Soul Cages

Cuyahoga Falls, OH, US
Blossom Music Centerwith Special Beat, Vinx
Sumner's Blossom show lacks certain Sting - As expected, concert was artsy and two hours long, but without musical contrast it seemed like one song...

You never really know what to expect from an ex-actor/Police man doing business as Sting.

But with Gordon `Sting' Sumner, you have a pretty good idea.

For one thing, it's going to be plenty artsy - real bohemian. It's probably going to be a little on the dry side, too - as in long.

True to form, the sometime thespian and former member of The Police delivered on both counts Friday, at Blossom Music Center.

This is not to say, necessarily, that the two-hour session he conducted didn't have a certain charm.

It did. Sort of. And in typical Sting fashion, it also was marked with a near-flawless - almost pristine - precision. The problem, however, is that the man's music has such a relentless sameness about it, from song to song, that it tends to create the impression of one very long song. And unless one is in search of a cure for insomnia, that can become mighty tiresome.

Backed by a fine three-piece ensemble featuring the superb work of guitarist guitarist Dom Miller, the Stingmeister - wearing a black T-shirt and matching slacks tucked into some fancy combat boots - meandered through the session with a laid-back, ho-hum approach that pretty much matched the muggy weather.

As much jazz as rock, the music offered little in the way of contrast and even less in the way of excitement. A steamy pass at the durable Police nugget, 'Roxanne', helped, a little. So did the smoky sprays of overhead lighting that at least offered some occasional visual stimulation as it shifted from the almost perpetually stationary players.

But mostly it was the kind of show one might want to accompany with a good book, or maybe some knitting.

Sting pretty much captured the mood early in the performance when he completed a languid pass at 'I'm Mad About You' and addressed the crowd.

''How do you feel, now?'' he asked the assembled 11,000.

'Clap, clap, yeah, yeah,' came the weary reply.

''Yeah, me, too,'' said Sting, as he labored into a version of the old Bill Withers hit, 'Ain't No Sunshine'.

Yawn. Scratch.

(c) The Akron Beacon Journal by Mark Faris