Mercury Falling
Darien Lake, USPerforming Arts Center
With Lyle Lovett

No doubt about it, Sting's mercury was rising...

With the mania of his Police days and early solo years behind him, and with his latest release, the soft 'Mercury Falling', rapidly descending the pop charts, Sting may be headed for the more relaxed world of the ''adult contemporary'' entertainer.

But he is aging well. Goateed and muscular, Sting appeared content and youthful in combat boots, fatigue pants and a gray tank top as he and his five-man band worked the crowd of - mostly - thirty-somethings, alternately lulling and rocking them. His 90-minute set mixed popular favorites with a few more interesting choices.

He dipped into his Police repertoire for such standards as 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Every Breath You Take' as well as the unexpected 'When the World Is Running Down' and 'Demolition Man'. His vocals were in fine form - his age noticeable only on the highs in 'Roxanne'.

Sting was in control on bass, but the band wasn't up to rocking Police standards. Ironically, on 'Synchronicity II', they weren't quite in synch. The jovial, untucked saxophonist and trombonist filled the set with improvisational interludes and jazzy tomfoolery - and even an old-school rap by sax man Butch Thomas in the middle of an excellent rendition of 'An Englishman in New York'.

Sting gave the current album its due, with well-crafted tracks like 'The Hounds of Winter' and 'I Hung My Head'.

Opener Lyle Lovett entered the stage to enthusiastic applause to share the vocals on the country-influenced 'I'm So Happy I Can't Keep From Crying.' The balanced set kept the crowd rapt. For every soothing sit-down number like 'Fields of Gold', there was an up-tempo 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' to get the fans up and dancing. He chose to bow out quietly, ending the night with 'Mercury Falling' and 'Fragile'.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the show was that each song was translated into sign language - ''a beautiful language,'' as Sting called it. Two energetic female signers in the pit below stage-right took turns gracefully bringing his lyrics to a contingent of deaf fans in front of the stage. Credit Sting with making a fascinating addition to the rock scene. 'My Faith In You' was performed as the encore, and then some.

No doubt about it, Sting's mercury was rising.

(c) The Buffalo News by Jim Sullivan