Sting 3.0

Nottinghamshire, GB
Sherwood Pines

Sting shines at Sherwood Pines...

It’s been 41 years since Sting last performed in the area. The Police were quite possibly the biggest band in the world when they visited the Royal Centre during their Synchronicity tour in December 1983, writes Dave Lawrence.

Now their frontman, and one of the world’s most successful solo artists, was back, again as part of a trio, when he performed at the last night of the Forest Live shows at Sherwood Pines.

On a beautiful summer’s afternoon, the show had opened with Canadian artist Storry and a trio of Australian sisters – Georgia, Ella and Clara – called Germein. Their sunny set of songs was a perfect match to the weather and the trio later received warm applause as they walked to the sound desk to watch the headliner’s set.

Sting’s latest tour is entitled Sting 3.0 and sees him reverting to a power trio of himself, long-time guitarist Dominic Miller and former Mumford and Sons drummer Chris Maas. It’s an exciting format and gives Sting the chance to strip back his songs to just three instruments, and it certainly worked.

Taking the stage to a brief intro of the Police song Voices Inside My Head, the band quickly broke into the famous opening chords of Message in a Bottle, its instantly recognisable guitar riff played note perfectly by Miller.

During the second number, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Sting sang of the many people and institutions he had lost faith in before turning and pointing to the crowd and singing “If I ever lose my faith in you / There’d be nothing left for me to do”.

It was noticeable also that when he sang the line “You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians / They all seemed like game show hosts to me” plenty of cheering could be heard.

It became apparent very quickly, after triumphant versions of Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Englishman in New York and Fields of Gold that Sting’s well of great songs runs very deep.

This was his third Forest Live show of the summer and all had been blessed with good weather. As he looked out at the sun-baked audience he told them, “You know, I’ve been all around the world and on a day like to today when the sun is shining and everything is green, there is no finer place in the world.”

A run of three lesser known numbers followed – Never Coming Home and two songs from 1991’s Soul Cages album, the lovely Mad About You and Why Should I Cry For You?, a song Sting dedicated to his father. “My dad used to tell me to go to sea and make something of myself. Of course I didn’t and disappointed him,” he told us.

A hundred million records sold and seventeen Grammy Awards suggests things didn’t turn too badly for the former teacher.

The band, who sounded terrific and as if they’d been performing together for years and not less than a month, gave us a stirring version of Driven To Tears the theme of the song still resonating more than forty years after it was written – “Too many cameras and not enough food” and “Protest is futile, nothing seems to get through”.

A high spot for me personally was the old Police number Can’t Stand Losing You, the Police song that first registered with me which I saw performed live many years on the Old Grey Whistle Test. Now slowed down and with a different arrangement it was a joy to hear.

The rest of the evening sped by in a blur of classic songs, many of them Police numbers. Walking On The Moon, So Lonely, Desert Rose, King of Pain and finally Every Breath You Take – now the most played song in radio history.

Returning for an encore, Sting teased us with “My problem is I have no idea what song you want to hear…” Miller duly hit the opening chords of Roxanne and the stage became a blaze of red light as thousands of people accompanied Sting as he sang about putting on the red light.

Finally, Sting closed the evening in contemplative fashion with Fragile, perched on a stool playing acoustic guitar.

As he took his farewell, he said “We’ll see you again”. Let’s hope so. There are plenty of forests in the country that would love to host a concert of this quality even if few are as famous as Sherwood.

(c) Mansfield, Ashfield & Sherwood News Journal by Dave Lawrence