Sacred Love

Cincinnati, OH, US
Riverbend Music Centerwith Dominic Miller & Annie Lennox
Sting & Lennox keep their fans bouncing...

Sting and Annie Lennox hitting the road for a tour together makes a lot of sense, since a map of their careers would reveal several converging routes.

Both dominated the charts in the '80s with decade-defining rock bands, the Police (Sting) and the Eurythmics (Lennox).

After the dissolution of both groups, the two musicians returned to prominence with solo ventures that scored big on adult contemporary radio.

The set lists for the pair's performances Sunday at Riverbend Music Center spanned the oeuvres of each, but the game of musical chairs played by the crowd told the artists' stories much more succinctly. For much of the show, the audience bounced between swaying in their seats and gyrating in the aisles.

Down for Lennox's 'No More 'I Love You's', a track from her 1995 cover album backed with bare instrumentation that allowed her powerful voice to reverberate heartbreak throughout the pavilion. Up for her zealous revival of the Eurythmics' rousing 'Missionary Man'.

Down for the hushed vocals of 'Dead Man's Rope' and several more of Sting's solo compositions. Up, up, up for the chills-inducing opening notes of the synthesized nightscape that is the Police's 'Synchronicity II'.

Lennox, who played first, and Sting split their sets between anthemic rockers written decades ago and their more recent, and frequently mellower, solo songs. They covered all the bases for an audience that - if you judge by the number of people who knew all the words to every number - contained many fans who had weathered the vicissitudes of both performers' careers.

By the middle of Sting's energy-charged set, when Lennox sauntered onstage to trade verses of the apt 'We'll Be Together', people were grabbing their seats a lot less frequently. The duet underscored one of the major differences between the two. Sting possesses a courtly charm - how many rock stars would bow to kiss the hand of a singing partner? - while Lennox's sultry magnetism arises from a more primal place.

Lennox let her stage presence speak for itself during her set, as she segued from song to song without addressing the crowd. Sting, on the other hand, cracked jokes and introduced his backing band, which included two percussionists, twice. (Of course, some Police fans would argue that it takes two musicians to approximate the work of the group's drum god, Stewart Copeland.)

Ever the English gentleman, Sting didn't keep the crowd waiting long for two encores. ''You've been a lovely audience,'' he announced before exiting the stage.

(c) The Cincinnati Enquirer by C.E. Hanifin