Mercury Falling

Park City, UT, US
Wolf Mountain Amphitheaterwith Samples
Sting shreds any thought of musical complacency...

Maybe shredders are not so bad, after all. Snowboarders, aka shredders, seem to be out-of-control bundles of testosterone and 'tude. But not the one at Wolf Mountain Wednesday night.

Self-proclaimed shredder Sting gave a performance that was anything but out of control. Sting took liberties with the crowd-pleasing oldies in his show, but the variations were calculated and coordinated.He eased into the show with the new 'Hounds of Winter'.

Soon, people at the sold-out concert were on their feet with 'If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free', a familiar tune Sting jazzed up with pleasing horn variations. Once Sting had concertgoers on their feet, he got them singing with 'King of Pain'.

He recruited a regular guy from the audience to help him out with 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying', a cut from his latest, 'Mercury Falling'. But the fortysomething Sting stuck mostly to classic songs from his days with the Police or early in his solo career.

Those included 'Roxanne', 'Demolition Man', 'Fields of Gold' and 'Englishman in New York', many of which featured welcome jazzy flourishes. Sting's performance was seamless, with one tune flowing smoothly into the next. In the 90 minutes before his first encore, he demonstrated incredible showmanship - and genuine nice-guy presence.

He generally stuck to the oldies during his first encore with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' and 'Every Breath You Take', then promoted his new release with the title song from the melancholy 'Mercury Falling'.

Sting ended the show wonderfully with 'Fragile', an environmental ode that was perfectly suited for the mountain setting.

For the first time that evening, the hassles of attending a show at Wolf Mountain could almost be forgotten. But then there was the traffic jam afterward that lasted nearly as long as the show itself. And the Gestapo tactics of the gate agents, who searched all bags entering the venue.Once on the mountain, no one could leave - even though ticket agents placed identifying plastic bracelets on ticket-holders.

And as fans of opening act the Samples discovered, don't even think about dancing in the aisles. There also is the problem of potty parity - or lack thereof - at Wolf Mountain, which forced many women to invade the men's room to the justifiable chagrin of modest males. One wonders how much longer Utahns will have to tolerate the poor selection of concert venues. But Wednesday, at least, Sting made it all worthwhile. Good thing Wolf Mountain is open to shredders.

(c) The Salt Lake Tribune by Joan O'Brien

Is Sting scared of his past? Not even...

Some of his most heartfelt selections of his performance Wednesday night at Wolf Mountain were the tunes he wrote for his former band, the Police. Once the show got rolling, Sting (also known as Gordon Sumner) reached into his bag of past goodies and pulled out 'Synchronicity II', 'Roxanne' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', all Top 40 Police hits. But the bassman wasn't about to cop out and capitalize on his history. He wanted to move forth.

And that's exactly what he did - from the start. And those who expected a gentle Sting show were jolted with a lesson in musical styles that included dancehall and ska. Sting's set did open with a mellower tune, 'Hounds of Winter', from his new album 'Mercury Falling' and slipped into another new song, 'I Hung My Head', which segued into 'I Was Brought to My Senses'.

The singer's crisp tenor was backed by a core ensemble of great musicians - guitarist Dominic Miller, keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Sting's band also featured a saxophonist and trombonist who strutted the stage with campy choreography, but played their tails off. To the audience's delight, the band kicked off Sting's first solo single, 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', from his 1985 debut album 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'.

'Seven Days' featured a kaleidoscope of emotions that were nailed together with an air-tight dancehall groove, while the live version of 'You Still Touch Me' got those in the audience clapping their hands to the beat.

In fact, the audience got so much into the show that Sting asked a man from the front rows to climb on stage and sing the chorus to 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying'. The dude, whose first name was Jack, apparently didn't know the song beforehand but got a crash course in the lyrics. By the time he jumped off the stage, he was well versed in the title-line chorus.

Other selections Sting played included the soothing 'Fields of Gold' from 'Ten Summoner's Tales' and the swinging 'Englishman in New York'. The band pulled the out the corks with the ska-pump of the Police's rambling arrangement of 'Demolition Man'.

Two encores closed the night as the band emerged with the crowd-pleasing 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', the obsessive (Police hit) 'Every Breath You Take', the moody 'Lithium Sunset' and the Latin jazz-influenced 'Fragile'.

Eclectic describes Sting's music. But so do soothing, humorous and rocking. In fact, there was something for everyone. And by the reaction of the mixed crowd, it was apparent the musicians hit a groove nerve.

The Samples, who have recorded a total of seven albums, warmed up the crowd. This band isn't a stranger to Utah. It has played at Saltair and DV8 in the past. But this was the first time at Wolf Mountain. And though the band played well, it wouldn't quite let the audience penetrate it's tight mental circle. Still, the tunes 'As Tears Fall', 'Seany Boy' and 'Birth of Words' were well received. If the band - guitarist/vocalist Sean Kelly, drummer Jeep MacNichol and bassist Andy Sheldon (keyboardist Al Laughlin didn't play) - continues down the path its going, big things are capable of happening.

(c) The Deseret News by Scott Iwasaki