Solo Sting plays King-Bee role well...
As frontman for the British pop trio Police, Sting could be an aloof figure on stage. But that has changed. In the space of two albums of new solo material, Sting has blossomed into the consummate all-rounder. The abundance of musical and philosophical ideas in those two solo albums, 'The Dream of the Blues Turtles' and 'Nothing Like the Sun', was balanced at this show by a stage act as stimulating physically as the songs are intellectually.
Part of that was due to the support Sting received from his eight-piece band. With instrumentalists of the caliber of sax player Branford Marsalis, it was hard to go far wrong. In addition to some stunning instrumental virtuosity, there was also an obvious empathy between the performers that went beyond music, extending to choreography.
What was most striking, though, was the confidence with which Sting projected his personality. In his gestures and grimaces there was an easygoing wit and entertaining flair, so that, with his lank blond hair frequently flapping over his eyes, at times he resembled a thinking man's Dave Lee Roth.
To no one's surprise, the concert began with current material. The 'Lazarus Heart' came first, and there were no significant diversions from 'Nothing Like the Sun' tracks until a Police song, 'Murder By Numbers'.
Sting announced that Jimmy Swaggart once said this song had been written by ''sons of Satan,'' and then - egged on by a supportive crowd - could not resist a couple of lighthearted digs at the disgraced evangelist.
Had it not been for his initial Police image as a pinup boy in a band with a novel style, Sting's intellectual influence may not have amounted to much. But, to give him credit, Sting has not rested on his laurels.
The thirst for musical fusion and philosophical point-making that began to be seen in Police has become obsessive. As Sting eased himself into the role of soloist a few years ago, it seemed a strident step at first.
But 'Nothing Like the Sun' is as thought-provoking - if not as influential - as any album since the heyday of the Beatles and Bob Dylan.
(c) The Arizona Republic by Andrew Means