Last Best Show: Sting at the Pavilion...
Sting brought his Back to Bass
tour back to Boston Friday night. There were no symphonicities, as he calls
orchestral versions of his songs, and, more importantly, none of that godawful
lute music that he inflicted on his fans a while ago.
This time the
former (and future?) frontman of The Police played nothing but his hits in a
riveting look back at an enormously successful 25-year career. At a sold out
Bank of America Pavilion, Sting and band delivered a perfect performance. On the
longest day of the year, it was the fastest two hours I've spent at a concert in
many a moon. Backed by what is probably the greatest group of musicians working
today (only the E Street Band and the current Steely Dan lineup are their
equals), this was nirvana for both fervent fans and those familiar only with
Sting (the 61-year-old Gordon Sumner, playing on the
first day of summer), is incredibly fit. When he arrived on stage wearing a skin
tight white T-shirt and old blue jeans, women - and more than a few men - oohed
The 16-time Grammy winner kicked things off with solo hit "If
I Ever Lose My Faith in You" and Police smash 'Every Little Thing She Does Is
Magic', and it was evident early on that this was going to be a very special
First off, the sound mix was pristine; every word and subtle
instrumental touch was clear as a bell; all touring acts should take such care
with their sound!
Secondly, this is a no-nonsense band that clearly
enjoys itself onstage. Sting plays a mean bass, and his arrangements are far
from simple, even on such trifles as 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da'. Drummer Vinnie
Colaiuta, who attended Berklee for a year, is in a league by himself; he was,
remember, in persnickety Frank Zappa's band for years. Pianist David Sancious
was in the earliest versions of Springsteen's E Street crew and has worked with
such diverse giants as Peter Gabriel, Santana, Stanley Clarke and Zucchero.
Dominic Miller, another ex-Berklee student, is Sting's long-time guitarist and
has been the in-studio go-to guy for Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Backstreet Boys,
Placido Domingo and the late Pavarotti. Toss in the violin playing of Peter
Tickell and vocals of Jo Lawry and it's a first-rate group.
songs are so damn good: 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', 'Roxanne', 'King of Pain',
'Every Breath You Take', et al.
Highlights were many. This review would
never end if all were mentioned. But the reggae groove of 'Englishman in New
York' and the group sing-along of its "whoa-oh" chorus was sublime... and loud:
I bet the windows rattled at the Seaport Hotel down the street. A bone-crunching
'Demolition Man' followed by the gorgeous, quiet 'Fields of Gold', with lovely
fingerpicked guitar by Miller, was a fine loud/soft mix. Tickell's violin solo
on the jazzy 'Driven to Tears' was sensational and the funky 'Heavy Cloud No
Rain' got everyone up and shaking their fannies. 'Message in a Bottle' was a
euphoric rocker followed by the delicate, melodic 'Shape of My Heart', easily
the best one-two punch of the night. And the dancing bear mascots wearing Bruins
jerseys during second encore 'Next To You' got folks giggling and clapping. He
dedicated the night-closing 'Fragile' to those who lost their lives in the
Marathon bombing, and it was a terrific way to end a terrific show.
has great affection for the city of Boston and its people. The Police's U.S.
success really started here, he said, recalling his early gigs at the long-gone
and much missed Rat and the support shown by the DJs at the long-gone and much
missed WBCN. Sting launched his Back to Bass tour in October 2011 at the Wang,
taking only the occasional break since then. Not quite Bob Dylan's never-ending
tour, but pretty impressive nonetheless. He has a new album due in September:
'The Last Ship', music from a musical he wrote that will open on Broadway next
year. So who knows when we'll get to see this killer band in action again. Soon,
I hope. Because pop music doesn't get any better than this.
Herald by Bill Brotherton