Summoner's Tales
Vancouver, CAPacific National Exhibition Coliseum

Sting's music more selective and so is his B.C. audience...

As the music of Sting becomes more selective, so does his audience. A year and a half ago, the blond, square-jawed, 41-year-old British rocker attracted 9,000 fans to the Pacific Coliseum concert bowl. By comparison a relatively scant 6,400 seats sold in advance of Tuesday night's gig.

Nonetheless, fans are fans, and those having graduated from radio-ready hits such as 'Roxanne' - by Sting's former outfit, The Police - to the jazzier noodlings of his five solo efforts were not disappointed. Arriving on stage in black jeans, black suede boots, white frill shirt and tux tails, the man known to his barrister as Gordon Sumner brandished a sunburst bass guitar and hardly looked his days.

He still primps preens and balances - albeit in a considerably more mature manner, and, hey, wouldn't we all like to look that good. Though the band and audience started off the evening as though a more exciting time could be had at the city morgue, spirits picked up by song number three and 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice (Munificent Seven)'.

An inexplicable offer of The Beatles' 'A Day In The Life followed shortly after, reinforcing the edict that certain songs - the Faces' 'Maggie May', The Stones' 'Midnight Rambler', Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone' among them - should not be rehashed by other artists. In a redeeming move, however, Sting dredged up a handful of Police hits, performing 'Synchronicity', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Roxanne' in a row.

The crowd responded with a thundering ovation and the singer relaxed considerably, offering witty between-song banter and amusing ancedotes before once again launching into the kind of chord structures Keith Richards and Ron Wood have never seen before.

A few more Police biggies arrived, notably 'King Of Pain' and the encore of 'Every Breath You Take', in addition to some genuinely moving pieces such as 'Fields Of Gold'.

Lets face it - he looks good writes swell songs and is probably the best rock bassist since Paul McCartney, but he often over does it lyrically and musically to the extent that you some times have to ask, ''Hey, Gord, who really cares?''

Opening with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' from his latest, 'Ten Summoner's Tales', Sting and company - keyboardist David Sancious, guitarist Dominic Miller, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta - proved their worth.

(c) The Vancouver Sun by Greg Potter