Mercury Falling

Pittsburgh, PA, US
Star Lake Amphitheaterwith Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett and Sting outstanding...

Just in case you're wondering, Sting has managed to settle gracefully into the radio-friendly niche that eventually claims the best of our classic rock heroes. Ask any one of the 10,144 people who turned out for his show at Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre if the former golden boy of New Wave Brit-rock is still relevant. The enthusiasm for the ex-leader of the Police was real and the applause deafening at times.

Alternating songs from 'Mercury Falling' with Police classics and older solo material, Sting, nee Gordon Sumner, was nothing short of masterful.

'The Hounds of Winter' was followed by new gems like 'I Hung My Head' and 'You Still Touch Me'. Police-era tunes included a rocking 'Synchronicity', 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take'.

Opening act Lyle Lovett joined Sting for a beautiful rendition of 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying'. The song about a failed marriage was especially poignant given Lovett's recent divorce from starlet Julia Roberts. Lovett opened the show, fronting what is undoubtedly the best dressed eight-piece in rock'n'roll.

Sticking primarily to songs from the newly released 'The Road to Ensenada', Lovett cut a charismatic figure that easily rivaled Sting. Kicking off his set with a solo-acoustic rendition of 'Promises', Lovett quickly picked up steam and audience interest with full-band versions of 'Don't Touch My Hat', 'Fiona', 'That's Right (You're Not From Texas)', and 'Private Conversation'.

There were also liberal sprinklings of Lovett classics like 'She's No Lady', but the sly Texan's set was top-heavy with new songs like 'I Can't Love You Anymore' and the album's title cut. Lovett and Sting were a potent combination that held up well and may yet prove to be one of the most impressive gigs of the summer.

(c) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Tony Norman

Sting, Lovett class acts at Star Lake...

On the list of class acts in pop music, two names immediately spring to mind: Sting and Lyle Lovett. To have them together on the same bill at Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre Sunday was a rare treat for fans of literate, hook-laden music that transcends radio formats; both of these artists have found success far beyond the confines of their so-called genres.

Though singer/bassist Sting has gained a reputation as a purveyor of middle-of-the-road pop, that's hardly fitting for a guy who knows as much about jazz - and punk - as he does pop. And Lovett, known to too many mainly as the ex-Mr. Julia Roberts, has been churning out jazzy, folky, poppy, big-band music for quite some time. Unfortunately, it's music that, for some reason, winds up labeled as country. With cello solos and soulful blues, it often seems anything but.

Sting, looking his usual, incredibly fit and funky self (despite a goatee), brought his band onstage for a lengthy set that ranged from his newest offerings, on 'Mercury Falling', to vintage Police. By now, his repertoire of hits is so vast, it's hard to choose from, but when he struck the first chords of the Police's 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', a huge roar arose from the crowd of 10,144, most of whom could remember the Police era vividly.

He always recalls his first gig in Pittsburgh, joking with the crowd about the Decade days, as he did Sunday before beginning 'Seven Days', a song that sounds so orchestral, it could have been Lovett's big band backing Sting up.

As it was, Sting had his own veterans, including Brownsville native Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, plus Kenny Kirkland on keyboards and Dominic Miller on guitars, as well as a fine horn section. Staying mostly true to album versions at first - until he delivered a bar or two of 'Soul Man' before 'You Still Touch Me' - he proved truly adept at rousing responses from his audience, many of whom were the same ones who seemed so unresponsive during Steely Dan's show just days before.

They were thrilled when Sting brought Lovett onstage for the country-flavored 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' Lovett, his hair as large as ever, delivered a fine duet. The pair's harmonies were truly a treat, and provided a wonderful lead-in to one of the loveliest love songs Sting's ever written: 'Fields of Gold'.

Lovett's hour-long set consisted mainly of tunes from his new album, 'The Road to Ensenada'. His semi-large band, a somewhat fluid entity, lacked vocalist Francine Reed, but did include a violinist/vocalist who enhanced such songs as 'One-Eyed Fiona' and 'That's Right (You're Not From Texas)'. His bluesy delivery was delicious on 'She's No Lady, She's My Wife' and other numbers.

(c) The Pittsburgh Tribune by Lynne Margolis