Bandoleros also lined up at backing vocals, pitching in with harmonies and hand claps.
Sting's set was nothing short of brilliant as he deftly placed a sampling of new songs with an unrivaled catalog of ubiquitous sounds that bookmarked the better part of three decades.
The wall of sound provided by the cadre of singers and his backing group of Dominic Miller (guitar), Russ Miller (guitar), and Josh Freese (drums) perfectly anchored songs like "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," and "Spirits in the Material World."
The familiar reggae-rock and ska of The Police could be heard on "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," and the bassist / singer hit an extended closing note on "Mad About You."
He slowed the pace for "Fields of Gold," and turned the band into a head-banging rock outfit with new song "Petrol Head."
Sting, ever the proper Englishman, made his only political statement of the night by paraphrasing poet William Blake while alluding to the current state of American affairs.
"A man who persists in his folly will become wise," he said. "One day, we will all wake up and be a lost wiser than we are today."
He then offered "One Fine Day."
After "Message in a Bottle," Sting turned the microphone over to his son once again who took the lead on David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes."
Sting closed the set with the signature "Roxanne" and the three-song encore included "Every Breath You Take."
The rock star returned for a second encore, offering a quiet take on "Fragile," and dedicated it to the people of Houston.
It was a breakout performance for The Last Bandoleros, not only with their backing of Sting, but with a stunning opening set that may have heralded the return of Tejano / Tex-Mex to the pop music lexicon. The band melded Beatle-esque melodies with country and soul to earn a standing ovation from the Tanglewood crowd.
(c) The Republican by Donnie Moorhouse