Ever since concluding his big bucks reunion tour with The Police a few years back, it’s been back to business as usual for Sting. Which, on his current tour, means it has also been “Back To Bass.”
Sting is currently touring in support of his 25 Years retrospective boxed set, performing a hits-heavy set mainly in theaters and small venues with a relatively stripped down five piece band. During the first show of a two night stand at Seattle’s Paramount Theater (on a freezing cold Monday night, no less), Sting and his band warmed up the crowd of adoring, mostly older fans with an energetic, well balanced two hour set drawing equally from both his solo work, and his back catalog with the Police.
Of course, this is Sting we are talking about here. Which meant that his “stripped down” band, still included two guitarists and a miniature string section (specifically, violin and fiddle).
The newer live arrangements of vintage Police songs like “Every Breath You Take,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Next To You,” while certainly not lacking anything in the energy department, likewise tended more towards an adult-contemporary feel, than his classic eighties period as New Wave’s favorite blond cop.
No matter though. With the help of a band that was nothing short of amazing, Sting and company still managed to turn the heat up enough on Seattle’s wine and cheese crowd to make them forget the cold outside.
Fiddle player Peter Tickell turned in a couple of particularly jaw-dropping solos, and also re-created the soprano sax parts on songs like “Fortress Around Your Heart” perfectly, with help from Jo Lawry on violin (who also displayed her gorgeous five-octave range on backing vocals). The father-son guitar tandem of Dominic and Rufus Miller likewise had some fine moments (including a couple of cool solos from Dominic using a wah-wah pedal). Monster drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, a recent veteran of Jeff Beck’s band, was a dead ringer for Stewart Copeland on the Police songs.
Sting himself often gets a sometimes deserved, but just as often unfair rap for pretentiousness, mostly because of his genre forays into everything from celtic to classical as a solo artist. At the Paramount, Sting was the antithesis of the stuffy performer he is often made out to be, engaging the audience with a humorous sing-along on the ready made for Seattle “Heavy Cloud, No Rain,” and name dropping Toby Keith’s cover of his country themed divorce song “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying,” while adding a disclaimer about Keith’s politics.
Sting was likewise in fine voice, showing no signs of his age on vocals, and hitting all the right notes on his signature bass. By the end of the night, Sting had the crowd eating from the palm of his hand, sending them warmly singing their “Whoah-oh’s” into the cold Seattle night with an acoustic version of the Police’s “Message In A Bottle.”