Broken Music

Denver, CO, US
Magness Arenawith Phantom Planet
Verveless Sting channels Police...

It sounds ideal on the surface: Sting plays a musically faithful, 90-minute, Police-focused concert starting with 'Message in a Bottle' and closing with 'Every Breath You Take'.

But even though that's what the seminal rocker did on Tuesday night at the University of Denver's Magness Arena, it wasn't a guaranteed formula for success.

It was formulaic all right, but the formula is tired. Certainly some of the songs still have life in them and the singer-songwriter's voice still sails on that stylish gasp. But a Sting concert just for the sake of a Sting concert (and no new album or clear direction) is a hard sell.

Let it be said that many of Sting's songs came off in note-for-note perfection, sometimes mirroring the album versions with a scary exactness. With Sting on bass leading a pared-down band - two guitarists and a drummer - the arrangements were authentic and light on so much of the world noodling that has turned off many of Sting's old-school fans.

The first four songs of the night, 'Message in a Bottle', 'Spirits in the Material World', 'Demolition Man' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', were uber-faithful adaptations, although the latter two got a bit jammy and solo-oriented toward the end.

But Sting's choice of 'Demolition Man' and the encore-ending (not to mention played-out) 'Every Breath You Take' over classics such as 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'Can't Stand Losing You' - two songs that straddle the punk/post-punk line with such rich, angular grace - was disappointing.

Even though some of the hits were there in pristine, needle-on-vinyl shape, the show still lacked the passion Sting no doubt feels for his music, both old and new.

He spoke to the crowd - ''It's about you,'' he said to the crowd after 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' - and he played for a solid 90 minutes, but he didn't seem driven, he didn't seem as if he were psyched to be bringing these memories back to the crowd, which ate up anything pre-1984 with gusto.

While his cover of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life' was quite pretty in an Electric Light Orchestra kind of way, he followed it with a lackluster take on the lame 'The Soul Cages'.

''This tour is a way for me getting back to my roots,'' he said before taking on the Beatles and eventually hitting the standard 'Roxanne', which was a pivotal moment in the show. Sting could have blown it out as he has before in concert - into a 10-minute pseudo-epic - but instead he kept it like the song's immortal bass line: simple, timeless and constant.

It would have been the better exit note, but instead he came back for a couple of bluesy numbers, including 'She's Too Good For Me', and the mood-setting 'Every Breath You Take'.

(c) The Denver Post by Ricardo Baca

Sting rocks out at Magness - Musician goes back to his roots with Broken Music tour...

Sting and his 'Broken Music' tour stopped by the Magness Arena at DU and gave an amazing concert last Tuesday. And he proved he is still is as hard of a rock 'n' roller as he was 26 years ago.

2005 marks the 20th year since Sting released his first solo album, 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles', and the 26th year since The Police released their first hit single.

Although in these 20 years, Sting has made notable contributions to rock'n'roll, his 2003 CD Scared Love was met with little praise.

He, therefore, chose to go on this 'Broken Music' tour to sing his classics.

He began most songs with a discourse to the audience, and declared before introducing The Beatles' 'A Day In the Life' that the 'Broken Music Tour' was ''a way of going back to my roots- to figure out who I am.''

Sting found himself along with accompanying musicians, drummer, Josh Freese, and guitarists, Dominic Miller and Shane Fontayne.

This trio of musicians provided Sting with the backup of a more rock-based sound, allowing him to eschew his contemporary jazz sound and opt for the rock'n'roll of his Police classics.

Sting omitted most of his recent solo work except for the strongest of ballads, instead focusing on his songs from his early days of Rock 'n' roll Hall of Famers.

Indeed, he was four songs into the concert before he ventured one of his most popular solo songs, 'If I Ever Lose My Faith'. Sting was jovial and engaged with the crowd, looking as sharp as ever in a pinstriped suit jacket and blond hair slicked back.

The chemistry between him and his fellow musicians onstage, especially during 'Roxanne', was as fun to watch as Sting's rock 'n' roll jump through the air at the end of the concert.

Going back to his roots was what it took to prove that Sting is a talented musician who still has years of singing left in him.

His voice is as strong as ever, as he hit every high note with as much gusto as he did on his recordings 20 years ago.

Sting's 'Broken Music Tour' just goes to show that whatever was broken he has certainly fixed.

(c) The Clarion Online

Bee has exited Sting's bonnet - Ex-Police frontman drops jazz, ballads in return to 'roots'...

Before introducing the Beatles' A Day In the Life, 53-year-old Sting declared his ''Broken Music Tour'' a ''way of going back to my roots - to figure out who I am.''

Fortunately, for Police fans, Sting's newfound identity doesn't involve complex jazz solos or adult-contemporary ballads but a punk-rock quartet full of gunshot drums and loud guitars.

During an entire 1 1/2-hour show at the University of Denver, Sting played almost nothing from his past three albums, dipping into his solo hits just for really strong ballads such as 1993's 'Field of Dreams' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and an especially dark and moody version of 1991's 'The Soul Cages'.

Otherwise, thanks in part to unyielding drummer Josh Freese, the rock bassist emphasized fast-and-loud Police classics, including the opening 'Message In a Bottle', 'Spirits In the Material World' and 'Synchronicity II'.

Wearing a black pinstriped jacket on a black stage - with Freese and guitarists Dominic Miller and Shane Fontayne in black as well - Sting was loose and jovial, telling stories and shrugging sheepishly when he came to the corny 'Roxanne' chorus of his best-known song.

His shows have been more serious in the past, when he led big jazz bands and leaned on theatrical, big-statement ballads such as 'It's Probably Me'. But Sting, who for a decade after he broke up the Police in 1984 was one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, seems to have sensed the problems with his career.

His 2003 CD 'Sacred Love' stiffed, and 1999's 'Brand New Day' relied on a Jaguar commercial for a boost up the pop charts. Sting was becoming more famous as a beautiful person, with a beautiful wife, who stands up for beautiful causes, than he was as a rock 'n' roller.

The ''Broken Music Tour'' changes that. While Sting left plenty of melodic breathing room on the Police smash 'Every Breath You Take' and the funky 'Heavy Cloud (No Rain'), he clearly had a hard-rocking agenda. His quartet fired up 'When the World Is Running Down (You Make the Best of What's Still Around)', 'Driven to Tears', 'Demolition Man' and especially 'Next to You' into adrenaline anthems.

It was almost like seeing the Police again - although Sting made a point of slowing down certain verses, and Freese's Nirvana-style drum bashing was about as far as you could get from Stewart Copeland's busy reggae and jazz fills.

Sting commanded center stage with his bass and slicked-back blonde hair and hunky physique, but it was almost as fun watching the interplay between the flashy, heavy-soloing Miller (a longtime Sting sidekick) and the more subdued, harmonica-playing Fontayne (who once played with Bruce Springsteen).

At one point, somebody yelled, and Sting responded: ''You love me? Where are you, darling?''

If he keeps rocking like this, he might not have to search for his fans much longer.

(c) Rocky Mountain News by Steve Knopper