Mercury Falling

Englewood, CO, US
Fiddler's Green Amphitheaterwith Samples, Rusted Root
Sting shows his many faces...

Imagine, if you can, a television network devoted to nothing but Sting. Such a station actually exists. It debuted last month as part of a promotion for DirecTV, a satellite-to-television system trying to usurp cable in American homes. Twenty-four hours a day, one channel on the system serves up nothing but videos, interviews and concerts from the former chief of Police.

Not enough variety for you? Consider the singer's many incarnations, from new wave poster boy to reggae rocker to jazz journeyman to adult contemporary artist.

OK, it still might be a stretch both day and night, but the many faces of Sting made for an entertaining evening for 15,000 fans at Fiddler's Green Tuesday. After a slow start, the Englishman picked up the pace 15 minutes into the 90-minute show with the trio of tunes, 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Seven Days'.

Backed by panels splashed in bright colours or atmospheric scenery, Sting stood centre stage in grey fatigues and tank top (to show off his lean and muscular built-by-yoga body). For 'I'm So Happy', 'I Can't Stop Crying', he pulled a fan out of the front rows to sign along on the chorus. The giddy participant named Troy knew all the words and didn't embarrass himself - not a given elsewhere on tour where Sting has pulled this well-travelled trick.

While the crowd enjoyed the shtick, it served as an odd interruption just as the singer was building momentum. Yet Sting quickly gained it back with the haunting 'Fields of Gold', followed by the electrifying Synchronicity II and the obligatory 'Roxanne'. The latter took off in an interesting ska rhythms, complete with a trombone solo, and was quickly followed by 'Bring on the Night' mixed with 'When the World is Running Down'.

Sting danced a sly mambo across the stage and Kenny Kirkland got his first extended keyboard solo in an evening that could have used a little more cutting loose. Polished but a little pat, the singer and his band were capable of more than just another warmed-over version of 'Every Breath You Take' and other Sting staples.

The five-piece band backed Sting well, but it couldn't help but serve as a reminder of how much we miss the all-star ensemble that bowled over crowds on the Blue Turtle tour, or, of course, the Police.

But then, you can catch both of those bands on the All-Sting Station, 24 hours a day.

(c) The Rocky Mountain News by Michael Mehle

Sting's only crime - show too brief...

Can we accept for fact that Sting has a marvellously distinctive singing voice?

And that his voice rang true and flawless Tuesday night in front of 15,000 fans at Fiddler's Green? Good. Let's move on.

Sting likes his audience to be part of his show - i.e., no sitting down, and everyone is encouraged to sing. In fact, the only complaint that could be lodged against the former ''Police'' man is that his performance was too short for the wealth of material he can draw from.

After opening performances by Rusted Root and Boulder's Samples, Sting performed for a little over an hour, including two encores. Sporting a goatee and wearing baggy gray combat pants, black Army boots and a gray sleeveless sweater - which made him look like he'd been playing gigs at Gold's Gym - the 44-year-old performer took the stage in front of a standing, howling crowd.

Playing bass and joined by an energetic five-piece ensemble, the Stinger whipped through two songs as a kaleidoscope of abstract images was projected on the wall behind the band. Under threatening clouds, the amphitheatre crowd sat down, then quickly jumped to its feet when Sting broke out with 'Set Them Free'.

As a mild lightning storm appeared to the east, he went into the Police vault and pulled out 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' from 1981's 'Ghost in the Machine'. When Sting got to the verse with a mention of an umbrella, it starting raining, and the crowd became more energised as he encouraged them to chant ''ee-yo-oh!!!'' ''Sorry about the rain,'' Sting told the crowd, still on its feet. ''I'm used to the rain. I'm from England.''

The rain tapered off minutes later as Sting began 'Seven Days' from 'Ten Summoner's Tales'. The audience became most energetic when Sting sang Police hits, especially his signature 'Roxanne'. Bathed in yellow light, Sting sang, ''You don't have to turn on the red light,'' and the audience was doused in a bright red light reaching all the way up to the grass.

A highlight came when Sting asked if anyone knew the words to 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying'. He invited a volunteer on stage; Sting sang the verse, then handed the mike to the young man to sing the chorus. Another highlight, 'When the World is Running Down', had more of a jazz edge than the Police's 'Zenyatta Mondatta' version. Band members soloed on lead guitar, slide trombone, saxophone, drums and keyboard.

(c) The Daily Camera by Laurence Washington