Sting Plays With New Sounds

By | May 6, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Sting effortlessly trots through a cowboy-style Western ditty, swoons a blues number interrupted by French rap and still knows how to strip down to pure form the songs of the group that made him a legend.

On tour to promote his album “Brand New Day,” the former Police frontman uses that distinct, throaty voice to sow together his eclectic musical endeavors.

“Fill Her Up” from his latest record, a song which is about as close as the poised Englishman comes to singing in a country twang, glides almost seamlessly into “Fields of Gold,” one of his most melodic solo ballads.

Heavy guitar riffs string together in quick succession the upbeat new release “After the Rain Has Fallen” with an old favorite, “We’ll Be Together.”

Even without the vocal accompaniment of Algerian singer Cheb Mami, Sting, surrounded by orange flames of tissue, performs a rich version of the Arabic-Western duet “Desert Rose.”

The jazzy swoon of “Perfect Love… Gone Wrong” gets a jolt in the middle from an energetic French rap, performed by drummer, Manu Katche. In one of the concert’s few moments of playfulness, Katche bounds across stage and dances behind Sting.

Die-hard Police fans, well-represented among the masses at Saturday night’s show kicking off of a U.S. tour, probably craved to hear a few more of the band’s favorites during the nearly two-hour set. But what they got cleansed their ears from the remixed and sampled versions of Police classics that crowd the airwaves – like “Every Breath You Take” – to remind them what those songs really sound like.

As part of his encore, Sting performed “Message in a Bottle” with only his guitar and lots of help from the audience. His voice soared through the MCI Center, the large downtown venue here.

His rendition of “Roxanne” started off slow, went into a musical free-form midway through, and ended back up to speed. And his energetic “Every Little Thing” was one of the biggest audience-pleasers of the night, propelling a mellow crowd to its feet.

Sting, clad in a pair of camouflage pants and a black tank top, made his romp through the various styles and genres of his own music look effortless. He benefits from an ensemble of musicians that can keep pace.

Chris Botti’s trumpeting adds texture and depth to a number of Sting classics, such as “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.” And guitarist Dominic Miller got a chance to display his own solo talents, after opening act Jill Scott canceled because of illness.

A publicist for Scott said she was suffering from a lung infection and a high fever. She is expected to join the tour after a few days, when Sting performs in Greensboro, N.C.

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