Sting at Trump Marina offers pop, a bit of class...
You may hum a Backstreet Boys song on the radio, but going to a concert is out of the question without a child as a cover. You can admire the punkish energy of Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, Hole and others, but dealing with a mosh pit isn't appetizing. Even the hard rock of old reliable Aerosmith has a drawback. You cannot wear a dress with a slit up to there around the beer, T-shirt and jeans crowd.
But Sting, who made his solo debut Saturday at Trump Marina Hotel Casino, is a different story. Sting's pop, which mixes jazz, reggae and Third World music, is a cut above in intelligence over the average pop doggerel. He picks excellent musicians to create it in the studio and reproduce live. His music has some spirit, but you don't have to worry about getting all sweaty and messing up the outfit.
Also, Sting's not a nostalgia act. He still releases albums through a major record label. His new album, 'Brand New Day', is at No. 30 on the pop albums chart, and the video for the first single, which is the title track, is being played on the VH1 cable channel.
Sting played most of his new album live Saturday, seven out of 10 tracks, and it helped to be familiar with it.
On the positive side, Sting did spread the new songs throughout the concert, and the 'Brand New Day' album is among his more accessible solo works.
The sold-out crowd was a little subdued in the beginning considering they were seeing one of the world's biggest pop stars in a 1,500-seat venue, one of the smallest on his current tour. Big applause greeted 'If You Love Someone, Set Them Free', and he played 'We'll Be Together' before speaking to the crowd.
''I haven't been here since 1983,'' said Sting about a show at Boardwalk Convention Hall with his former band, the Police. ''It's a nice cozy little room. You people in front, I can hear every word you say.''
Besides Sting's solo singles, 'All This Time', 'Fields Of Gold', 'An Englishman In New York', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Fragile', he pulled out a couple of surprise selections. The songs 'Mad About You' from his 'Soul Cages' album and 'Seven Days' from his 'Ten Summoner's Tales' weren't obvious choices, but they were as good as anything else he played.
Another album cut from one of his earlier solo albums, 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' was especially tasty.
Sting donned a hat and did an imitation of the late jazz great Louis Armstrong while trumpeter Chris Botti, who was superb throughout the night, accompanied him.
The Police songs caused the biggest sensation. 'Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic' was the first one, and people started dancing. 'Roxanne' turned into a vocal exchange between Sting and the audience.
'Bring on the Night' was followed by a long jam on 'When The World Is Running Down'.
'Every Breath You Take' and 'Message In a Bottle' were part of the encores that finished the 25-song, two-hour show.
Another bassist-singer-songwriter, Meshell Ndegeocello, opened the concert and used her time to promote her overlooked third album, 'Bitter', which was released this year on Maverick Records. Five of her six songs were from that album, which is translated into a more moody and atmospheric version of jazz singer Cassandra Wilson's music.
The top ticket price for the Sting show was $200. It wasn't worth that much money, but it was an enjoyable, pleasant evening of well-crafted, well-performed music.
(c) The Press of Atlantic City by Vincent Jackson