Sacred Love

Boston, MA, US
Orpheum Theatrewith Chris Botti
Sting finds his comfort zone to the delight of Orpheum crowd...

There isn't a classier pop star than Sting. Or a cannier one. He's bridged the gap between youth and adulthood for a generation of fans who have grown up and grown comfortable right along with him. The rough-and-tumble economy of the Police is a fond memory, replaced by a buffed fusion of jazz and world music. The singer's vigorous honk has mellowed into a warm hush. The sly young fox is now an impeccable gentleman whose main currency is attractive chords and effortless virtuosity.

At the Orpheum last night, Sting opened with a smooth bebop read of Walkin' on the Moon', which segued into a beautifully manicured take on 'Send Your Love', followed in easy stride by 'Inside', 'Forget About the Future', and 'Dead Man's Rope'. All were pristinely packaged in glorious washes of gold and green light, sensuous dancing silhouettes projected onto a trio of massive video screens, and carefully hand-crafted textures unpocked by a spontaneous emotion or unplanned note. Suffice it to say when 'Synchronicity II' rolled around, it was about time. One reflexively gazed heavenward in silent thanks that Sting's fabulously capable seven-piece band didn't jazz it up or strip it down or shift into some impossibly impressive meter, but rather just let themselves sound like a big fat graduate-level version of the Police.

Joy Rose, one of two backup singers, joined Sting center stage for a rousing duet on 'Whenever I Say Your Name', last year's Grammy-winning collaboration with Mary J. Blige. Rose's unhinged vocals slapped the proceedings with a hit of blunt soul, which was otherwise supplied via body parts on the video screens. Yoga-toned torsos substituted for religious symbols in the gorgeous video tableaus that accompanied, and occasionally distracted from, the music.

Sipping tea and chatting easily, Sting charmed the packed house, which finally rose to its feet when the frontman pretended to put his credibility on the line. ''Call me shallow, but I need to see more sexy women dancing,'' he pleaded during the opening bars of 'Sacred Love', the title track from his latest release, which dominated the two-hour set. They were happy to stay standing for the plucky 'An Englishman in New York' and 'Roxanne' - a disappointingly measured jam that peaked in an endless call-and-response of ''Roxanne - O!'' It was a base and evocative song, too gracefully rendered.

Sting's gifted trumpet player, Chris Botti, opened with a quiet storm of adult contemporary sounds: clean, pastel musings on a theme of easy elegance.

(c) The Boston Globe by Joan Anderman

Never stingy, Sting hits stride with well-oiled Orpheum jaunt...

People like to give Sting a hard time, even people who love his music, for a lot of reasons. But chief among them may be that his perceived arrogance is so well-grounded in truly superlative skill. It's sometimes hard to resist taking a few jabs at someone so gifted and so aware of those gifts.

Last night at the Orpheum Theatre, in the first of two sold-out shows, the erstwhile Gordon Sumner was, typically, superb and he proved that he may be Sting, but he certainly isn't stingy.

In an expansive show - enhanced by first-rate sound and three large video screens - Sting played for more than two hours and graciously spotlighted most of the members of his marvelous backing band. While the setlist may have been weighted too heavily to his latest album 'Sacred Love' for the taste of some - he played 10 of its 11 tracks, which was probably four too many with so much superior solo back catalog - the majority of the boisterous crowd seemed taken with the new material.

There was the world-beat disco of 'Send Your Love', the lightly funky Southern soul of 'Sacred Love' and the easy warmth of the r & b-inflected 'Whenever I Say Your Name', which got a huge lift from backing vocalist Joy Rose. Subbing for the album's Mary J. Blige, Rose rose the roof with her impassioned testifying and earned a standing ovation for her estimable efforts.

Some of the night's loudest cheers did come, however, for the Police and early solo songs sprinkled throughout the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's well-paced set.

The 52-year-old Newcastle native opened the show plucking an upright bass on a jazzy run through 'Walking On the Moon'. 'Synchronicity II' crackled with energy and propelled the dancers in the crowd to its feet with its caffeinated groove. An encore of 'Every Breath You Take' was perfunctory as ever, ditto for 'Roxanne'.

Much more invigorating were the spidery guitar licks of the delicate 'Fragile', the caressing 'Fields of Gold', a jaunty take on 'Englishman in New York' and the swirling, mesmeric 'Desert Rose'.

While some of the songs were occasionally less than riveting - 'Inside' was a particularly monotonous example of the repetitive, list-happy lyrics that dominate 'Sacred Love' - they were never less than impeccably played or sounded less than lovely. In short, there was very little to jab at indeed.

(c) The Boston Herald by Sarah Rodman