Sting: My Songs Tour

Hollywood, FL, US
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

 Sting Performed at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL...

Sting returned to South Florida this past Sunday, May 22nd, performing at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL as part of his world tour “ My Songs” and as expected, the show was a sell-out.

The musician, singer, actor and songwriter turned 70 last year, but no one could ever tell. Wearing black leather pants and a fitted black jacket, his discerning style and rock-star appeal is effortless, much like the quality of his voice. Physically and musically lean, it is impressive how harmonious and in-tune his voice has remained after all these years. His unique artistry and distinguished song-writing skills has been unmatched. No one sounds quite like Sting.

Sharing the stage with seven other talented musicians, including two vocalists, he delivered unique duet performances, including “Shape of My Heart” with the talented vocalist Gene Noble and “Brand New Day” with the young Shane Sage on harmonica, who apparently at some point quit college to join Sting on tour.

Conversing enthusiastically with the audience, Sting mentioned an occasion in 1978 while waking up at a hotel room one morning, dosing off in bed: “I am woken by the sound of a window cleaner whistling something that I recognized. It takes me a few bars but I realized he is whistling “Roxane”…so… Working people are getting through their day by whistling your song”. For a musician, no doubt such experience is one to remember.

He opened the show with “Message in the Bottle” followed by popular hits as “English Man in New York” and “Set Them Free”. It didn’t take long for fans to join in and engage. No doubt, “Desert Rose” was one of the highlights with its own seductive instrumental vibe and mystical vocal sounds.

The stage was simple, but carefully and strategically well-thought-out with lighting effects and beams of colors directed at the audience. It felt warm and cozy at times.

As he mentioned in previous performances, Sting continues to proclaim his passion for country music; “In England I had two ambitions, one was to be a musician…I must have dreamed that real hard because here I am…the second ambition was even more unlikely to happen because I wanted to be a cowboy, I was obsessed by TV westerns. Now I am going to do a little testing to see the age of this audience”. He then proceeded to mention a few of his favorite western/country legends before performing a country version of “I am so Happy I can’t Stop Crying”.

Joe Sumner, a.k.a Stings’ son, opened the show “solo” performing a few of his own songs and later returned to the stage to perform “Driven to Tears” for a father-son duet.

Sting finished the evening by saying: “it’s my custom to finish the evening with something quiet and social, so you can go home quiet and social”. He sat at the edge of the stage and performed a solo acoustic version of “The Bridge” from his studio album titled the same.

Sting continues to be “one of the favorites” in South Florida and it showed!

(c) Boca Raton Tribune by Rosa Cavalcanti

Sting at Hard Rock Live...

Sting, evidently, admires a certain aura about Florida. Looking across the crowd at Sunday night’s performance at Hard Rock Live, he noted that “everybody looks like they just had sex.” Perhaps this is just pre-written banter he trots out at every show to massage our egos, but I can’t see it playing in, say, Iowa and Wyoming with the same authenticity. I’d prefer to think the famously vigorous hit-maker sees something special about audiences in the endless-vacation state, a feeling that was no doubt mutual during his mostly absorbing 100-minute-or-so performance, his first public show in South Florida since 2019.

Following a short opening set by his son, accomplished guitarist Joe Sumner - whose earnest songs of love and loss are cut, though not as infectiously, from his father’s cloth - Sting appeared promptly with five musicians and a pair of backup singer-dancers for a tight and explorative set of more than 40 years’ worth of material. An improbably fit septuagenarian, Sting’s voice hasn’t aged a millisecond, as immediately evident on Police pop nuggets like “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” riveting solo cuts such as “An Englishman in New York,” and the evocative favorite “Fields of Gold.”

A projection screen positioned horizontally above the stage ran video and graphics pertinent to the songs’ atmospheres - typewriter keys and crashing waves for “Message in a Bottle”; dice, chips and cards for the gambling-themed “Shape of My Heart” - while the carefully tailored lighting rig splashed crisscrossing beams, often blue, gold or red (the latter an obvious if potent fixture on “Roxanne”) over the sold-out crowd.

The structure of Sting’s set list was that of an upside-down bell curve, with a flurry of hits at the top, a parade of favorites at the end, and a rather sagging middle comprised of deep cuts and new selections from his 2021 release The Bridge, written during quarantine. “I’m going to play some new songs; I’m sorry,” he said, perhaps tongue-in-cheekily but sort of accurately, as this mostly unfamiliar segment of the show allowed many to refresh their drinks and empty their bladders.

The best tune in this mini-set, “If It’s Love,” featured a whistled intro and inviting, handclap percussion; the weakest, “For Her Love,” seemed to die on the vine. I could have done without “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying,” one of the singer’s ill-fated dalliances with country music, though at least “I Hung My Head,” another western-tinged composition, conjured one of Bob Dylan’s ‘80s-era story-songs.

And then it was off to the races, as Sting and his top-shelf musicians performed a string of hits as formidable as any modern songwriter’s discography, from the swaggering, shimmering “Brand New Day” to a particularly lush rendition of “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” with virtual candle flames flickering on the projection screen.

Having long ascended from new-wave rebel to adult-contemporary institution, Sting has spongily absorbed at least a half-dozen disparate and far-flung genres, all of which came to the fore during the concert’s most thrilling moments: the blue-eyed soul of “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” the North African mantra “Desert Rain,” the jaunty reggae of “Walking on the Moon,” the stomping blues of “She’s Too Good For Me.”

In one of the show’s most communal sing-alongs, “So Lonely” included a snippet of the Jamaican classic “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” while “King of Pain” sent us off with an anthemic, Springsteen-esque rock outro. “Roxanne” even featured a gospel call-and-response and a swing-music nod to Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

Sting left us with an unorthodox pseudo-encore - not a typical roof-raiser but the singer’s two-and-a-half-minute acoustic ballad “The Bridge,” performed solo to the glow of many a cell phone camera. It was a chance to exhale and decompress, heading to our cars or, if we were feeling lucky, to the tables and slots, in a state of zen.

(c) Boca by John Thomason