Sting wins big at WinStar with first stop on his latest tour...
For those of you who didn't make the trek to Thackerville, Okla. last night to hear Sting, you missed a good one. It was the second of two concerts at WinStar World Casino this weekend that kicked off his latest tour, not long since the finish of his “Back to Bass Tour” that brought Sting to the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie last November.
This was his first time to perform at WinStar in the Global Event Center, a comfortable venue much like a hotel ballroom. The room seats just under 3,500, with cushy chairs, bars in the back and dry acoustics. It was the perfect place to hear Sting, who was in prime form.
A relaxed Sting strode toward center stage at shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday night. There he stayed for the evening attached to his well-worn electric bass in front a single microphone and his six-member band. They pumped out hit after hit, each sounding as fresh and as full of energy as ever. Fans inside the not-quite packed house off the buzzing casino were waiting and ready to listen.
Sting and his band set the evening's tone with a lively 'All This Time' followed by fan-favorite 'Everything She Does is Magic'. He stopped in between to recount a sound issue that stopped the show at the same point the night before, and to acknowledge both his hosts and the folks who did make the trek north: ''I'm happy to be on the border of Texas and Oklahoma.''
The iconic songwriter from England gave the audience grins when he quipped he'd ''never written one about Thackerville, so I'll have to sing one about New York.'' He launched into a laid-back, comfortable rendition of 'Englishman in New York', but got down and dirty in 'Demolitian Man' with guitarist Dominic Miller, whom Sting called his ''right hand man.'' Literally, he was, and the two played off each other all night long. If Sting was the star, Miller won the title for best supporting role, with tight competition from drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, whom Sting said was arguably ''the greatest drummer on the planet.''
Remembering his geography, Sting mentioned how Oklahoma country star Toby Keith's cover of 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' helped him out at the bank before he launched into 'I Hung My Head', which was covered by the late-great Johnny Cash. 'Driven to Tears' showcased guitar wizard Dominic and gave electric fiddle player Peter Tickell his first spotlight moment. The gentle 'Fields of Gold' gave Miller more chances to sparkle, and keyboardist David Sancious did a nice job of filling the arrangement with synth-string warmth.
The gospel-influenced 'A Sacred Love' merges Sting's self-proclaimed fascination with sex and religion, which he belted out like a fire-and-brimstone preacher. 'The Shape of My Heart', a song he co-wrote with Miller 10 years ago about a professional gambler, gave listeners a chance to hear the consummate musician as supreme storyteller. Here, the ensemble was more intimate and chamber-like, and Sting's vocals were full of musical shadings and nuance.
Sting recounted his ''fascination by cowboys'' and his love for two westerns: The Magnificent Seven and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He combined the plots for 'Love is Stronger than Justice', that starts out light-hearted with a country twang, only to transition into a passionate wild-eyed jazz rendition in 7/8 time with a frenzied solo from Tickell that pushed Sting out of the limelight for a few minutes. The crowd ate it up.
Colaiuta's press roll led the band into 'Mercury Falling' and some of the most interesting music-making of the evening. Jo Lawry's vocals soared high for a musically levitating experience. Miller's guitar effects combined with Sting's experimental, distant vocals led the song to its eerie end. In 'Never Coming Home', Lawry joined Sting in an angry and intense musical and sensual repartee as they shared the microphone inches from each other's mouths. This was a disappointingly shortened version that ended the show just over an hour after it started - until the encores, of course.
Sting bounced back on stage with his fiery, Arabic-inspired 'Desert Rose', which segued into a driving 'King of Pain'. The slightly slower groove of 'Every Breath You Take' took the energy level down a notch, and the show was seemingly over when the the entire band joined Sting for three hand-held bows at the edge of the stage. Sting seemed genuinely appreciative of the audience cheers as bowed to the crowd, and surprised them moments later when played one more - the rousing 'Next to You'.
Fans near the stage chanted, ''Roxanne! Roxanne!'' to no avail. Sting quit while he was ahead, but the fans gave him reason to come back our way soon.
(c) Dallasnews.com by Ellen Sackett