'Symphonicity Tour': Sting swings with orchestra - Star reinvents hits
with his 'biggest band'...
Sting's guitarist, Dominic Miller, recently noted that fans have grown up with
their pop-rock hero.
He sure got that right. Check out that cello solo on 'Roxanne'.
But the orchestral 'Symphonicity' tour also suggests that, truth be told, the
58-year-old Sting might have helped his fans age gracefully as well.
Those who once might have filled the upper tier of the MGM Grand Garden may have
been at Steel Panther, or some other arrested-development haven for '80s
cruisers and boozers who feared they would become their parents if they opted
for this upscale gathering. The tour (filmed a couple of weeks ago at Colorado's
Red Rocks amphitheater) will doubtless be a PBS staple for years to come.
And it was kind of odd to see Steven Mercurio, conductor of the Royal
Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, hopping around with more rock-star abandon than
the rock star, who kept a cool reserve.
But no two tours are ever the same for Sting, who introduced the 40-piece
ensemble as ''the biggest band I ever had.''
Loyal fans can only smile as Sting finds more ways to reinvent or deconstruct
the classic hits than they ever thought possible. Friday's show was in the same
MGM Grand Garden arena as the Police reunion of two years ago, and those at
either concert still haven't heard 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' with
the rinky-tink piano that drove the original recording.
What the faithful have learned is to trust Sting's taste. Here, the leap of
faith was that the orchestra was there for a reason, not just replacing keyboard
textures with Summer Pops pomp.
There was a little of that, sure, in 'Fields of Gold' or 'A Thousand Years'. It
was also easy to predict a few songs getting symphonic expansions, such as
'Russians' going full-on Prokofief.
But more of the tunes received ambitious rethinking, creating essential new
versions. The timelier-than-ever vampire lament 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' was a
full-on horror-flick soundtrack, complete with Sting taking a solo on the
theremin, an electronic device that made creepy sci-fi sounds in the
'Tomorrow We'll See' got the muted-trumpet film noir treatment. 'Roxanne', with
that cello solo, was the most romantically brooding version of the old chestnut
And much of the three-hour show in two sets was devoted to giving a second
hearing to rarities and deeper album cuts: an Aaron Copland take on 'The End of
the Game', the cool jazz 'All Would Envy', the 'Cold Mountain' movie track 'You
Will Be My Ain True Love'.
For an artist tottering less toward ''current'' and more toward ''classic,'' it
was a good way to send fans back to their old CDs.
Sting may be running out of reasons to avoid writing new songs, and the
orchestra tour might be a predictable means of mining the catalog one more time
instead of getting back in the batter's box. But there's no denying he did it up
right, taking the whole orchestra on the road instead of contracting in each
The result was an ensemble that was tight, like a band. They swung, too.
'Englishman in New York' and 'Straight to My Heart' had the feel of orchestral
Gershwin and Ellington, if not the Nelson Riddle arrangements for Frank Sinatra.
Yes, Sting finally got the orchestra rocking and people out of their seats for
'King of Pain', and got his own body in gear for 'Desert Rose'. But if fans keep
aging with him until he becomes their retirement version of Ol' Blue Eyes, rest
assured he will wear it well.
(c) Las Vegas Review-Journal by Mike Weatherford