Nothing Like The Sun

Cleveland, OH, US
Public Hall
Sting proves he can walk the rock beat alone...

Some folks will tell you that Sting is just another pretty face. But don't you believe them.

In the first place, there's nothing particularly pretty about this wiry, straw-haired, Malcolm McDowell look-alike.

And even if there were, the little Brit (Newcastle) packs enough wallop as a performer that it could easily go unnoticed, anyway.

Although best-known as a third of Police - the now-dormant (but supposedly still-intact) supergroup that was packing stadiums around the globe but a few short years ago - Sting (nee Gordon Sumner) has built a formidable reputation as an actor (the theater films Brimstone and Treacle, Dune, The Bride and Plenty) and solo musician, in his own right.

It was in the latter capacity that he greeted the 8,622 who showed up Wednesday, for his session at Public Hall in Cleveland.

And with few exceptions, he didn't disappoint.

Surrounded by a terrific, hand-picked ensemble that included keyboardists Kenny Kirkland and Delmar Brown, saxophonist Steve Coleman, guitarist Jeff Campbell, bassist Tracy Wormworth, percussionist Mino Cenelu and drummer Marvin Smith, Sting assembled a hard-hitting, nearly two-hour program that featured elements of jazz, rock, reggae and blues woven into a distinctive and appealing blend that has come to characterize his work.

Material from his debut solo album, 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles' and current '...Nothing Like the Sun' album - including the hit single 'We'll Be Together' - provided a showcase for Sting's music, as well as his understated showmanship.

Bare-chested in a sport coat and black satin slacks - complete with a red stripe on each leg - he strutted his stuff with poise and charisma.

During a raucous 'One World', he even enlisted a couple members of the band to join him in a cha-cha line that toured the multilevel set and culminated in high-fives and somersaults.

During 'If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free', he just basked in the crowd's appreciation.

After a 20-minute intermission, Sting returned in a lavender sport coat that sort of set the mood for a moody, but somewhat more subdued second half that included particularly stirring versions of the old Police-beat staples, 'Roxanne' and 'Message in a Bottle'.

Now if he could just get friends to stop calling him Stingy.

(c) The Akron Beacon Journal by Mark Faris

Solo Sting satisfies Cleveland...

Sting has the world by the tail.

His post-Police solo music career has hit a lucrative peak with his recent album '...Nothing Like the Sun'. He's in four new movies: 'Stormy Monday'; 'Julia, Julia'; 'Baron Munchausen'; and 'The Passion'. And his world concert tour, which made a stop in Cleveland Wednesday night, is one of the most satisfying pop music events on the road.

You don't realize how many good songs Sting has until you hear him plow through a 19-song, two-hour live set. Besides owning matinee idol bone structure, Sting has plenty of musical substance. The shaggy-haired singer opened with a lengthy 'Lazarus Heart' from the new album and followed it with a funky 'We'll Be Together'.

His seven-piece band sounded marvelous: Branford Marsalis, sax; Kenny Kirkland, keys; Tracy Wormworth, bass; Mino Cinelu, percussion; Jeff Campbell, guitar; Jean-Paul Ceccarelli, drums; and Delmar Brown, keys. They were hot and capable of percolating rock, jazz and dance music, all of which Sting incorporates into his music. But the jazz sense he has found since leaving the Police, a reggae-dominated band, is the most attractive and pleasurable part of his new material.

Sting and company glided nicely into the cool, thoughtfully slow be-bop ballad of 'Sister Moon'. The song evoked images of a rainy nighttime urban scene. Dressed like a Gentlemen's Quarterly model, Sting looked the part of a hep cat in baggy trousers and loose jacket with no shirt underneath.

Lush and jazzy chords distinguished 'Consider Me Gone' as the music went through numerous subtle changes. Marsalis' improvisations were the most notable.

But what got the crowd going, quite rightfully, were Sting's highly danceable pop hits: a thumping 'Rock Steady'; a groove-heavy 'One World'; 'Set Them Free'; and several more.

Sting showed other sides besides his sophisticated jazz-rock leanings and appealing commercial pop instincts.

He's real about love. The warlike imagery of 'Fortress Around Your Heart' deals with his divorce from actress Frances Tomelty.

Politics, too, are important to Sting. He wrote the beautifully moody 'They Dance Alone' after talking with former political prisoners he met during Amnesty International's Conspiracy of Hope tour with U2.

'Fragile', a song about terrorist violence, carried a slow, heavy sadness.

Some critics accuse Sting of iciness, but he seemed plenty warm. He strutted, danced, mugged and mimed throughout much of the show. A few more highlights: an incredible 'Little Wing', the Jimi Hendrix song; 'Roxanne'; 'The Secret Marriage'; 'Message In A Bottle'; 'Be Still My Beating Heart'; and 'Englishman In New York'.

(c) The Colombus Dispatch by John Petric