It's back to basics for Sting's Back to Bass tour in Atlanta...
Sting played two hours of great music to a full house at Chastain Park Amphitheatre on Monday night during his Atlanta stop for his Back to Bass tour. He played hits from his solo career and from his days as the lead singer for The Police in a set that was remarkable for its focus on the music rather than providing an audio-visual extravaganza.
Storms that came through Atlanta early in the day took some of the heat out of the evening making it a wonderful evening fort an outdoor concert. With no support act many in the crowd were left scrambling for their seats as Sting came on and started in front of a two-thirds full venue.
What you notice immediately when Sting comes on stage is just how in shape he is. Given the audience was comprised of many who remember the songs when they were first released, it is readily apparent that middle age has been kinder to him than to many of us in the audience.
What you also notice is that his voice has lost none of its distinctiveness, strength and resonance. Each note is hit and held just as powerfully as it was when he and the Police first burst on to the scene in 1979.
Given both these facts it's clear that Sting can go back to basics with a stripped down stage. He doesn't need anything artificial to distract or detract from the music he and his band are playing. The stage was reduced to a plain black backdrop allowing the emphasis to be on the musicianship of he and his five-piece band.
The set lasted two hours and included most of the songs die-hard fans would have wanted to hear. It was also pretty evenly split between his solo work and Police music.
The five-piece band included David Sancious on keyboards, Dominic Miller on guitar, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Peter Tickell on violin and Jo Lawry on background vocals and each was given ample opportunity to demonstrate their skills.
'Love Is Stronger Than Justice' started out with a blue lit stage punctuated by just two white spotlights turned on David Sancious and his keyboards to start the piece; then Peter Tickell on his violin played a dueling duet with Sting back and forth across the stage. After that the song turned into a jam session with everyone getting their opportunity.
There was also ample opportunity in other songs too; Vinnie Colaiuta and Jo Lawry were great on 'Hounds of Winter' and Dominic Miller, on guitar, had several opportunities but most notable was his solo on 'Shape Of My Heart' while Peter Tickell played like a man possessed on 'Driven To Tears'.
Three songs were the highlights for me. I've always like the north African influence and sound at the start and permeating through 'Desert Rose' and played live it was mesmerizing; a great start to the encore. Sting finished the encore with 'Fragile', something that Sting suggested was “quiet, peaceful and thoughtful”. It wasn’t a fast-paced, crescendo of an ending but it left a great impression.
But for me the highlight of the show was 'Roxanne'. I’ve always loved 'Roxanne' and I always will! The version of the song on this tour is true brilliance. It starts out faithful to the original version but in the middle it turns into a much jazzier version offering opportunities to take the musical theme and change it just a little before returning to the original. Great stuff and much better here than it was on the Police tour a few years ago!
Sting and his music probably classifies as classic rock now but the nature of the music and the way its presented means the concert retains a vigor and freshness that would challenge any of today’s up and coming musicians, many of whom rely on heavy studio production to create their sound. The back to basics approach of the Back to Bass tour worked great for the entire night.
(c) Examiner by Andrew Snook