Blue Turtles

Salt Lake City, UT, US
Park West
Don't call the 'Police'; Sting's doing just fine as a solo act...

It was billed as ''An Evening with Sting,'' and when it was all said and done, most in the Park West crowd were admittedly dazzled, stung if you will, with the musician's sophisticated brand of jazz-rock.

Gordon Sumner, better known to Utah music fans as the incomparable Sting, co-founder and creative genius of the supergroup The Police, has been touring the West lately, taking his act solo.

And considering the recent solo projects by Police guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland, you might think The Police have gone on eternal strike. It was certainly clear from Sting's ParkWest performance that he certainly doesn't need Summers and Copeland to make it big in contemporary music.

The fact of the matter, says Sting, is the members of The Police use solo projects to grow musically. "When we come back together, I'm sure that it will be better than ever," he said.

In fact, Sting made it obvious throughout Monday's show he wasn't about to invade any of the established territory of The Police. Much to the chagrin of hard-core Police fans, Sting limited his forays into Police material ie an a cappella version, complete with 8,000 backing vocals, of the hit 'Roxanne'.

Sting is Sting, not The Police: and Monday night he was clearly out to establish himself with his own material. The musical styles were the same, the rich musical textures were the same even Sting vocals had that same distinctive quality.

But the music was inexplicably different.

For his solo tour, Sting has surrounded himself with some of the best jazz musicians money can buy Branford Marsalis, Darryl Jones, Kenny Kirkland and Omar Hakim. Little doubt the music had a much heavier jazz flavour.

With the wind blowing and rain clouds threatening, Sting opened his show with the appropriately titled 'Shadows In The Rain' a song that combined traditional jazz sounds with Sting's trademark mystical rock.

It also set the pace for an entire evening of 'The Dream Of The Blue Turtles', Sting's critically acclaimed solo LP. If you like the album, you would have loved the concert.

For the most part, Sting kept to subtle, soothing tunes, songs like 'Children's Crusade' and 'We Work The Black Seam', an excellent song about coal miners. For variety, he would throw in a reggae number like 'Love Is The Seventh Wave' and traditional Police-sounding tunes like 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and 'Fortress Around Your Heart'.

In each and every case, Sting proved he is first and foremost an artist. His lyrics ate thought-provoking, his music multi-layered and captivating. It didn't seem to matter if he was playing a full-sized bass, an electric guitar or a synthesiser, he proved he was master of his craft.

He is also a musician who clearly takes his work seriously. It shows on the concert stage as he carefully weaves myriads of intricate sounds into tunes that excite the mind and spirit. The performance was much, much more than a simple audio experience.

Sting may not have been playing Police tunes, the crowd didn't seem to mind much. They were there for Sting.

Personally, I prefer Sting playing alongside Copeland and Summers. But I couldn't help but admire the way Sting has taken command of his own musical destiny. He displays a remarkable ability to reach out and touch your conscious with sounds that are rich and fulfilling.

Sting should leave the movies to actors. He's doing just great on the concert stage.

(c) Deseret News by Jerry Spangler