Sting, Sheryl Crow team for charity...
It took a while for One Night Live to come to life at the Air Canada Centre Thursday night, but eventually it got there thanks to Sting and Sheryl Crow.
The benefit concert, now in its second year and assisting the Women and Babies Program at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, featured Sting, Crow and the Canadian Tenors in this "once in a lifetime concert experience" which ended up raising over two million.
And while there were hoots and hollers for host Chris Noth (Law & Order, Sex And The City), Sting's 90-minute set of hits had a large share of the near-capacity crowd loosening up.
With a seasoned three-piece cast of musicians behind him, Sting weaved a decent mixture of material from his own albums alongside those from The Police starting with 'Message In A Bottle' with the audience up and dancing in the front.
Mentioning how the charity contained two of his favorite things in women and babies, the 57-year-old singer kept the flow with the groovier '(Prologue) If I Ever Lose My Faith' In You from 1993's 'Ten Summoner's Tales' album. It's an album he would return to a few more times with the lighter, thoughtful 'Fields Of Gold' and 'Shape Of My Heart', both featuring some nifty guitar work from Dominic Miller.
Content to play his bass and occasionally venture into his jazzier side, Sting was at his best when The Police signatures came to the fore, especially 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', the reggae-saturated 'Walking On The Moon' and 'Synchronicity II' with Sting belting out the lines as he did back in 1983.
Perhaps the only real miss, aside from the Middle Eastern-inspired dance-infused 'Desert Rose' was the pedestrian pace of 'Seven Days' which seemed to fall off the rails quickly. Yet he finished strong with some great musicianship and chemistry on 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take'.
Not to be outdone despite playing roughly half as long, Sheryl Crow strung together a strong series of her earlier, Stones-y hits such as 'My Favorite Mistake' and 'If It Makes You Happy' with guitarist Pete Stroud fleshing each country-rock nugget out.
Crow, who mentioned she was Michael Jackson's backup singer at one time, also worked in a bit of the Jimmy Cliff tune 'I Can See Clearly Now' into 'Can't Cry Anymore'. But following 'Strong Enough', which had her considering looking around Canada for a new man after "tapping out" the men Stateside, Crow and crew delivered the party-flavoured 'All I Wanna Do' which ended up energizing the crowd.
From there the five-piece thankfully avoided 'Steve McQueen' and 'There Goes The Neighborhood', opting for the summery 'Soak Up The Sun' and 'Everyday Is A Winding Road' as Crow, sans guitar, strutted her stuff somewhat.
The Canadian Tenors, or Il Canucko as they could be dubbed, opened with 30 minutes of opera/pop material, covering Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and 'Because We Believe' while mentioning how they met Sarah McLachlan backstage. The quartet can certainly sing, but any longer might have been trying to most in attendance.
(c) The Toronto Sun by Jason Macneil