Mercury Falling

Minneapolis, MN, US
Target Centerwith Lyle Lovett
Sting in Minneapolis...

''Lyle Lovett opened for Sting and hit the stage precisely at 7.30pm. I'm not that familiar with Lyle's music but I was very impressed with his performance. He has a unique vocal style and was accompanied by a talented ensemble of musicians. About half way through his set who should appear on stage but Sting, wearing a huge cowboy hat! He performed the song 'Long Tall Texan' with Lyle and it was pretty funny to hear him attempt a southern drawl with a British accent! Lyle's set was nearly an hour long, and he ended by thanking Sting for letting him perform with him and mentioned how much he respected him as a musician. A very nice tribute indeed.

Just before 9.00pm the lights in the arena dimmed and the band came out on stage. Finally Sting appeared and the crowd of around 13,000 (which ranged in age from pre-teens to 50-something!) were on their feet, cheering and going crazy! He opened with a trio of songs from 'Mercury Falling', 'Hounds Of Winter', 'I Hung My Head' (I must admit I didn't care for this song too much on the album but after hearing it live, I now love it!) and the beautiful 'I Was Brought To My Senses'.

''It's nice to be back in Minneapolis''! Sting said and then went into a rocking yersion of 'If You Love Somebody...' It was great to hear him perform this song after all these years - definitely a concert highlight.

Sting looked fit and fantastic wearing a grey-coloured vest and pants with army styled boots. His voice was soulful and melodic, yet powerful and showing no signs of strain after months of touring.

Several Police classics were performed, which seemed to delight the crowd. The red lights during 'Roxanne' were cool. After all these years that song, along with 'Every Little Thing ...' , 'Synchronicity II' and 'Demolition Man' sounded better than ever.

One of my favorite songs was the soulful 'You Still Touch Me' which in my opinion is one of the best songs from 'Mercury Falling'. Before singing the country-flavoured 'I'm So Happy...' Sting asked if there was gentleman vocalist around... Out came Lyle Lovett and he and Sting did their second duet of the evening. These two sounded great together!

Kenny Kirkland proved he is one of the best keyboardists around during a riveting solo on the medley which has become a Sting concert staple: 'Bring On the Night/When The World Is Running Down'. Guitarist Dominic Miller and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta were in top form as usual. The addition of a horn section added a spark to Sting's incredibly talented band. When they weren't actually playing, Clark Gayton and Butch Thomas demonstrated some fun dance moves which really got the crowd going!

'Be Yourself No Matter What You Do' chimed the enthusiastic audience during the chorus of 'Englishman In New York'. Sting also performed the mellow 'Fields Of Gold' and 'Seven Days'.

Exiting the stage, Sting waved at the crowd and everyone cheered and yelled anticipating his return. His first encore consisted of two of his most well-known tunes, 'If Ever I Lose My Faith...' and 'Every Breath You Take' (another sentimental favourite brought back memories of the Summer of '83!) as well as a shimmering rock version of 'Lithium Sunset' which sounded quite different than the album version.

Sting left the stage again but he hadn't done 'Fragile' yet, so I knew he'd return! True to form he returned to the stage with an acoustic guitar and performed the song which now ends every one of his concerts. The audience mellowed out a bit, flickering lighters throughout the arena and winding down from what was an incredible concert experience.

This was the eighth time I've seen Sting in concert (including a POLICE concert in 1983) and I can honestly say this was one of his best performances ever! He looked and sounded terrific and really seemed to enjoy himself on stage. We love you here in Minnesota, Sting, feel free to come back anytime!

(c) Kathryn Kelly for Outlandos/

Sting stinks - Unless you're a Dockers Rocker...

When Sting made his Twin Cities debut in 1979 with The Police at Jay's Longhorn in Minneapolis, the hunky Brit tore around the stage shirtless, and the band delivered amped-up ska-pop with the new-wave fervour of the day. But even then, Sting was suspect.

The Police's first two albums, 'Outlandos d'Amour' and 'Reggatta de Blanc', were all catchy craft and little substance, and observers of that Longhorn show left pondering Sting's fate: Would he embrace the adventurousness of his peers, or veer towards the middle of the road, which seemed to beckon so strongly?

Eighteen years later, the answer is clearly the latter. At the Target Center Wednesday night, Sting performed well. His five-piece backing band was expert. They played all the right notes, Sting sang all the right words, and the stage looked like a Walker Art Center installation. There were comfortable melodies. Populist lyrics. And lots of opportunities for naps.

All in all, the 100-minute set consisted of the kind of ponderous, neutered ''rock music'' that can inspire only shopping. For Dockers. There was a distance - a sheen - to the performance that made it anything but special (indeed, if you missed last night's concert, you'll be able to catch the exact same thing on pay-per-view in a couple of weeks), and the glut of lite jazz, lite reggae, and lite roque made it all the more forgettable.

Of the 18 songs performed, Sting strung together some of the greatest Muzak hits of the day: 'I Hung My Head', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', 'Synchronicity', 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take', and 'I'm So Happy, I Can't Stop Crying' (a duet with opener Lyle Lovett). Part of the problem was Sting's aggressively anonymous back-up band, which included an annoyingly busy drummer and two horn players that dove in and out of the arrangements like gnats. What's more, Englishman in New York featured saxophonist Butch Thomas on one of the most embarrassing token raps since Debbie Gibson's ''Electric Youth'' tour stopped here.

In his 45-minute opening set, Lovett fared little better. Though his formally-attired big band displayed a certain honky-tonk expertise, too much of the set relied on slow ballads that got lost in the arena.

It was only when Lovett giddy-upped into such numbers as 'Texas Wants You Anyway' and 'Long Tall Texan'(a duet with Sting, who donned a ten-gallon cowboy hat for the occasion) did the arena come to life. It was the kind of spunk and spark the entire evening could have used a little more of.

(c) The St Paul Pioneer Press by Jim Walsh

Alone and together, Sting and Lovett make memorable music...

Sting and Lyle Lovett are '90s kind of guys. They're literate, sensitive, thoughtful Renaissance men. Lovett's a soft-spoken, kinda shy, lonely heart; Sting a buff, macho, jovial family man. Both fellows are willing to take chances in music and in life.

These two strong and seemingly musically mismatched personalities teamed up Wednesday night at Target Center for a concert that was as memorable for two unexpected duets as it was for the usual high-quality performances both invariably give.

Sting, who is using various opening acts this summer, invited Lovett to open a dozen concerts. Wednesday was the first time Sting waltzed out during Lovett's set to sing on 'Long Tall Texan', which Lovett recently recorded as a duet with Randy Newman. Sting took Newman's parts on the 1963 novelty song, but Sting was funnier than Newman, if only because of his attempt at a Texas drawl with a British accent.

Of course, the 10-gallon hat on his head was a hoot, too. Even the usually deadpan Lovett was laughing.

Lovett returned the favour later, singing on Sting's new 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying', a country kiss-off about a man who's so happy that his ex has found another man. The lyric sounds as if Lovett could have written it himself. His vocals fit Sting's song (as did Lovett's pedal steel guitarist Buck Reid, who sat in, too). And Sting thanked Lovett for allowing him to wear Lovett's cowboy hat earlier.

The rest of the night didn't sound like one big happy family. At least not Lovett's hour long portion. Offering songs mostly from his excellent new album 'The Road to Ensenada', Lovett leaned on songs of heartache. And there seemed to be more ache in his voice than ever before. His truncated band provided the appropriate twang or swing when called for.

His finely crafted, heroically sung 'I Can't Love You Anymore' may be the best country song recorded this year.

If Sting had seemed the introspective, thinking man's rock star early in his solo career, he was the peppy pop figure with entertaining jazz instincts Wednesday. His 95-minute performance, which drew heavily from his current album, 'Mercury Falling', was a buoyant showcase for his brilliantly catchy melodies. While the drums kept a steady rock beat, Sting dressed up his pure pop melodies in cool jazz, using weird meters, hip horn filigree and all kinds of keyboard colourings.

It was sophisticated and accessible at the same time. Now that the artiste is more comfortably back in the pop realm, his material started to suggest other performers. 'I Was Brought to My Senses' evoked James Taylor backed by Steely Dan. 'Lithium Sunset' was a Bruce Springsteen-styled rock'n'soul send up with echoes of '96 Tears' and 'I'll Take You There'.

Even if he sounded derivative, what's admirable about the Stingmeister is that he's always willing to change and evolve, and he always insists on rearranging old material. The crowd of about 13,000 went wild for the oldies, even for Sting's annoying signature chanting of ''eee-ay-oo'' during part of just about every Police number. Even a '90s guy has to assert his '70s roots sometimes.

(c) The Minneapolis Star Tribune by Jon Bream