Summoner's Tales
Cincinnati, USRiverfront Music Center

Sting rings true in Cincy...

The purpose of touring is to promote a recording artist's latest album - an idea not at all lost on Sting.

The former Police front man played all but one song from his current release, 'Ten Summoner's Tales', before 11,862 fans at Riverfront Music Center on Wednesday night. Fortunately for the show's sake, the album is decidedly more upbeat than Sting's previous effort, 1991's dour 'The Soul Cages', which he presented in a similar fashion on his last tour.

Those in attendance who had yet to purchase 'Ten Summoner's Tales' were at a distinct disadvantage during the 105-minute performance, since large portions of the set were entirely devoted to the new material. But then again, the album is No. 12 this week in Billboard, and Sting's engaging renditions of the songs should prompt some surge in local sales.

Wearing black slacks and a loose white shirt with the long sleeves left unbuttoned, the lean British singer opened the show with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', the album's first single, standing poised on edge and bobbing tightly to the beat as he plucked his electric bass. Three additional new songs followed, but all were upstaged by a daring cover of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life', faithfully recreated by Sting's four-piece band, right down to David Sancious' dramatic final piano chord.

Sounding noticeably hoarse, Sting continued with his latest single, 'Fields of Gold', but with the audience beginning to stir uneasily as a result of his return to unfamiliar and somewhat subdued material, he then cranked up the tempo with a string of Police songs, including 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Roxanne'. The latter taxed Sting's already strained vocal cords, but produced the strongest crowd response of the evening.

Despite his emphasis on the new album, Sting and his band never relied on recorded arrangements, often interrupting songs such as 'Englishman in New York' and 'King of Pain' with jazz- or rock-influenced instrumental breaks. Sancious was featured in an awe-inspiring keyboard solo on the set closer, 'When the World is Running Down (You Make the Best of What's Still Around)', which Sting watched from off to the side with obvious admiration.

A three-song encore offered the two liveliest songs off the new album, 'She's Too Good For Me' and 'Epilogue (Nothing 'Bout Me)', as well as the Police classic, 'Every Breath You Take'.

Dada, a grunge-garbed trio from Los Angeles, opened the show with 40 minutes of catchy alternative pop, highlighted by strong renditions of the modern rock hits 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow', 'Dorina' and 'Dizz Knee Land', as well as a deconstructed cover of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'.

(c) The Dayton Daily News by Dave Larsen

Sting wows Riverbend crowd by returning to Police beat...

Everyone's favourite cerebral middle-aged rock star, Sting, entertained a Riverbend crowd of 11,862 last night with a 110-minute show that showed Gordon ''Sting'' Sumner is finally at ease with his pop star past.

Just as Paul McCartney showed a recent Riverfront stadium crowd he's now content playing the Beatle songs that made him big, Sting ran through a medley of Police songs that was clearly what the crowd came to hear. Fans were on their feet every time Sting hit the first chords of a Police song. And they sat patiently through his solo material.

In past tours Sting has been reluctant to acknowledge his Police legacy, but he grabbed his bass guitar and rocked on to such Police favourites as, 'Synchronicity II', 'Roxanne', and 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'.

Sting also played most of the songs from his new album, 'Ten Summoners Tales', opening the show with his current single, 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'.

Before Police, Sting began his music career as a jazz bassist, and his solo work that started in the '80s was marked by his return to those roots. Ever since the 'Blue Turtles' set, Sting has never failed to surround himself with great musicians. For this tour he kept together the same band from his Soul Cages tour that played the Cincinnati Gardens two years ago - guitarist Dominic Miller, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and keyboardist David Sancious, who provided the musical show-stopper of the night with a piano solo on the Police song, 'When the World is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around'.

Sting, dressed in his white tuxedo shirt, fronted the band with his crisp tenor voice. The concert's only problem was one of pacing. It was hard to tell whether Sting wanted to be a rock star or a jazz maestro. Sting rocked on in parts, to the delight of fans, but lulled them at points with whimsical, jazzy riffs.

It made for great sounding music, but confusion as to whether Sting was here to rock or riff. The Riverbend crowd was made up of a quirky mix of young art rockers and middle age yuppies. There were even a few grunge rockers that seemed to clean up for the night in honour of rock's pristine pop star.

The opening act, dada, an L.A. based pop rock trio, failed to impress the crowd with their twisted sense of musical humour, that included a bizarre cover of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline', and their marvellously bleak mini-hit 'Dizz Nee Land' - a satire on the Disneyland ad campaign.

(c) The Cincinnati Post by Rick Bird