Nothing Like The Sun

Williamsburg, VA, US
William & Mary Hall
Sting makes; keeps promise and delivers to W&M Hall crowd...

Nobody should be as tall, blond, good-looking and talented as Sting.

In a two-hour concert that delivered as much as he promised when he said ''Tonight's show is going to be a little long,'' Sting and band enthralled a sold-out crowd at William and Mary Hall here last night.

It was all, as little droog Alex from ''A Clockwork Orange'' would say, ''gorgeousness and gorgeosity'' with only a few spots that dragged on the often samey midtempo songs that fill Mr. Sumner's new album.

It's amazing what a live show can do for recorded material. Nothing sounded stale. Early in this 'Nothing Like the Sun' tour (the title is from Shakespeare, clod), the band is having a ball.

Sting, in white linen jacket and no shirt, led off with 'Lazarus Heart' and 'We'll Be Together'. The show relied little on show and a lot on musicianship, although Sting knows the impression he makes.

Yes, being a well-dressed rock star. He loves it, he does. He climbed to the top of backstage risers and sat down. He waved. He waggled his fingers in a come-on to encourage more applause. He conducted the band. He presented beautiful profiles. He talked to the audience.

Besides charm and a voice that flies, Sting has the musical sense to pick excellent musicians for these orchestrally fat forays to the public:

Tracy Wormworth, bass; Branford Marsalis, saxophone; Kenny Kirkland, keyboards; Delmar Brown, keyboards; Jeff Campbell, guitar; Mino Cinelu, percussion; and Smitty Smith, drums.

Kirkland and Marsalis, the only two holdovers from the last tour, led the flawless band through Sting's most recent compositions and gave life to the mostly stiff and lifeless album. The concert was full of surprises and bursts of instrumentation, spots of musical influences from jazz to popular song, and it was propelled by Cinelu's seductive and musical percussion.

'Englishman in New York', a theatrical little ditty that shows Sting's best songwriting abilities, segued into 'Sister Moon', which was languid. Not even languidness can shut up a rock crowd.

For 'Straight to My Heart', the former schoolteacher explained 7/4 time to his audience, and the band delivered it precisely. Kirkland had a great time. Marsalis was busy making bullfight music on soprano sax.

'Consider Me Gone' had keyboardist Brown, whose voice is surprisingly like Sting's, double-time scat singing his own high synthesizer notes. Brown was a dreadlocked jack-in-the-box. When he wasn't marching at the keyboard, he was popping up and down with glee.

Guitarist Campbell put wah-wah pedal on 'History Will Teach Us Nothing'. 'Rock Steady' was a nice bluesy tune about Noah. The reggae 'One World is Enough' walked into rock and ended in an exuberant twist. One of the prettiest songs, 'Fragile' led - with acoustic guitar by Sting - into Gil Evans' arrangement of 'Little Wing'. Campbell's Hendrix-like guitar reached and didn't make it, though.

Slow spots had songs leading into overextended instrumentals. 'They Dance Alone', an anthem to the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of Argentinian political desaparecidos, would have had more tingle if it hadn't led the second set. 'Still My Beating Heart' was boring except for the funky chorus.

After two sets, Sting asked the crowd what they wanted for an encore. ''ROXANNE!'' shouted 10,000 voices. ''No, I don't do that one anymore.'' But he did.

Encores brought 'Fortress Around Your Heart' and 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', during which Sting took his jacket off and revealed the best arms in rock'n'roll. 'The Secret Marriage' and 'Message in a Bottle' ended the show.

Sting has loosened up and gone shopping. He had a world of musical ideas on his shopping list.

(c) The Richmond Times-Dispatch by Harriet McLeod