Broken Music

Salt Lake City, US
Delta Centerwith Phantom Planet
The years have been good to Sting - He still has that fire in his eyes, and his voice is in great shape...

The Beatles have been stung. It happened during the Sting concert Monday.

Sting, the former Police chief, paid tribute to the Fab Four, his favorite band, and played 'A Day In a Life' in its entirety.

The feat was done without keyboards and samplers. Instead, Sting, who was born Gordon Sumner, relied on his band - himself on the bass, drummer Josh Freese (of A Perfect Circle) and guitarists Dominic Miller and Shane Fontaine - to pull the progressive psychedelic stunts.

Ironically, Sting calls this round of concerts ''The Broken Music Tour.'' Music is one thing that isn't broken.

Still, irony was one of the show's strong points.

First, there were no video screens. That's a big deal for the man whose former band the Police was a mainstay on MTV throughout the early 1980s.

Second, Sting, the solo artist, played more Police songs in this set than he has in the past - except, of course, when he was in the Police.

Monday's show kicked off with three Police tunes - 'Message in a Bottle', 'Spirits in the Material World' and 'Demolition Man'.

The third ironic thing was mentioned by Sting himself as he addressed the adoring audience: ''The song 'Demolition Man' was my first attempt to write a heavy-metal song. It was filled with irony. But Sylvester Stallone took my song and made a movie that lacked any irony.''

The fourth song of the set was, finally, a solo Sting hit, 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'. He quickly followed that up with the lamenting 'Hung My Head'(a song the late Johnny Cash liked so much he made it one of his final recordings).

The years have been good to Sting. He's slim. He still has that fire in his eyes. And his voice can still effortlessly hit the high notes. And what's more, he can still sing in tune.

Another Police song, 'Synchronicity II', stood well with the solo 'End of the Game' and the ironic 'Heavy Cloud No Rain' refrain - to the delight of the audience.

Stage lights rotated and highlighted the songs, while the only visual backdrop was a wrinkled canvas that gave color to the stage, thanks to the many lights.

The surprising emergence of the new-wave favorite 'Invisible Sun' - yes, a Police song - and the solo work 'Why Should I Cry for You' set the tone for the hypnotic 'Fields of Gold' and the oppressive 'Soul Cages'.

''Getting back to my roots'' was easy, he told the audience. And he gave them what they wanted with the Police's trademark new-wave reggae hit 'Roxanne', as the stage lights bathed the audience in, of course, red.

Sting and the band wasted no time getting down in the first encore. The Police's 'Next to You' and the humorous 'She's Too Good for Me' were wrapped up with the No. 1 Police hit about obsession, 'Every Breath You Take'.

The second encore was comprised of one song, 'Mercury Falls', but that didn't bother the audience, which gave the band and opening guest Phantom Planet a rousing welcome.

(c) Deseret Morning News by Scott Iwasaki

Sting rocks the Delta Center with a set heavy on classics...

Sting dubbed his latest road trip ''The Broken Music Tour,'' and judging by the solid, classics-heavy set delivered Monday at the Delta Center, he should consider not fixing whatever is broken.

Touring with with just two guitarists and a drummer, the bass-wielding Sting largely eschewed the often-sappy adult contemporary fare of his recent solo work in favor of songs from his days leading Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers, The Police, and from his early solo albums. In fact, he was four songs into the 90-minute show before touching on any solo material.

That is no complaint. The opening troika of 'Message in a Bottle', 'Spirits in the Material World' and 'Demolition Man', had to be a thrill for any fan still mourning Sting's split with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers two decades ago. The arrangements of those songs played to the strengths of Sting's current band, particularly his longtime guitarist Dominic Miller, who delivered several sterling solos early on. Guitarist Shane Fontayne provided the reggae riffs of 'Spirits' with ease, and while drummer Josh Freese is not as intricate a player as Copeland, his straightforward approach and power gave the songs a strong backbone all night.

'If I Ever Lose My Faith' was a welcome selection from Sting's poppier solo work, and he followed it with a powerful version of 'I Hung My Head', a song Johnny Cash recorded shortly before his death. It was easy to hear why the song would appeal to Cash, but sadly it was almost impossible to hear the harmonica bursts coming from Fontayne.

The sound was rarely an issue, though, at least from the seats on the Delta Center floor.

Sting's voice remains about as strong now as 10 or 20 years ago. He doesn't quite have the same banshee wail he once used to open 'Synchronicity II', but the crowd was more than happy to help out. Songs such as 'Invisible Sun', 'Driven to Tears' and 'Fields of Gold' were no problem. 'Fields' also gave Miller one of his best moments, finger-picking out the lead guitar part.

''I had a great day today,'' Sting announced by way of introducing a cover of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'. ''I was at Snowbird. I was boarding. I fell on my ass so many times, it really hurts. But it was a great day.''

Sting hammered on the longtime favorites at the end of the set, just as he did at the beginning. 'The Soul Cages' was more dynamic live than in its recorded version, and he followed it with sing-alongs of 'When the World Is Running Down (You Make the Best of What's Still Around)' and 'Roxanne', complete with red lights soaking the stage.

After an 80-minute set, Sting returned to the stage for an encore including the frenetic 'Next to You' and 'Every Breath You Take', followed by another encore of 'Mercury Falling'.

(c) The Salt Lake Tribune by Dan Nailen