Summoner's Tales
Pittsburgh, USStar Lake Amphitheater

Middle age doesn't dampen Sting show...

Vindicating his reputation as a beloved and generous entertainer, Sting launched into a spirited, if orthodox, set at Star Lake Amphitheatre last night.

Leading with 'If I Should Ever Lose My Faith In You', from 'Ten Summoner's Tales', the King of Pain gave the 12,265-strong audience its money's worth.

'Heavy Cloud, No Rain', 'Love is Stronger Than Justice', 'Seven Days', and 'Fields of Gold' quickly followed with only the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life' interrupting the block of new songs.

The ex-Police frontman was in strong voice as he belted out what may soon become his signature songs with unrepentant glee. Displaying none of the manic charisma that characterized his performance style 10 years ago,

Sting, now 41, nonetheless kept the crowd entertained with note-by-note renditions of songs that haven't lost power or relevance over the years. And you couldn't have convinced large segments of the audience that it wasn't 1983 again anyway, when guitarist Dominic Miller and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta launched into the opening chords of 'Synchronicity'.

Though Sting stood in place, there was an unbridled wildness in his facial expressions. He may be older now, but he isn't dead yet, and some songs clamour for passion. Even this critic found himself singing along on 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and the incurably romantic 'Roxanne'. Right on cue, a red light came on for dramatic emphasis during the chorus of 'Roxanne'. Sting may be a corny literalist now, but he doesn't waste too much time with ineffective stunts in his live show.

Another new song, 'Shape Of My Heart', was the best ballad of the evening, with David Sancious' keyboard synthesizer providing the light orchestral sounds that make the song work. On 'St. Augustine in Hell', Colaiuta supplied the voice of the devil on the song that placed rock critics, accountants and lawyers in the bad place. But for some odd reason, the more uncharitable lyrics were dropped from the song.

With 'Englishman in New York', Sting proved he had plenty of charisma left for a middle-aged rocker. The only downer the whole night was the fog spewing out from the back of the stage during 'King of Pain'. This reduced what could have been the show's emotional center into a late '70s stunt. Thank goodness only a few handheld cigarette lighters came out during this potentially kitschy moment.

Encoring with 'She's Too Good For Me', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Fragile', Sting ended the evening on musical high notes that prove that rock showmanship and middle age are not mutually exclusive. Sting put on a terrific show.

(c) The Pittsburgh Post Gazette by Tony Norman

Sting fans see singer operate with precision, grace at concert...

''You don't have to have the intelligence of a brain surgeon to play rock and roll,'' Sting once said in a Rolling Stone interview. ''The opposite is the general rule, in fact.''

But the 12,265 fans who attended Sting's concert at Star Lake Amphitheater last night saw the man operate with precision and grace. And his bedside manner wasn't bad, either.

Sting took to the stage promptly at 9 p.m., and was greeted by a standing ovation that continued throughout the night. Dressed in lean black pants and a billowy white shirt, Sting opened the evening with a current hit single, 'Faith'.

Then, after a gallant bow, he slipped right into 'Heavy Cloud, No Rain', 'Love is Stronger Than Justice' and 'Seven Days', all songs from his latest album, 'Ten Summoner's Tales'. The title plays off his real name, Gordon Matthew Sumner, and Chaucer's literary classic, 'The Canterbury Tales'.

The Englishman then broke into the Beatles' song 'Day in the Life', followed by another ''Summoner'' song, 'Fields of Gold', a quiet ballad that had the still-standing crowd swaying.

Sting also peppered the evening's program with the old, familiar tunes he recorded with the Police, beginning with 'Synchronicity' and 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'.

After the first chords of 'Roxanne' echoed through the amphitheater, the audience, intermittently bathed in bright, red lights during the song's chorus, sang along. The sometime-actor then introduced his next song, 'Probably Me' from the 'Lethal Weapon 3' soundtrack, by telling the audience: ''I got a call from Hollywood and they said, 'We want you to write a buddy song that Mel Gibson can sing to Danny Glover.'''

Two more ''Summoner'' songs, 'Shape of My Heart' and 'St. Augustine in Hell' preceded 'Straight To My Heart' and 'Englishman in New York', two songs from his 1987 album, 'Nothing Like the Sun'. He rounded out the evening with the Poice's 'King Of Pain', and a song from an early solo album, 'Bring On the Night/When the World is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around'.

Encores included 'She's Too Good For Me', 'Epilogue (Nothing 'Bout Me)', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Fragile'.

Opening for Sting was the Los Angeles-based band dada - Michael Gurley, Joie Calio and Phil Lavitt - performing songs from their first album, 'Puzzle', including their latest release, 'Here Today', 'Gone Tomorrow', whose video is currently getting airplay on MTV. Dada's lineup also included 'Dizz Knee Land' and 'Dorina'.

(c) The Pittsburgh Tribune by Christy Slewinski