Summoner's Tales
Toronto, CAKingswood Music Theater

Sting opens Kingswood's summer season...

The Kingswood Music Theatre's summer season opened last night with Sting in a show that was as Canadian as possible, coming from an Englishman. It was safe, predictable, all things to all people, exciting in a reserved way, with more good times than bad and more middling moments than both.

Sting's never been big on stage patter and opened in a more business-like manner than usual, he and a backing trio going directly for the meat of the current album, '10 Summoner's Tales', before 12,000 in attendance. Best of this segment was 'If Ever I Should Lose My Faith In You', which elicited the usual response reserved for video hits, the prophetic 'Heavy Cloud, No Rain', the showers having chilled shortly after Sting came on, 'Fields Of Gold' and 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice', which marked the first time the audience showed serious interest. This one was sparked by a jazzy bit of interplay between Sting and keyboardist David Sancious, and the pair also put on a show-stopping break during 'Englishman In New York'.

But there was also a lot of noodling that simply ate up time and a segment including the down tempo numbers 'It's Probably Me' and 'The Shape Of My Heart' that went nowhere and did nothing for the pace of the set. As the show wore on, rough edges and the sound of notes being hit broadside by a voice snuck in and by the time he got to the high parts on 'King Of Pain', Sting wasn't kidding.

Innovation came in the form of a pair of solid roots reggae workouts on oldies 'Roxanne' and 'Every Little Thing', reminders of Gordon Sumner's days as a member of The Police, a number of whose tunes formed the middle and most well-received section of the show.

Stripping down to a frilly white shirt that looked like a refugee from Prince's laundry hamper, Sting took his case a little more directly to the crowd, playing at stage front and dancing a little but never coming close to anything like high-fiving. The band returned to encore in a funky mood, Sting bare-chestedly braving the chill and laying down tight bass runs on a pair of new ones, 'She's Too Good For Me' and 'Nothin' Bout Me'. The latter pretty much said it; the show's the thing, stick to the surface and that's all you're owed, thank you.

(c) The Toronto Star by Lennie Stout

Sting opens Kingswood's summer season...

With the air of an aristocrat and the flair of a Shakespearean actor, British singer-songwriter Gordon Sumner, known to the world as Sting, cast his magical spell over 11,000 loyal subjects at the inaugural concert of Kingswood's annual summer series last night with a near flawless performance.

Resembling a nobleman with his white frilly-sleeved silk shirt, a black suede topcoat and matching kerchief tied around his neck, Sting and his three minstrels held court for almost two hours, playing a range of material that covered his latest album, 'Ten Summoner's Tales'; his solo career and that of The Police, the band with which he first came to prominence; as well as a cover of The Beatles' 'A Day In The Life'.

With three of the best sidemen in the business guitarist Dominic Miller, drummer Vinnie Coliauta and keyboardist David Sancious at his side the 41-year-old ex-teacher used his wiles as a smart songwriter and a stylistic adventurer to seduce his audience.

Exuding charismatic confidence, Sting began the show with his hit 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' his soothing, sandy delivery setting the tone for an evening of feisty yet eloquent romanticism. After a quartet of numbers from the new album, which tested Sting's crew with complex tempo changes (especially the challenging 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice', written in 7/4 time), he hit his only brick wall with a rather ordinary rendition of 'A Day In The Life'.

A splendid, sensitive version of Fields Of Gold gave way to the rock-heavy 'Synchronicity', followed by a jubilant 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. Sting also dressed up some of his old nuggets in new clothes, by inserting a full dub reggae blowout into the middle of 'Roxanne', and managing to convincingly pull off a straightforward jazz feel to 'An Englishman In New York'.

But is there another rock star who writes lyrics as poetically as Sting? Listen to something as beautiful as 'Fragile', with its delicate melody so carefully picked on acoustic guitar or the suave 'It's Probably Me', and you realize that his words are as lyrical as his music, addressing and appealing to both the heart and the intellect.

Whether it was the hypnotic 'Every Breath You Take' or the exhilarating 'When The World Is Running Down', Sting took it all in royal stride.

What a hot Summoner's night!

(c) The Hamilton Spectator by Nick Crewen