07.21.2009 - Sting Relies On Hits For Foxwoods Concert...
The reunion of the Police for a 2007-08 tour was strictly a nostalgia play, an enthusiastically received recycling of past hits from a group that showed little interest in recording together again. Group frontman Sting has since returned to a solo career and is making a new solo record, but his formula was just as hit-focused for his stop Sunday night at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, as he filled a 20-song set with a checklist of his most popular solo and Police tunes with few unexpected turns.
Staked to a sturdy pulse by the three-piece band that accompanied him, the 57-year-old Englishman plucked at an electric bass and sounded sharp as he shifted his voice from husky exhale to shiny bark in the opener 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'. Drummer Josh Freese drove the insistent, punk-derived beat of 'Message in a Bottle', while Sting howled its lyrics with a practiced blend of urgency and confidence.
The exceptional David Sancious had a keyboard flourish for every type of tune, whether stretching out on 'Englishman in New York', or adding atmosphere to 'Fields of Gold'. Guitarist Dominic Miller colored that delicate tune and sizzled on 'Synchronicity II'.
Like his fluid bass work, Sting's singing provided his material with punctuation; in the case of his voice, it typically came as an extra touch of gusto at the end of each lyrical passage, small jolts that drove 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and 'Driven to Tears'. His bass lines were rarely showy but were among the quirky components of a jaunt across 'Seven Days' in which the groove was a moving target.
The show featured no tunes from Sting's two most recent discs, and took half of its offerings from the Police, among them the buoyant 'Walking on the Moon' and a gently swaying trip through 'Tea in the Sahara'. The set's final four songs were all Police numbers, including a bounding rendition of 'When the World Is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around' propelled by Sancious, and an extended finale of 'Roxanne' whose meandering middle section did little but accentuate the size of the blowout when the band ramped it back up.
The show's two encores suited a show that was topped out at enjoyable and included a take on 'King of Pain'. Sting belted gamely through 'Every Breath You Take' and set a soothing mood as he picked out the guitar lines of 'Fragile' to close the show, an old hand at the art of crowd pleasing.
© The Hartford Courant by Thomas Kintner