Mercury Falling
Virginia Beach, USVirginia Beach Amphitheater
With Natalie Merchant

Superb concert at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater...

Ego-maniac, environmental, extremist, enigma - Sting has been called all that and more.

Those who witnessed his superb concert at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater Tuesday night can add extraordinary, timeless talent to the list. It's been nearly 20 years since the bassist/vocalist days as chief of the pop/punk band Police.

Since then he has launched a successful film career, endeavoured in social activism, and released a string of stellar solo albums. Tuesday he was in top form, looking remarkably fit, his distinctive smoky voice was seasoned with satisfying expressivity, especially in moments like the virtual a capella intro to the lilting 'I Was Brought to my Senses' from the new album 'Mercury Falling'.

Sting and his crack six-man band focused on most of Mercury's spare but effective jazz-tinged material before moving on to familiar favourites. Police classics, such as 'Roxanne' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' were predictable crowd-pleasers, as were Sting hits, such as 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' from the singer's 1985 solo debut 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'.

Sting, who started his musical career as a jazzbo, has always surrounded himself with outstanding jazz musicians, and Tuesday night was no exception. His long-time guitarist Dominic Miller sent up glorious rims of singing, sighing riffage, while the rest of the band, especially the pair of horn players and keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, stretched out on most every number, handing off elastic solo turns like a free-form jazz jam.

Opening for Sting, Ex-10,000 Maniacs vocalist Natalie Merchant - she of the limited alto range - delivered a gentle set of mostly mid-tempo fare culled from the Maniacs hit list and her solo LP 'Tigerlilly'.

(c) The Virginian Pilot by Sue Vanhecke