Chicago, USRavinia Festival

Sting's sharp career celebration warms Ravinia crowd...

North Face and Patagonia are not sponsoring the current Sting tour, although eyeing the audience at Ravinia Friday, they might have. The brisk night brought out the fleeces, scarves and even a few gloves - and even Sting had a space heater at his feet - but that didn't prevent the 61-year-old veteran singer and bassist from giving a performance that appeared heated via slinky hip-shaking, and a set list designed to leave no one out in the cold.

Sting's current ''Back to Bass'' tour is a tightly packed retrospective, assembling all the facets of his 36-year career into a neat two hours of the obvious hits, some international detours, and requisite ballads. The Ravinia show, the first of two consecutive sold-out nights, accommodated the expectations of anyone who entered the Sting camp early, middle, or late. He didn't push things much beyond those boundaries; instead, Sting performed with the consummate class of a professional who appears more relaxed in presenting his long line of musical trophies than he is earning any more for the shelf.

There's been a lot of basking since 2003, the last time Sting released an album of all-new originals. Since then, he's released an album of symphonic covers of past songs, a holiday album, another where he played the medieval lute, plus - most exciting for longtime fans - a two-year reunion tour with The Police, the band that was once the biggest in the world and made it obvious can still be whenever they decide to make it happen.

Indeed, many Police songs made Friday's set list, but while the singer remained the same, the songs sounded softer, slower, and less at the edge, and more settled back in the middle of the living room. Sting opened the songs to his five-piece band, trading vocals with singer Jo Lawry on 'King of Pain' and introducing furious fiddling near the end of 'Driven to Tears' courtesy of soloist Peter Tickell. Although the sinister undertone of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' emerged in its latter incarnation as simply sleepy, Sting pivoted into a more entrenched rock groove on 'Demolition Man' and 'Next to You,' two songs that gave the band opportunities to lock down into serious business.

His band featured keyboardist David Sancious, a one-time member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, and a longtime Sting accompanist dating back 22 years. He, Sting, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta briefly tightened into a jazz trio where they presented the evening's brief interlude of improvisation, where it became obvious all three musicians had uncorked a more playful personal interest.

Sting is reportedly set to release his first new album in 10 years later this year, based on a new musical he is writing with onetime Chicago writer John Logan, but no new songs showed up Friday. No one in the audience appeared to notice as they were busy making their presence known several times in the night - 'Message in a Bottle' in particular - in soaring gang vocals worthy of a European soccer chant.

The best of Sting's material outside The Police were songs that remained influenced by reggae, funk and clever polyrhythmic change-ups. But some of those later songs submerged in big gestures (the quasi-Middle Eastern flavor of 'Desert Rose') or were yellowed by their static imagery ('Shape of My Heart').

Despite the chill in the air, Sting bravely soldiered onward in leather pants and a reptilian print shirt, more than once flashing dance gestures that suggested Ricky Martin was providing tutoring lessons in the recent past. He embraced his role as everyone's favorite Sexy Aristocrat, at one point telling the audience about his home: ''a little house in England by the countryside - well, it's a castle really,'' he said.

The tool that remains remarkably resilient is his voice, which he expertly uses to full effect, whether snapping off short yelps, or using it to burst songs open. After getting the Ravinia crowd to its feet for all the requisite hits, Sting returned for a second encore that served as a cool-down: 'Fragile,' a song that lived up to its title, sounding like a calm prayer meant to end a busy night.

(c) Chicago Sun-Times by Mark Guarino

FireFox June 04,2013
Got tickets today! Sooooo excited to see and hear our live legend! STING IS THE BEST!
dwgarrett1463 April 25,2013
No Seat
Wow, from changing the dates and times to being sold out before you could even click the mouse. Membership does not have its privileges here. Good to see that Ticketmaster was able to get theirs to sell at a premium!
leelee62 April 25,2013
just so you do know
tickets for ravinia in Chicago....97% of the ticket sales go to the "ravinia members". There is really no chance of getting tickets. So, those who did get tickets, be thankful, you beat some good odds.
leelee62 April 25,2013
I have rearranged my schedule 3 times for these tickets. Did not get the presale tickets yesterday. Back at my computer today at 9:45a to see if by some miracle I can get general public tickets, only to find out they have all been sold. Hello, 10;00 was the time given for the general public. I hope this is the venue that operates this way and not STING!
Kimberlea April 25,2013
Public Tix Sold Out Before 5AM Posted Ti
Why would you post that the "public on-sale will begin Thursday, April 25 at 5AM" when tickets are sold out and it is only 2:30AM? Great way to treat your fans!!
Tracie April 24,2013
No Seats also
LeeLee62...The reserve seats sold out in less than 4 minutes. I was signed on at 10am. After resetting my password, I was in the ticket selection area at 10:03 and they were gone. I joined the fan site so i could get tickets early. Oh well.
Tracie April 24,2013
No Seats
LeeLee62...they sold out in less than 4 minutes! I was on the site at 10:00 exactly and it made me reset my password. I got into the tickets sales at 10:03 and the reserved seats were gone! I joined the web site for the same reason, so I could get early access. Oh well.
babrukner April 24,2013
Password problems
Did anyone have a problem logging in today. I had to change my password and it was very frustrating. Did get 2 tickets though but they are singles in the same row.
leelee62 April 24,2013
no seats
Well, that was a joke. I guess it does not do any good to be a member of the fan club. Tickets at Ravinia sold out reserved seats in 6 minutes. Really? Oh well I got a 45.00 t-shirt. So upset.
kat April 23,2013
Why isn't there going to be a LEGACY window for the presales? The last time Sting was at Ravinia, there was a legacy window. I'm very disappointed with this latest development. For these concerts, there is no advantage to being a legacy member!
stingcom April 23,2013
Ravinia Presale Update
The Ravinia presales will take place tomorrow, 24 April, from 10am to 3pm (local time). You need to use your unique code displayed on the tour page when you are logged in. There is no legacy window for these two presales. All members get access at 10am (local).
stingcom April 22,2013
Presale Update
The fan club pre-sale for the June 7 and 8 shows at Ravinia has been moved from tomorrow, Tuesday April 23 to this Wednesday, April 24. More details posted on by Tuesday AM.
KJoyce April 18,2013
Details of presale...
When will the details come out? I see 10 am on April 23rd now, but is that EDT? CDT? Will the Meet & Greet package be available?
pjanu April 16,2013
VIP presale
does anyone know the details on the presale and how it matches with the VIP packages through VIP Nation? do both occur at the same time? 10am CST/EST/PST?
labelledame April 02,2013
Chgo Pre Sale Chg'd
Yes I believe it did, got my finger on the button ready to go and moved stuff around so I can do it and it appears to be later this month
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