Soul Cages
Kansas City, USStarlight Theater
With Special Beat, Vinx

Sting's Cage concert unlocks encore talent of his band members...

Breezes curled machine-made smoke through cones of light on the Starlight Theatre stage Friday night as Sting and his crack rock band pounded through an encore presentation of the 'Soul Cages' concert they gave March 19 at Municipal Auditorium.

An audience of 5,007 heard a 16-song set built around the pop star's latest LP and interspersed with selected cuts from his two other solo albums and his Police-era hits.

Sting - again wearing black, playing bass and cheerfully relaxed - generously and repeatedly turned the spotlight over to reed-thin guitarist Dominic Miller and wildly inventive keyboardist David Sancious. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta rounded out the quartet.

Miller's fiery work ignited 'The Soul Cages' and 'King of Pain', and he shared solo honours with Sancious in a hard-edged 'When the World Is Running Down'. Sancious strapped on a guitar to trade screaming lines with Miller on Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'. That and 'Ain't No Sunshine' were the only non-Sting numbers on the play list, except for a quote from 'If I Were a Carpenter' that riffed into 'Be Still My Beating Heart' and out again to the chorus of 'Why Should I Cry for You?'

The nine-member ska group, Special Beat, did a rhythmic 45-minute opening set enriched by close harmonies and enlivened by the track-team agility's of lead vocalists Ranking Roger and Neville Staples. Percussionist Vinx, who grew up in Overland Park, again did a brief set from his Sting-produced debut album, 'Rooms in My Fatha's House', showing his rich and flexible voice to fine effect against elaborate rhythms on a West Indian drum.

Vinx, wearing a Royals shirt, joined Sting and the band for the last four numbers, and the Special Beat vocalists took the stage for the last two, 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Message in a Bottle', larking around the stage, scaling the amplifiers and jogging through the chorus. A final outburst of high spirits went wrong, and Vinx did a skidding slide into Sting, upending him and bouncing his bass loose. A graceful grin and a hug for Vinx capped the concert.

Sting did only one encore, 'Fragile', on which he played the plangent guitar solo. Oddly, this was as close as this politically alert and socially conscious pop star came to commenting on the astounding world events of the last week.

(c) The Kansas City Star by Evie Rapport