Sting: My Songs Tour

Reno, NV, US
Grand Theatre at The Grand Sierra

Former Policeman Sting captures Reno...

Sting and his band played to a packed house in Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort Sunday night, Oct. 1. During the show, he proclaimed proudly that in England it was Oct. 2, his birthday. The now 72-year-old rockstar, songwriter, bassist, guitarist, vocalist and consummate entertainer is still fit as a fiddle and has the chops to keep going for god-only-knows how long.

He brought with him a fantastic video production team. Immediately in front of the stage were dollies that supported two manned HD cameras that rolled slowly back and forth throughout the show giving movie-like quality to the video screens on either side of the stage. I couldn’t count the number of cameras being used, but there were stationary cameras mounted in multiple locations on the stage and more above, out in the theater.

During “Why Should I Cry For You,” a song he wrote for his “daddy,” the digital imagery created a fantastic, dream-like presentation.

They started the show with “Message in a Bottle” from The Police’s 1979 album “Reggatta de Blanc.” It was a good opener that got most of the room on their feet and into the swing of things right away. They followed with “Englishman in New York,” a song from Sting’s second solo album, released in 1988. It was a thoughtful beginning, sharing hits from both phases of his career.

Knowing where his roots lie, Sting had the set populated with eight Police songs mixed with 14 songs from his solo career.

The band was just fantastic, with his long time collaborator and right hand man, Dominic Miller on guitar. There were two backup singers, Melissa Musique and Gene Noble, who are capable of being stars in their own right—amazing voices.

Shane Sager is a skilled harmonica player who played masterfully throughout the show. Sting playfully challenged his abilities to play Stevie Wonder’s signature part on “Brand New Day,” and he nailed it.

Rounding out the band were keyboardist Kevon Webster from Jamaica, and, on drums, Zach Jones from New York.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Sting a few times going back to the heyday of The Police, and he has become a fine entertainer over the years. Songwriting and musicianship aside, he has become skilled and entertaining at engaging his audience with stories about his songs, their meanings and inspirations—both humorous and heartfelt.

One interesting and light-hearted story was about the inspiration for “Fields of Gold.”

“A nice thing about my house is that it’s surrounded by barley fields, and at harvest time, it looks like there’s a sea of gold all around it,” he said. “One day I was looking out there and said to myself, there’s a song here.”

Having played and toured with Sting since 1991, guitarist Dominic Miller was at the top of his form all night. His rhythm guitar, finger picking and lead guitar soloing are crucial to the overall sound and finished product of these songs. He stood on the left side of the stage, bathed in red light most of the evening, but when his parts were taking center stage, he got the spotlight.

The sound quality and mix were crisp and powerful without being overpowering. The huge lighting array enhanced the experience. As mentioned earlier, the video presentation was one of the best I’ve seen, using GSR’s two screens on either side of the stage, as well as the band’s own broad screen draped across the back of the stage.

All this coupled with a 24-song set that lasted two hours made this a great show.

There were many points where the energy and enthusiasm of the audience reached a fever pitch. Notable stimuli were “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” “All This Time,” and “Walking on the Moon.” From that song, the frenzy continued to build all the way to the end of the show. Of the last eight songs, six were originally by The Police.

I always enjoy the ramping up of the setlist to the big finish. This way, an artist can take the audience on a journey. Typically the formula is to have the audience on their feet, jumping, dancing and singing in a climax of energy when you finish. Sting’s two-song encore started with the song that put him and The Police on the map, “Roxanne.” But Sting has a different plan.

“It is my custom to finish the evening with something quiet and thoughtful,” he said. “So you go home quiet and thoughtful.”

He put us all at peace with “Fragile,” from his 1987 album, “Nothing Like the Sun.”

(c) This Is Reno by Nick McCabe