Brand New Day
West Valley, USE-Center
With k.d. lang

Sting brings that swing to E Center...

The former Police bassist held a world-rhythm party in the E Center on Wednesday night as the nearly sold-out audience hung on every note and lyric the master musician pulled from his 20-year career.

After the E Center lights dimmed, the mystical opening chords of 'Thousand Years' hushed the roaring crowd.

The years have been good to Sting - born Gordon Sumner. His sky-high tenor floated on the crystal-clear mix provided by his air-tight band. The group - keyboardist Kipper, guitarist Dominic Miller, trumpeter Chris Botti, drummer Manu Katche and pianist Jason Robello - backed his Stingness with energy and superb musicality.

Each band member let loose with solos during other smooth, ear-pleasing tunes, such as the older 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' from his debut solo outing, 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles', and the newer 'After the Rain Has Fallen' from his latest album, 'Brand New Day'.

The dynamic groove of 'We'll Be Together' followed After the Rain with nary a pause, and Katche was able to chat it up with a little French rap session during 'Perfect Love...Gone Wrong'. Botti's trumpet laced the reggae touches of 'Seven Days' and the New Orleans-flavored 'Moon Over Bourbon Street'. The mellow 'Fields of Gold' and the off-beat pump of 'Englishman In New York' and shuffle of 'Brand New Day' were also crowd favorites.

Sting hasn't forgotten what got him where he is today. He paid homage to his former band with 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and played an acoustic intro to 'Roxanne', as well as encore fillers 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Message In a Bottle', which had young and old singing along.

The country-gospel ditty 'Fill Her Up' and the ethereal 'Desert Rose' kept the dynamics alive. Moving spots and mechanical cloth backdrops unfolded and waved as lighting effects set the mood. 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Fragile' were fitting show closers as the audience begged Sting to stay a few additional hours.

The smooth, mid-tempo set of k.d. lang primed the audience with lush orchestrations of 'Constant Craving' and her new single, 'Summer Fling'. Her dry-witted tribute to ''Lawrence Welk Fans'' was a hit, as were her new songs 'When We Collide' and 'Extraordinary Thing' from her new album 'Invincible Summer'. The singer danced, jigged, swayed and even did a couple of jetes in her mesmerizing set.

(c) Deseret News by Scott Iwasaki

Sting brings solid-gold predictablity...

There are basically two schools of thought on Sting, an artist now in his fourth decade making music.

On the one hand, there are those who believe Sting ''sold out'' long ago, forsaking his punk background and working-class roots to focus on adult-contemporary songs used to sell cars and computers at the same time they are winning him Grammys. Sting's defenders would argue that the man has simply matured, using his solo career to explore any musical muse that bounds upon his tree-hugging, yoga-practicing intellectual path. Whether he wants to delve into jazz or world-beat, or sappy movie-soundtrack sentiments, it doesn't matter to them. He is still Sting, author of the soundtrack to their lives.

Wednesday night's Sting concert at the E Center showed both sides have some ammunition in the debate. He had an ace band of musicians in tow, as always, and trumpeter Chris Botti and longtime Sting sideman Dominic Miller were particularly noteworthy. And while Sting and his band certainly ignited on several occasions, showing off just how good the band is when given the chance to improvise, for much of the show they were too-mannered, playing tasteful licks but not setting off many sparks.

Sting was wise to mix in plenty of older solo hits with songs from his 1999 Grammy-winning 'Brand New Day', with five Police songs to boot, but he also seemed to choose the most obvious songs. While past tours, like 1993's 'Ten Summoner's Tales' show at Park West, offered an intriguing mix of the unexpected from Sting, Wednesday's show was basically a greatest-hits affair.

The band successfully restructured the songs from 'Brand New Day' without all the bells and whistles used on the CD, and the first two singles, the title track and 'Desert Rose', received a raucous reaction. But 'Perfect Love...Gone Wrong' was the best new song of the night, its smoky, swanky groove providing an opportunity for each of the musicians on stage to take a turn in the spotlight.

Between new songs, Sting hit on a series of crowd-pleasers, including a hyperactive 'We'll Be Together' from 1990's 'Nothing Like The Sun', 'All This Time' from 1991's 'The Soul Cages' and 'Fields of Gold from 1993's 'Ten Summoner's Tales'.

Sting's first solo hit, 'If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free', from 1987's 'Dream of the Blue Turtles' was a surprising choice as the second song of the night, and the best moments came in songs that don't always pop up in a Sting concert: '7 Days', 'Moon Above Bourbon Street' and the show-ending 'Fragile' were all highlights.

The Police songs in the set were manna for Sting's longtime fans, but he went the safe route there as well. He played one song from each Police album, and the biggest hits were all there. Every Breath You Take' was more groovy than the gloomy original, Roxanne took on a techno sheen, 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' turned the E Center into a three-minute dance party and Sting's solo guitar take on 'Message in a Bottle' created an undeniable connection between artist and audience through the call-and-response chorus.

The best Police song of the night, though, was 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Most of What's Still Around', from 1980's 'Zenyatta Mondatta'. The song began as a piano-driven shuffle and ended as a spiralling jam, giving the band the most space all night to just take flight and rock out.

All in all, Sting provided a solid 20-song set, including the two pre-scheduled encores, in just more than 90 minutes. His show could have used more passion and less predictability, but there is little arguing with his songwriting prowess.

k.d. lang, on the other hand, had passion to burn in her 40-minute opening set, one of nine dates with Sting before she takes her own 'Invincible Summer' tour out as a headliner. Playing to a largely empty room, thanks to traffic jams at every entry to the E Center's parking lots, lang and her eight-piece band filled the space with a wash of breezy songs performed by one of the best voices in American music. Focusing mainly on her new 'Invincible Summer' album, lang and her band, including three killer backup singers, tore into songs like the uplifting 'Summerfling' or ballads like 'Only Love' and 'When We Collide'. lang bounded barefoot across the stage, chatted up the crowd between nearly every song and even busted out a Lawrence Welk imitation at one point.

''We're going to play a little song I wrote a few years back,'' lang said in a hoarse rasp at one point, before launching into a dead-on take of 'Constant Craving', her biggest hit. ''You may be familiar with it. Maybe not. But it's one of those gems.''

lang is one of those gems herself, and she certainly seemed to be having more spontaneous fun on stage than the man she was opening for. Sting served up mostly a greatest-hits package on Wednesday night at the E Center. While Sting and his band certainly ignited on several occasions, showing off just how good the band is when given the chance to improvise, for much of the show they were too-mannered, playing tasteful licks but not setting off many sparks.

(c) The Salt Lake Tribune by Dan Nailen