Englishman in Northwest Arkansas: Sting ‘magic’ in a 24-song set...
The AMP went and saved the best for last, didn't they?
Sting performed the last show of 2023 for a season that included the Foo Fighters, Snoop Dogg, Boy George, Lana Del Rey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Smashing Pumpkins, Peso Pluma, Koe Wetzel, Fall Out Boy, Jelly Roll and so many more.
Even though skies last night looked like rain for a moment, Sting kept the crowd singing for an impressive 24-song set full of hits by The Police and his exceptional solo career. Armed with a beat-up bass and wearing a tight distressed T-shirt and white jeans, the multi-Grammy award winner barely took a sip of water and sang his hits as if it were still the 1980s.
Opening for Sting was his son, singer/songwriter Joe Sumner, who not only inherited his father's handsome looks but his sensitive artistic soul too. Many of the songs he shared last night imparted wisdom on how to face life despite the challenges and he had the same easy disposition as his father did later in the evening. On either side of the 46-year-old guitarist, who performed solo, were large-scale projections from the singer's album art depicting colorful surrealistic landscapes.
This apple didn't fall far from the tree.
Sumner started promptly at 8 p.m. and by 8:15 he had the crowd singing and clapping along to a cover of "Who Do You Love," before going into another song about "When you feel down and everyone takes it personally" and then he ended his set with a sweet song about his little "Jellybean," from his album, "Sunshine in the Night," that dropped last week.
Sumner like his father, also plays bass, but you could just about stretch his vocal range from here to England. He drew plenty of love from the crowd when he hit his high notes. He even joined Dad on stage later for The Police hit, "King of Pain."
While waiting in line for the concert gates to open, I heard someone comment that Sting couldn't quite sing the way he used to because the 17-time Grammy award winner is 72 years old.
However, he appeared to be fresh from the gym and was ready to share some of his most well-known songs and a few new ones. He opened with "Message in a Bottle," then played his own "Englishman in New York," then my fav -- "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."
He enthusiastically introduced the members of his bands and beamed with pride for his son. On "Brand New Day" he bragged about his band member who rips through the harmonica line laid down by Stevie Wonder. He often had his backup singers in the front, singing lead at times. If Sting is having trouble singing, then he's making the best of it.
For a season that featured so many large, immersive sets from big acts like Phoenix and Smashing Pumpkins, Sting relied on simple lighting and didn't play much with the visuals. Though high energy most of the night, the crowd often took his cue when he sat on a stool to talk a little between songs. At one point, he related that happy love songs aren't always the best for songwriting, which is what you would expect from the man who wrote "Every Breath You Take," which he played at the end of the show ahead of the encore.
Sting also admitted to being a massive Buck Owens fan, before sharing his "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying," which he also recorded with country singer Toby Keith. In the middle of his set, he shared more of his solo hits like "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," and "Fields of Gold."
He saved "Roxanne" for the encore which he paired with his 1987 single, "Fragile." For his very last song, the singer brought out a guitar that looked just about as road-worn as his bass that he barely put down for the entire concert.
Before he left the stage for the night, Sting said he'd be back. Let's hope so.
(c) Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Monica Hooper