Soul Cages
Omaha, USCivic Auditorium
With Special Beat, Vinx

Sting Keeps Latest Concert Loose, Lively...

For a man whose latest album deals with death and the limitations of life, Sting's concerts are surprisingly upbeat.

The rock star's performance at the City Auditorium Tuesday night was quite lively. Not only that, but Sting was loose and comfortable. He seemed to be enjoying himself more than he did on his 1988 visit to Omaha, when he was promoting 'Nothing Like the Sun', one of his jazz - influenced albums.

Sting is an artist who likes to keep surprising his fans, and he has done so once again with his latest album, 'The Soul Cages'. That album deals with the issue of mortality and also includes many references to Sting's upbringing in the British port city of Newcastle. That album, like all of Sting's works, is elegantly written. But even though the lyrics are serious and sometimes bleak, the album includes some uptempo melodies. The more upbeat tunes helped make Tuesday night's concert considerably less grim than his 1988 show. The atmosphere was largely fun and relaxed.

Among the tunes Sting performed from 'The Soul Cages' were the enjoyable 'All This Time' and 'Mad About You'. Other tunes from the album included the title song and 'Why Should I Cry For You'.

Sting was backed up by a small, three - piece band, featuring Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Dominic Miller on guitar and David Sancious on keyboards.

Even though Sting performed many tunes from ''The Soul Cages,'' the audience of 4,944 reserved its biggest responses for Sting's past hits.

Sting's musical selections also included some unlikely choices. He performed the old Bill Withers' song 'Ain't No Sunshine', simply because, he said, it's always been one of his favorites, and he just felt like singing it. That song was a good match for Sting's voice, which frequently has a tone of lament to it. He and his group also performed 'Purple Haze'. Requests After an extended version of 'If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free', Sting asked the audience for requests. Among the tunes he performed were 'Walking on the Moon' and a magnificent version of 'Every Breath You Take'.

Tuesday night's concert featured a varied mix of music. The evening got off to a rousing start thanks to Special Beat, a nine - man British group whose repertoire includes ska and reggae music. A member of the group told the audience at the beginning of its set that dancing was encouraged, and by the end of the show, the high - energy music did indeed have people dancing. Among the tunes performed by the group was an unusual version of the Miracles' 'The Tears of a Clown'.

The auditorium remained dark after Special Beat's performance. A few minutes later, a percussionist named Vinx walked onstage to perform a brief 15 - minute solo set. Vinx, whose real name is Vincent De Jon Parrette, is an interesting individual. A native of Kansas City, Kan., he is a former triple jumper who was discovered by Sting at a Santa Monica, Calif., nightclub.

Vinx obviously fancies himself a comedian almost as much as a musician. He entertained the audience with a few brief comedy bits. But when he did get around to singing, he displayed a strong, powerful voice.

(c) Omaha World-Herald by Jeff Bahr