Sacred Love

Seattle, WA, US
White River Amphitheatrewith Dominic Miller & Annie Lennox
Sting, Lennox gave stellar performances at White River...

As an Englishman in the Northwest, Sting took Friday's drizzly weather in stride.

''It's very (much) like England,'' the British rock icon told the mammoth crowd at the White River Amphitheatre. ''I have to tell you that I feel right at home.''

When buying tickets days, weeks or even months in advance, one never knows what the weather will be. Unfortunately, Friday's was a soggy mess, despite a brief fling with Indian summer the previous weekend. Those seated under the amphitheatre's enormous roof stayed fairly dry, but the folks on the upper lawn had to endure damp sod and drizzle. Mercifully, the rain let up a bit as the show got underway.

Sting and his co-headliner, Annie Lennox of Eurythmics fame, were grateful for the large turnout - estimated at more than 13,000 - under less-than-ideal conditions.

''Thank you, all you wet people!'' Lennox yelled as she concluded her energetic hour-long set. ''We appreciate your wetness.''

Both artists offered stellar performances, mixing their most popular songs with lesser-known material from their respective new albums. The concert was part of the 'Sacred Love' tour, named for Sting's current album.

Lennox took the stage following a 30-minute opening set by Sting's long-time guitarist, Dominic Miller, who played a mellow, acoustic version of 'The Star Spangled Banner', inspired by Jimi Hendrix's famous interpretation, as well as Bach's 'Air on the G String'. To the crowd's delight, Sting, bundled up in a tight grey jacket, joined Miller for 'Shape of My Heart', a song they wrote together. Miller called his nightly opening sets on the Sting/Lennox tour ''his 15 minutes of fame.''

Lennox took the stage shortly after 8 p.m., dressed in a purple jacket and torn jeans and sporting short-cropped blond hair and dark glasses. Backing her was a seven-piece band featuring two keyboardists and two background singers. The amphitheatre's two large fixed video screens offered dramatic close-ups.

She kicked off her bold, confident set with the powerful 'Legend in My Living Room', in which she sang about running away from home at 17 with a ''suitcase full of dreams,'' and 'Little Bird'. She danced fluidly to the music pulsing around her, and sang with fiery emotion.

Her background vocalists offered sweet backup for 'No More I Love You's' and 'Cold', which contained the lyrics, 'Dying is easy, it's living that scares me.' Lennox noted the irony of 'Here Comes the Rain Again', a surefire crowd-pleaser on a chilly night. She slide behind the piano for a slower, more reflective version of the song.

Her voice was spectacular on 'Walking on Broken Glass' and 'Missionary Man', but during the latter, she warned the crowd, ''If you don't get off your backsides, I'm leaving the stage. What's up with you?''

The prodding worked. Those who had been seated leaped to their feet and began dancing to the powerful, signature song, as well as the sexy set closer 'I Need a Man'. Lennox returned for a brief encore, opening with another famous song, 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)', and finishing with 'Why.' She earned a much-deserved sustained ovation.

Lyric phrases from Sting's current album, 'Sacred Love', were projected on a scrim as the singer-bassist and his seven-piece band took the stage. They opened with the powerful techno-rocker 'Send Your Love', bringing the crowd to its feet. In addition to the venue's two fixed screens, Sting had a multi-screen backdrop that displayed animated videos and film clips of dancers from many cultures.

The soaring 'Synchronicity II' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' thrilled the crowd. From there, Sting settled into the haunting 'Dead Man's Rope', while eerie images of a solar eclipse and a semi-nude dancer with a hula hoop played on the video screens. The R&B-flavoured 'We'll Be Together', a duet with Lennox, offered a dramatic contrast. As it closed, Lennox put her head on Sting's shoulder.

The delightful 'Seven Days' preceded the melancholy 'Fragile', accompanied by video depictions of oil derricks, World War II bombers and ominous imagery meant to highlight the earth's fragility. The gorgeous, romantic 'Fields of Gold' preceded 'Sacred Love', which Sting described as ''a song about religion and Victoria's Secret.'' The sexy song featured a skimpily clad dancer who performed provocatively, shaking her booty so furiously that the crowd roared in amazement.

Sting brought things back to earth with the tender, reggae-styled 'Englishman in New York', featuring a line about being yourself ''no matter what they say.'' Singer Joy Rose joined him for 'Whenever I Say Your Name', which Sting originally recorded with Mary J. Blige. Rose was a show-stopper, performing with amazing gusto. Sting concluded his main set with a moving 'Roxanne', which included a snippet from 'King of Pain'.

Sting's encore segment featured two of his most beloved songs, 'If Ever I Lose My Faith in You' and 'Every Breath You Take'.

(c) The Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Gene Stout