Sting: My Songs Tour

Manila, PH
The Theatre at Solaire

Every little thing Sting does is magic...

While dressed rather austerely in a gray shirt and a pair of form-fitting jeans, Sting still cut an imperious figure onstage.

His natural charm and commanding presence meant that every little thing he did was enough to make the fans lose it - a thumbs up here, a wave of the arm there. And he had yet to sing or play a single note.

Up until Sting’s entrance, the well-heeled audience at the Manila stop of the “My Songs” tour spoke in whispers and hushed tones. But the opening strains of “Message in a Bottle” proved irresistible, seemingly flicking on a proverbial switch that had everyone cheering in anticipation. When the spotlight was trained on him, Sting beckoned to the fans. A number of them promptly stood up and started dancing.

With an easy swagger, Sting launched onto “Englishman in New York,” which had everyone clapping in unison with the song’s unmistakable percussive beats and instrumentation.

In “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” Sting - with his strappingly gruff vocals - bellowed “Magic! Magic! Magic!” as the song came to a crescendo. He broke into a smile upon hearing the people’s applause, and then it was business as usual, plucking and strapping the strings of his bass guitar.

“I feel delighted to be here in Manila for the fourth time,” the 71-year-old music icon said at The Theatre Solaire.

In one of the show’s gentler moments, Sting sat on a stool and played a number of songs from his latest album, “The Bridge.” including the breezy and whistling “If It’s Love,” the anthemic “Rushing Water” and the standout “Loving You,” a brooding song delivered in a sing-talk manner.

Sting held the audience enraptured for close to two hours. Combining well-loved songs from his solo catalog and classics from his former rock band The Police, the night’s setlist was a showcase of the British artist’s musical craftsmanship, of his ability to create immersive soundscapes where jazz, rock, reggae, classical and world music seamlessly mesh.

There was the alluring ballad “Fields of Gold;” the optimistic, harmonica-laden “Brand New Day;” and the haunting R&B lite jam “Shape of My Heart,” which had backup singer Gene Noble linking curlicues of soulful, kilometric runs. “You didn’t miss much!” Sting teased a latecomer rushing toward his seat in front.

In “Heavy Cloud No Rain,” a curious mash of funk and rock, Sting engaged Melissa Musique in a musical sparring of sorts - his bass versus the backup singer’s bombastic voice that she wielded like an electric guitar. Sting chanted to the cadence of the crowd’s rhythmic clapping in “Desert Rose,” a ballad of longing swathed in sensuous Arabic motifs.

“What Could Have Been,” from the soundtrack of the animated series “Arcane League of Legends,” was a sweeping dramatic ballad that highlighted Sting’s feel for storytelling; his vocal delivery intensifying and mellowing with the ebbing and flowing of the string instrumentation.

With seemingly unwavering vocal stamina, Sting soldiered on to the final stretch of the concert - mounted by Live Nation Philippines - performing one Police hit after another.

By the time “Every Breath You Take” blared from the speakers, the entire crowd was up on its feet, singing along and letting loose.

For the encore, Sting asked the audience: “What should I do next?” It was “Roxanne.” And it sent diehard fans scurrying toward the stage to see their idol up close. Some even asked for selfies, and lucky them, he gamely obliged.

Sting could have ended the show on that rousing note. But he chose to close it with “Fragile,” an introspective ballad that offers a sobering look at the futility of violence.

“Let’s have something quiet and thoughtful to end the night,” he said. “You’re a beautiful audience. And we will see you again.”

(c) Philippine Daily Inquirer by Allan Policarpio