Sting doesn’t want your pity, kind sir.
It can’t be easy being saddled with a schoolboyish nickname so far into middle age. Yet for all his years — the former Police frontman played his first solo gig 30 years ago last month — he still manages to look and carry himself more like a “Sting” than a “Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner.”
Glimpses of preciousness were only occasional, as during the Jackson Browne-ish “All This Time,” which had him crooning, “Better to be poor than a fat man in the eye of a needle.”
Sting’s hardly poor, and he’s got less body fat than the G string on the bass he plucked and danced with all night; his hip-swing interlude with his instrument on the Middle Easternish “Desert Rose” was particularly sultry. His jeans and short-sleeve T-shirt gripped his form like a sausage casing. And for anybody wondering about his fiscal fitness, before “Fields of Gold,” Sting explained that he came up with the song after buying a “house,” then stopped the tale to add a clarifying humblebrag: “It was a castle, really.” (He also confessed that life on the estate has caused him to grow less opposed to the sport of the gentry in his native U.K.: fox hunting.)
His voice shows no signs of aging, either. He stretched out the vocal cords whenever he asked his backup quintet to travel back to his vintage Police blotter: “Demolition Man” and “Next to You” were harder, faster and louder than ever. “Every Breath You Take,” a piece of pop brilliance released in 1983, has aged as invisibly as its singer.
Sting turned young fiddler Peter Tickell loose during a long jam on “Love Is Stronger Than Justice,” described as a tribute to movie westerns. Arena-rock violin solos are typically no more musically interesting than arena-rock drum solos, and they get the crowd just as fired up. Tickell’s fleet-fingered fretboard run, and the audience’s reaction, were typical.
The crowd got most kinetic when Sting came to the stage accompanied only by his acoustic guitar for a final encore of “Message in a Bottle.” As Sting sang, “Seems I’m not alone in being alone,” he had the whole room singing with him.