Broken Music

Wilkes Barre, PA, US
Wachovia Arenawith Fiction Plane
Sting's 'Broken Music Tour' makes stop at Wachovia Arena...

The rock superstar we have affectionately come to know as Sting is following a path like many before him have traveled. Paul McCartney, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones are a few that come to mind.

So far, pretty impressive company, right? Well to the delight of the 4,000 fans on hand for the 'Broken Music Tour' Tuesday evening at Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza, Sting dusted off some classics and reached into his extensive library of musical compositions to resurrect some real chestnuts.

Yes, Sting seems to have either come to reconciliation with the memory of his days with the Police or the material simply isn't old or mundane to him. Not that his foray into the stream of esoteric jazzy-pop wasn't creative or even significant, but his fans will always know him bets for his days alongside Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.

Sting wasn't apologetic Tuesday night but instead, he left his music do the talking. And talk it did. 'Roxanne', 'Demolition Man', 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II' sounded magnificent. Pop's tunesmith that helped usher in the 'new wave' of music in the late 1970s, early 1980s had his 'A' game on at Tuesday's concert.

The emphasis for 'Broken Music' was not on special effects, jumbo video screens or technical wizardry but rather effective, straight ahead catchy pop-rock songs crafted by one of music's most gifted architects. Sting's ringing voice and accompanying reggae flavored groove make songs melt in your soul. Whether it was the preachy 'If I Ever Lose My Faith' or 'Heavy Cloud, No Rain', the audience got aboard for every note and chorus.

For most of the evening, Sting offered up the sophisticated, catchy-pop that help bring the Police all the way from New Castle, England to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. And he surrounded himself with a great backing band seeming to try to re-capture the magic of Summers & Copeland without the accompanying baggage it could bring. Remember, it wasn't a very amicable split folks.

Drummer Josh Freese (from A Perfect Circle & DEVO), along with Shayne Fontayne (Bruce Springsteen's band), and Sting's long time compatriot Dominic Miller, simply sizzled behind Sting all of the evening through. Sting wanted to make a statement with the playlist and backing musicians and made a very strong one at that.

The 54-year-old dashing rock tunesmith never left Tuesday evening's performance drag. If Sting would slow the tempo a bit like his stirring rendition of Johnny Cash's 'Hung My Head', he then would come back strongly with a frenetic Police song like Zenyatta Mondatta's 'Driven To Tears' or vary tempo even greater with Ghost In The Machine's 'Spirits In The Material World.'

If you haven't seen Sting in a while or maybe became uninterested in his soundscape album projects, this was the show not to miss.

The Broken Music tour is inappropriately named. In this case, there's not a thing wrong so don't even think about trying to fix it!

(c) Citizen's Voice by Alexander Choman

Recalling 'Police' days, Sting in top form...

Since he disbanded The Police 20 years ago, Sting has greatly grown as a songwriter and musician, and has expanded his music to include elements of jazz, classical, funk, reggae and Latin sounds. It's been a musical journey that has served him well, and has resulted in an impressive catalogue of post-Police solo material.

On Tuesday, however, Sting purged himself of just about all of that musical experimentation. And before a receptive and attentive crowd of 6,000 at the Wachovia Arena, he returned to his edgy rock n' roll roots in remarkable fashion. His stripped-down show, which featured just himself on bass and vocals, plus two guitarists and a drummer, was his most basic and most Police-like show in two decades, and when he opened the set with a string of Police gems such as 'Message In A Bottle,' 'Demolition Man,' 'Spirits In The Material World' and 'Synchronicity II,' it was clear that the man had come to rock the house.

'It's great to be back in Wilkes-Barre,' said Sting early in the set, which acknowledged several prior visits to the region and instantly established a connection with the crowd. His voice, at 53, was always on target and carried the same sense of command that it did 20 years ago, and his band was marvelously tight and always in the pocket.

(No surprise there. Sting, perhaps more than anything, is known for his demanding expectations for musical perfection. A bad note at one of his shows is about as common as catching a music video on MTV.)

Sting's grounded demeanor and disposition combined with his undeniable charisma also connected with the crowd. He spoke of how flattering it was to have one of his songs, 'I Hung My Head,' be recorded by the late Johnny Cash, and he also led the band through a breezy rendition of 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You.' He later dusted off and shined up a rhythmic and jammy rendition of The Police's 'Driven To Tears.'

It was fabulous.

More Police favorites? How about 'Invisible Sun,' sung in an even more deliberate fashion than the album version, or 'King of Pain,' or a clever and fiery mix of 'Voices Inside My Head' and 'When The World Is Running Down You Make The Best Of What's Still Around?' He played them all, as well as an inventive rendition of 'Roxanne' and a rocked-up performance of 'Every Breath You Take.'

Solo material? A terrific performance of 'Fields of Gold.'

A surprise? A stunning cover of The Beatles' 'A Day In The Life.'

''Tonight, I'm going to be singing a lot of songs I haven't sung in many years,'' said Sting at the beginning of the show.

He did.

And that - and the pure sense of energy that came from playing with a simple rock band - made his third visit to the region his best.

(c) Wilkes Barre Times Leader by Alan K. Stout