Brand New Day
Camden, USBlockbuster/Sony Music E-Center
With Jeffrey Gaines

Sting Opens North American Tour in Camden, N.J.

The opening concert for Sting's 40-date North American tour drew heavily from his most recent solo album, but it was his old Police hits that had the crowd on its feet Saturday (June 24) in Camden, N.J.

'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Roxanne', and 'Every Breath You Take' saw the audience dancing, clapping, and singing along despite the hot summer air at the outdoor Sony-Blockbuster Entertainment Centre. Performing with a six-piece backing band for the majority of the show, Sting remained onstage nearly nonstop in a black muscle T-shirt and charcoal gray cargo pants as he made his way through these songs as well as numerous selections from 1999's 'Brand New Day' and his earlier solo work.

The nearly two-hour performance included few surprises, with the exception of a one-song appearance by the Prince of Rai, Cheb Mami, whom Sting introduced as ''one of the greatest singers in the world.'' The two paired for a rousing rendition of 'Desert Rose' - one of the few non-Police songs to keep the crowd on its feet.

Other than the obligatory thank-yous, Sting spoke little to the audience over the course of the show, allowing, instead, for his music to do the talking. Most of the songs sounded great in their live renditions, especially 'Roxanne', which was injected with an energy that made it more infectious than the original. 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and 'Fields of Gold' were also outstanding performances, however the slightly faster 'Every Breath You Take' lacked the charm of the original recording, but nonetheless was a crowd favourite.

'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' worked well even though it was updated to sound more like Sting's jazzier solo work than the Police original as the result of a subtle change in rhythm.

Other concert highlights included an extended keyboard jam on 'When the World Is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around' as well as the more mellow, but jazzy set for 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' and 'Tomorrow We'll See'. Trumpet solos and a full moon hovering above the stage thanks to special effects added to the ambience on the latter two performances.

Special effects also transformed the stage from the lush, drapery-backed setting for

'A Thousand Years' and 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' to a city skyline for 'Englishman in New York' to the more exotic, faux-flame-lit setup of 'Desert Rose'.

Opening for Sting was Harrisburg, Pa., native Jeffrey Gaines (imagine a less-gravelly voiced Bryan Adams). The singer-songwriter performed selections taken mostly from his self-titled debut and 1998's 'Galore' as he was backed only by a drummer and a keyboardist/guitarist for the majority of his set. However, it was his closing song, an expressive rendition of Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song', that proved to be the highlight as he performed solo, backing himself up on acoustic guitar.

(c) CDNOW website by Regis D'Angiolini