Sacred Love

Sacramento, CA, US
Sleep Train Amphitheatrewith Dominic Miller & Annie Lennox
Despite a following that would go to the arctic plains to hear him sing just about anything, Sting still delivers what fans want...

His Oct. 5 concert at Sleep Train Amphitheatre was packed as the singer-songwriter belted out 'Roxanne' - a hit he wrote more than 25 years ago for debut Police album 'Outlandos d'Amour'.

But this was no ordinary rendition of the most famous song about a prostitute. With the crowd on their feet echoing the musician's chanting of ''Roxanne-oh'' and a tossed in ''Sacramento,'' Sting flawlessly transitioned into and then back out of 'King of Pain' - a hit from his parting Police album 'Synchronicity'.

Sting is a musician who's hard to pin to a particular genre. While constantly reinventing himself and his work, one thing remains constant he loves to perform.

His 'Sacred Love' tour wasn't a showcase of his somewhat lackluster 2003 album of the same name, but rather an all-out Sting hit-fest. If a fan's favorite song wasn't played, it's only evidence of the bassist's too many triumphs.

Title song 'Sacred Love' and 'Send Your Love' were played to an enthusiastic crowd, but it was 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Every Breath You Take' that sent the masses into pure elation.

A large thirty-something audience, probably those who were first stung by the artist during their pre-pubescent years, united at the venue with teenagers and baby boomers. And in what's been called the worst year for concert tours in more than a decade, the capacity crowd shows Sting is doing things right.

His tour ranks seventh in the nation with average sales of about $790,000 per stop, topping much younger artists including Usher and Linkin Park.

Helping push ticket sales is opener Annie Lennox. The British pop artist's luminescent voice entranced the audience during the show. With her powerful femininity, the sexy songstress proved she's not just an '80s icon. Eurythmics hits 'Here Comes The Rain Again' and 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)' were followed by the haunting 'Why' from her first solo album 'Diva'.

If that didn't win over the majority of the audience, it was sure to happen when she joined Sting on stage for a duet of his 'We'll Be Together'. Both were all smiles during the upbeat love song and Lennox left the stage to a standing ovation.

Sting's set list also included the wildly romantic traditional versions of 'Fields Of Gold' and 'Fragile'.

'Sacred Love' was much departed from Sting's 'Brand New Day' tour in 2000. He made his Marysville debut that year on a simple stage and played a set that included old hits 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Roxanne' intertwined with the introspective beauty of the then newly-written 'Ghost Story'.

By contrast, 'Sacred Love' is colorful pop extravaganza with a longer-locked and more dapper-dressed Sting accompanied by elaborate lighting and three huge video screens showing, among other things, the images of scantilly-clad dancing women.

The accessories, though they made for a high-energy show, seemed a bit tawdry. And with a stellar performance by Sting, he didn't need the help.

(c) The Chico Enterprise Record by Melissa Daugherty

Sting, Annie Lennox delight Sleep Train Amphitheatre crowd...

There were more similarities than differences between Sting and Annie Lennox, the two headlining-worthy acts that closed the Sleep Train Amphitheatre's 2004 season Tuesday night. A capacity crowd enthusiastically enjoyed the over 2-1/2-hour show, part of their 'Sacred Love' Tour, the adult rockers brought to the outdoor venue near Marysville. Both seasoned performers smoothly mixed hits from their celebrated early bands - Lennox from Eurythmics and Sting from The Police - with selections from their solo careers. Each was also energetic, gracious and in excellent voice, offering ample evidence of why they continue to be top of the pops.

Early arrivals saw Sting's guitarist Dominic Miller play a brief instrumental set, which included the treat of seeing Sting coming out to sing his own 'Shape of My Heart'.

Though Sting tours regularly, Lennox has only been out twice in the last 13 years, and one of those was an extremely brief (two American dates) Eurythmics tour. The real allure of this pairing was the rare opportunity of seeing the graceful Lennox in person. With her five-piece band and two backup singers, Lennox glided onto the stage, which was dressed up as if it were the back lot of a movie studio.

Several large light stands dominated the stage, and the casually dressed musicians looked almost as if they were going to a rehearsal. But as the lithe Lennox sashayed up to the microphone stand in stylishly ripped jeans there was no doubt she was into it.

Lennox is a soul singer at heart, and she whooped and growled her flexible alto voice through 'Little Bird' and 'Cold' from her brilliant 1992 album 'Diva' and on the covers 'No More I Love You's' and 'Waiting In Vain' from her 1995 album 'Medusa'. An acoustic piano was wheeled out for Lennox to play the Eurythmics hit 'Here Comes the Rain Again', and she finished her set with 'Walking On Broken Glass' from Diva and two of her former band's tunes, 'Missionary Man' and 'I Need A Man'. Her encore of 'Sweet Dreams' and the elegant ballad 'Why' capped a 55-minute set.

Sting hit the stage with his own five-piece band (with the singer handling most of the bass playing himself) and immediately launched into a funky 'Send Your Love' from last year's 'Sacred Love' album. Though his solo music can sometimes be stiff and ponderous, he checked all that at the door and opted for grooves and rhythm.

The main difference in the two singers was the sound and textures from their respective bands. Lennox had three keyboard players with the usual guitar, bass and drums, and created a thinly layered synthesizer veneer. Sting's band was a tight complex unit, featuring featured percussion, drums, the jazz-based pianist Jason Rebello and long-time guitarist Miller, who added a surprisingly gritty edge.

Smiling and dancing loosely across the stage, he led his band through strong versions of the Police's 'Synchronicity II' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. Sting then thrilled the crowd by bringing Lennox out for spirited duet on 'We'll Be Together', which included the two doing a serviceable version of the old funk dance 'The Bump' during the song's break.

Sting then moved through several of his better-known solo tunes - 'Seven Days', 'Fragile', 'Englishman In New York' and 'Fields of Gold' - before telling the crowd, ''I hope you're feeling sexy, because I am. Here's a song about religion and Victoria's Secret.'' He launched into a languorous version of 'Sacred Love', complete with suggestive softcore images projected on the artfully shifting video screens behind him.

He brought out backup singer Joy Rose for an extended, incendiary treatment of 'Whenever I Say Your Name' and closed with a noodling 'Roxanne'. He returned for a three-song encore which included 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'A Thousand Years'.

Sting's performance was a solid sampling from one of rock music's premier careers, and he seemed pretty comfortable with the entire range of it.

(c) The Sacramento Bee by Marcus Crowder