Mercury Falling

Tinley Park, IL, US
World Music Theaterwith Lyle Lovett
The buzz on Sting: Something for everyone...

One of pop music's sexiest male artists or one of its most smug and pretentious? How you view Sting the personality may largely be a function of gender, but on a strictly musical level it was pretty hard to fault his concert Tuesday at the New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park.

In his 90-minute show Sting played a good portion of his current 'Mercury Falling' album while delighting older fans with a healthy chunk of material from his days with the Police. It was interesting to note that the Police fare received the loudest applause of the night.

Looking tanned and fit in a bicep-flattering sleeveless vest and sporting a wispy, hipster goatee, Sting was in a playful mood from the start, howling at the full moon at the end of the show-opening 'Hounds of Winter'. Several other songs from 'Mercury Falling' were featured early on, including the Western-themed 'I Hung My Head', played faultlessly in off-kilter 9/8 time by his versatile band of guitarist Dominic Miller, keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and two horn players.ginal recording from 15 years ago, it was startling to see how little it's changed. Chalk it up to clean living, I guess.

The 'Mercury Falling' songs were most notable for their diversity, from the sambalike 'I Was Brought To My Senses' to the Memphis soul-style 'You Still Touch Me', in which Sting's repeated refrain of ''You still torture me'' elicited squeals from his considerable number of female fans.

A guest appearance by show opener Lyle Lovett on 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' provided a surreal moment as the large-haired one and the disappearing-haired one stood shoulder to shoulder trading vocal lines on a country-flavored weeper. Miraculously, their voices blended perfectly, as incongruous as the two are otherwise.

Sting worked in songs from all his solo albums, including an inspirational 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' from 1991's 'The Soul Cages' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' from 1993's downbeat 'Ten Summoner's Tales'.

The Police oldies, though, were easily the concert's highlights. Keyboardist Kirkland got a rare chance to display his jazz chops on 'When the World Is Running Down', while the two-man horn section added additional excitement to 'Synchronicity II' and 'Demolition Man'. Sting's classic syncopated bassline drove 'Roxanne', during which he led the audience on a hearty ''E-Yo'' chorus.

It was enough to make you want to howl at the moon, too.

(c) The Daily Herald by Dan Kening

Sting puts some punch into New World concert...

Backstage at Chicago's smoky and sweaty Uptown Theatre around 1979, the late John Belushi watched Sting and the Police work to the verge of exhaustion, rocking even harder and nastier than on their latest hit record.

''Beautiful,'' Belushi said. ''The guy's good.''

Now 44, Sting is more the darling of the cheese and crackers set, making smart, jazz-inflected pop that nibbles more than it bites. The smooth edge makes for terrific listening on the home mini-system or during a moonlit drive along the lake, but often lacks the muscle to drive a stadium-sized venue. Tuesday night at the New World Music Theatre, however, Sting limbered up and reached back into his past. And while it fell short of 1979, this Sting show had kick.

Sting opened with three songs from his new album, 'Mercury Falling'. Though the crowd was ecstatic at the sight of its hero, the subtle songs didn't have the punch to keep fans jumping. But when Sting launched into 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', the pavilion exploded in an enthusiasm that powered the rest of the set.

Familiar favorites like 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Roxanne' were dressed up with searing guitar fills and a flaring horns, while the new 'You Still Touch Me' showcased a soaring vocal range that hasn't missed a beat since Sting's Police days. Sting gave all he had on every song, and the crowd ate it up.

Singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett opened the evening wearing his trademark Texas bouffant hairdo and tight-lipped, bent-at-one-end smirk. Though dressed with the reserve of a country parson, Lovett continues to project a captivating image of the country road troubadour. The world-weary creases that frame his face lend instant credibility to the tales he tells about life's striking moments, big and small.

Lovett started things with the sad and painfully slow 'Promises', bending his sinewy voice around melancholy lyrics and leaving the song to hang heavy in the nighttime air. It was a gamble even the best singers would have sidestepped, but Lovett stood tall behind his large voice and nailed it.

On the new 'Don't Touch My Hat', Lovett kicked his band into a snappier gear, with the singer warning an oncoming rival that ''If it's her you want, I don't care about that, you can have my girl but don't touch my hat.'' Lovett even played matchmaker on this night, mumbling a fan's marriage proposal with all the natural hesitation and stop-and-start nerves you'd expect of the suitor himself. A deliciously deliberate version of 'She's No Lady' sealed the deal and wowed the crowd.

(c) Chicago Sun-Times by Jon Sall

Sting delivers a fine performance...

Sting passed through Chicago at the end of July and delivered a fine performance, mixing musical styles while delivering his message. Boldly opening with three songs off 'Mercury Falling', his latest release, Sting quickly set a playful tone for the evening. 'The Hounds of Winter' crept in slowly before giving way (with Sting howling) to the unusual beat of 'I Hung My Head'.

'I Was Brought to My Senses' closed out the set-opening trilogy with guitarist Dominic Miller locking onto Sting's bass pattern to present a bouncing beat. It was at this point that keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, saxophone player Butch Thomas, and trombonist Clark Gayton broke free for the first jam of the evening.

Throughout the concert, Sting mixed in several of the anticipated Police songs, including a spirited 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'.

Sting's own 'Seven Days' followed with Thomas providing some lofty saxophone fills to compliment Sting's vocals. The band floated back through 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' before landing firmly in 'You Still Touch Me'.

One of the highlights came as Lyle Lovett and his pedal steel guitar player joined Sting on stage for the western-style 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying'. It was a wonderful addition that really made this song stand out. 'Synchronicity II' was fierce, with Miller slashing guitar licks like daggers, building the emotional stress of the rush-hour hell.

'Roxanne' started about as true to the original as Sting has performed in years, but later exploded into a jazzy trombone solo and audience sing-along.

Sting kept a tight reign on the band, allowing the group to burst their imaginary boundaries only briefly before being pulled back to the melody. On 'When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around', the band traveled far and fast, led by keyboardist Kirkland.

'Englishman in New York' closed out the show, encompassing a one-verse rap from Thomas that smoothly slid in and out of the center of the main song. The rap told the story of Sting from teacher to musician, as Sting drove home his point with an audience sing-along - be yourself, no matter what they say. The encores were fairly routine with the exception of a beautiful, acoustic rendition of 'Fragile'.

Lyle Lovett opened the show and really impressed me with his varied styles. He performed a number of songs off his latest release. His 60-minute set caught my attention immediately and held my interest throughout. 'Private Conversation' stuck in my head for days afterward.

(c) The Music Box web-site by John Metzger