Sacred Love

Tampa, FL, US
Ford Amphitheatrewith Dominic Miller & Annie Lennox
Sting, Lennox Wow With Old Favorites...

Like many travelers, Annie Lennox and Sting canceled their Florida trek in September when a series of hurricanes threatened to turn this into an island state.

The weather was more hospitable Friday night as the pair made up the postponed Sept. 9 show. A clear and cool evening created the ideal setting for the outdoor concert, which drew about 15,000 fans to the Ford Amphitheatre.

The postponement also made Friday the final date on the three-month tour.

Say this much for co-headlining tours: There's no time for mucking about. Shorter set times mean no indulgent solos or overgenerous doses of new and unfamiliar material.

Lennox's well-honed stage presence was evident in both her long-limbed moves and in more subtle ways, such as the facial expressions she used to make 'No More ''I Love You's' come alive. She performed 'Here Comes the Rain Again' solo on piano.

She strutted through the bombastic rock of 'Missionary Man' and 'I Need a Man' before closing with the tender pathos of 'Why'.

Sting revisited his Police days early on with 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Synchronicity II', saving an extended 'Roxanne' for later.

Sting mixed tracks from 2003's 'Sacred Love' CD with older favorites. Pianist Jason Rebello was the band's standout soloist, jazzing up 'Never Coming Home' and 'Englishman in New York'.

'Fields of Gold', was a crowd favorite which inspired some couples to slow dance.

Sting's guitarist, Dominic Miller, opened the evening with some lovely solo guitar that displayed touches of jazz, classical, folk and flamenco.

His boss joined him for the final song, singing 'Shape of My Heart'.

(c) Tampa Tribune by Curtis Ross

Dynamic duo...

The joke is this: Why are Sting and Annie Lennox a perfect pair to headline a tour together?

The punch line: Because, let's face it, they're pretty hard to tell apart.

Not convinced? Come on. Once a post-punk pop star turned VH-1 adult contemporary hitmaker.

Need more? British. Pale. Lean. Short blond hair. Given to occasional, semiplausible forays into jazz and rhythm and blues.

Whom are we describing? Not sure?


Which is why Friday's show at the Ford Amphitheatre, postponed from a date in early September, turned out a bit of a conundrum. Because the former Police lead singer and former Eurythmics headliner turned out to be quite a bit different, perhaps due to live experience.

See, Sting tours a lot. He can stay out on the road for months, even years at a time. Chalk it up to that Tantric deal. Lennox, however, rarely appears live. And that's why, obviously, one performer came off better Friday. And that performer, of course, was Lennox.

Her set wasn't much more than half that of Sting's, but excluding a couple of brief sluggish stretches, Lennox put on a potent performance that proved she still is relevant and robust.

For one, her powerful alto was in as fine form as ever, soulful and cutting on 'No More 'I Love You's', bracing and biting on the touching 'Cold' and crushing on the rockers 'Missionary Man' and 'I Need a Man', and kicking off a brief encore, a blistering rendition of the Eurythmics' first hit single, 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)'.

Sting followed, though it was his second appearance onstage. Earlier he had joined opener Dominic Miller for their co-written 'Shape of My Heart'.

Not a bad tune, but I liked it better the first time as the 'Fragile'. Sting played that later in his set, rendering 'Heart' redundant, but the performance did offer an early preview his new, which is to say old, hairstyle.

Apparently Sting forgot that his hairline has receded to somewhere near the small of his back and has grown what remains. Now he looks way too reminiscent of Queer Eye's Carson Kressley for anyone's good.

Sting's show never seemed to get off the ground, though he got a huge boost from Lennox's return to duet on 'We'll Be Together', and 'Englishman in New York' sounded fresh and peppy as ever.

But Police classics such as 'Synchronicity II' and 'Roxanne' sounded forced and tired, and overwrought visuals on too many projection screens made the ''eyeballs ache'' line in the former all too apropos. His best move - letting backup singer Joy Rose grab the limelight on the duet 'Whenever I Say Your' Name was another highlight in a mercurial set that frustrated as often as it entertained.

(c) The St Petersburg Times by Rick Gershman