Summoner's Tales
Orlando, USOrlando Arena

Keyboardist takes Sting out of new tunes...

Predictably, a brief string of old Police numbers drew some of the happiest applause from the crowd at Sting's concert at the Orlando Arena Tuesday night. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' brought some people to their feet for the first time, and 'Roxanne' even had many dancing and singing along.

But although you can easily argue that Sting wrote many of his best songs as leader of the Police, the old numbers weren't the most artistically successful of the evening. They called attention to the fact that Sting's current four-piece, while precise and very talented, doesn't have the intensity of the old outfit.

The older songs - 'Roxanne', in particular - also made it tough not to compare and contrast their edgy drama with the decidedly cerebral pop of Sting's recent albums. Tuesday's concert included most of the songs from 1993's Grammy-nominated 'Ten Summoner's Tales', beginning with the album's lead-off track, 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'.

While Sting's more recent melodies aren't always instantly arresting, songs such as 'Fields of Gold', 'It's Probably Me' and 'Seven Days' are extremely well crafted. They suit the cool detachment of his voice, and the arrangements provide interesting changes in tempo and dynamics.

There was also a nice variety of texture even within songs. Keyboardist David Sancious provided most of the jazz elements in this group with his choice of chords and his improvisatory runs. Sting played many of the songs in extended versions, but only Sancious really expanded on them.

Sting was content to repeat key vocal phrases and guitarist Dominic Miller filled his solo time with apposite but unremarkable rock riffing. Sancious also provided many of the atmospherics and textural touches that filled out the group's sound, and even seemed to be triggering some electronic percussion to help out drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Unfortunately, some of Sancious' more subtle contributions got lost in a sound mix that overemphasized Sting's bass. When the bass got particularly loud, its tone became positively brutish.

Sting's strong tenor, luckily, always retained its proper prominence, and was in as good form on 'She's Too Good For Me', the first song of the encore, as it was when he first appeared in his black trousers, black jacket and black vest.

(c) The Orlando Sentinel by Parry Gettelment