Sacred Love

New Orleans, LA, US
Saenger Theatrewith Chris Botti
Sting still rocks...

Debonair and rakish in a charcoal dress shirt with white cuffs and collar and black pinstripe slacks, Sting reasserted his status as the thinking woman's sex symbol during a sold-out Jan. 28 show at the Saenger Theatre.

He tossed off one-liners that will doubtlessly be repeated throughout the long tour. In one anecdote, a fan approached him with, ''Hey, man, I remember you from The Police.'' His reply? ''Nah, that was... my father.''

Sting front-loaded the show's first hour with material from his current 'Sacred Love' CD. At times, his well-rehearsed seven-piece ensemble crammed too much into tracks - world music, skittering dance-club beats and other exotica.

Less was more. Jazz trumpeter and opening act Chris Botti returned to the stage to color the playful stop-start of 'Seven Days' with muted trumpet. For 'Fragile', Sting supplied the Spanish-style guitar, giving the arrangement room to breathe. 'Fields of Gold' remains one of his most affecting solo compositions; it retained its quiet power onstage.

As if to prove he's not too old, Sting and company stormed through the Police favorite 'Synchronicity II' and restored 'Roxanne', rendered on past tours as a bossa nova, as a rocker. Late in the set, when the hits had finally liberated audience posteriors from seats, Sting sang, ''This ain't no time for doubting your power, this ain't no time for hiding your care/You're climbing down from an ivory tower, you've got a stake in the world we ought to share.''

He then put those lyrics from the disco remix of 'Send Your Love' into practice, roaming to stage left and squaring off for a riotous encounter with a woman in the front row. He worked his bass onstage as she danced just below him, their eyes locked. At the song's conclusion, Sting mouthed ''thank you'' to her, an indication that he still gets as much from his audience as he gives.

(c) The Times Picayune by Keith Spera