Blue Turtles
Bethlehem, USStabler Arena

Sting shows why he's so hot as 6,100 fans cram Stabler...

It was a concert of captured moments - many of them great, some of them meandering, a few too many deafening - but overall they added up to a memorable event.

Sting: Standing centre stage in an oversized off-white and tan coat and slacks next to a music stand. Two hours of superlative musicianship, intensely rhythmic rock and an audience that couldn't get enough.

Most of the 6,100 in the sellout crowd last night at Stabler Arena, Lehigh University, stood for most of the show, dancing in place and clapping along. Sting encourages a feeling of intimacy between himself and an audience. As one observer noted, this was a cabaret atmosphere. Sting, on hiatus from superstar rock group The Police, said they were the ''perfect audience.'' But then, with perhaps a bit of the former school teacher remaining in one Gordon Sumner, he probably says that to all the audiences.

His was probably the perfect band, the same as on his solo A&M LP, 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'. There's drummer Omar Hakim, whose delicate double-time, bass pedal drum rolls and fluid playing brought everyone to their feet. He teamed with bassist Kenny Kirkland to provide a rhythm section that could stop on a dime - and then start again. Keyboardist Kenny Kirkland laid down additional percussive intensity and provided several tasteful solos. Since Sting only took about three solos himself, concentrating on playing rhythm rather than lead guitar, it was Branford Marsalis, riding high on his soprano sax, who propelled the overall sound.

Adding visual interest, especially when they danced in a decidedly Caribbean style, were backup vocalists Dollete McDonald and Janice Pendarvis. They skipped, high stepped and strutted across the gray- tiered stage several times, with Kirkland, Marsalis and Sting joining them. Sting did his bow-legged wobble, looking like a sea-legged sailor on shore leave. Heels together, he hopped forward and backward like a child. And there were those cross-legged sidesteps (how do they do that, he gestured before he started doing it himself).

While most of the concert of about 16 songs from his solo LP plus several Police hits maintained the light pop sound characteristic of Sting's recent Top 10 hits - 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and 'Fortress Around Your Hear', the show shifted into get-down funk with the Police hit 'When The World Runs Down'. What was happening on stage was in synch with the song's lyrics ''Turn on the VCR/ James Brown and the TAMI show.'' At the centre-stage microphone, Marsalis turned the tune into a full-fledged rap song.

Unfortunately, much of the concert was over-amplified, rendering lyrics incomprehensible and obliterating the ensemble's nuances. 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', an exception, was a quiet mediation on one man's anguished soul.

The encore included 'Roxanne', one of the first hits for The Police.

The concert was presented by Makoul Productions.

(c) The Morning Call by Paul Willistein