Nothing Like The Sun

Bethlehem, PA, US
Stabler Arena
Sting, an iceman, thaws at Stabler Concert...

If anyone doubts all the talk about the sudden thawing of rock's premier iceman Sting, they could have witnessed the thaw last night in a sold-out Stabler Arena crowd.

He was more animated - cavorting around the stage - and more personable - actually laughing and chatting with the audience - than in his last swing through Bethlehem more than two years ago. And really, who but the harshest cynic could help but like a man who would pluck a little boy and his play guitar from the audience to share an encore?

It was all of the above, and lots of good music, including all the songs from his '...Nothing But the Sun' LP. There were more than few from 1985's 'Dream of the Blue Turtles' and a healthy dose of vintage Police tunes. In addition to 'Blue Turtle''' holdovers Branford Marsalis on saxophone and Kenny Kirkland on keyboards, he was joined by bass guitarist Tracy Wormworth (formerly of the Waitresses), guitarist Jeff Campbell, keyboardist Delmar Brown, drummer Jean Paul Ceccarelli and percussionist Minu Celu.

If the 'Blue Turtle' period was jazz influenced, this time around the perpetual motion machine Celu gave things a decidedly Latin flavour. Sting has often said he likes to avoid sounding like the record, and his arrangements such as 'Roxanne' (accompanied only by himself on acoustic guitar and a soulful Marsalis) and a rocking 'Little Wing', which drifted in and out of a few Beatles' tunes, were some of the most effective.

Not nearly as exciting was a more mundane rendition of his recent hit 'We'll Be Together' which, frankly, sounded just like the record.

Maybe it's been all that movie work, but the new Sting is also much more of a showman. So much so, that at times he was guilty of mercilessly hamming it up. However, last night's crowd apparently was in no mood for subtleties, as they ate up every minute - even the corniest ''I can't hear you'' routines.

Once again Sting showed strong vocals that are only hinted at on his recordings. The sound mix, overly loud and plagued with problems a few years ago, was near perfect last night. While Sting was certainly still the centrepiece of the show, he no longer seems on a pedestal.

The concert was presented by Upfront Promotions and Makoul Productions.

(c) The Morning Call by Bill Wedo