Summoner's Tales
Richmond, USClassic Amphitheater

Every little song Sting sings makes magic...

Sting? Oh yeah, right in the feel-good zone of a near-sellout crowd attending Sunday's concert at The Fairgrounds on Strawberry Hill's Classic Amphitheatre.

Sting's husky, distinctive voice kept an adult audience of 9,000 dancing and singing through much of a seamless, nearly two-hour, memorable pre-holiday performance.

Backed by Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, keyboardist David Sancious (best solo performance of the night) and guitarist Dominic Miller, Sting earned two encores with his trademark musical style, which fuses jazz, rock, pop, reggae, blues and R&B.

He generated the most enthusiastic response with six Police-era hits. Midway through the show he strolled down memory lane with 'Synchronicity II', immediately eased into the bouncy 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', then delivered 'Roxanne', clearly the crowd favorite.

''Like that, huh?'' he asked as fans went wild over the song. Sting didn't get a standing ovation since admirers were on their feet anyway, but he did earn thunderous applause.

Fans who knew his older material (just about everyone) sang along. But those unfamiliar with cuts from his latest album, 'Ten Summoner's Tales', were disappointed by the murky sound system that made it difficult to understand lyrics.

Sting opened with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You'. New material included the well-executed 'Heavy Cloud No Rain' and the audience-pleasing 'Shape of My Heart'.

Sting kept conversation to a minimum and let his artistry speak. He made fans laugh while explaining the origins of 'It's Probably Me', the song he wrote for the film 'Lethal Weapon 3'.

Among his first thoughts for a song? ''My lethal weapon is slightly bigger than yours,'' he jokingly said.

After the first of two encores, Sting came back on stage bare-chested, prompting one dreamy-eyed female fan to ask why he had waited so long to remove his billowy white shirt.

His closing encore, 'Fragile', nicely ended the show on a tender note as Sting sweetly plucked on a Spanish guitar.

Opening act dada delivered 40 minutes of memorable hook-laden songs. 'Dizz Knee Land', 'Dorina' and other spirited songs from dada's debut album 'Puzzle' were well-received. Guitarist Michael Gurley, the group's standout musician, was excellent without excess.

(c) The Richmond Times-Dispatch by Robin Farmer