St. Louis, MO, US
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatrewith None

Sting puts new twist on old favourites at Verizon...

First, give Sting credit for doing something different on tour this summer.

While many acts are stuck doing the same old thing, Sting has paired up with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, conducted by the dynamic, wand-waving maestro Steven Mercurio. The summer tour played in the blistering heat Wednesday night at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

Second, give Sting a hand for pulling it all off.

Not everyone wants to see Sting in this particular setting. Some fans just want to hear songs from his solo career and his time with the Police, such as 'Roxanne', 'King of Pain', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You'.

But rock royalty Sting went the extra mile, surrounding his classics with complementary symphonic layers, along with a band that included longtime guitarist Dominic Miller, percussionist David Cossin, singer Jo Lawry and bassist Ira Coleman.

It made for a crowded stage, but the amphitheatre easily accommodated the musicians, who were set up in perfect symmetry. When he greeted the crowd, Sting said it was the biggest band he'd ever had.

The resulting sound was full, lush and refreshing - and even welcome.

Sting, in good voice, opened with solo hit 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', which introduced us to what we were in store for the rest of the night. The song was recognizable, if not instantly so, but it was easy to settle into the new grooves.

'Englishman in New York' had a jarringly funky break dropped in that didn't feel orchestral at all. It was followed with 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Roxanne' and 'Russians'.

'Shape Of My Heart' featured a gorgeous guitar solo from Miller, while 'Whenever I Say Your Name' was a great spotlight for singer Lawry.

Sting often spoke between songs, explaining there are two different types of love songs, ''I love you, you love me'' songs that are boring, and ''I love you, you love somebody else'' songs that are painful but more interesting, which set up 'When We Dance'.

He talked about his desire to write country music, but knew it would never be accepted coming from him. So watching country artists cover his tunes was just as good, including Johnny Cash's take on 'I Hung My Head'. Sting revisited the song here.

After seeing the crowd's reaction to 'Fields of Gold', he called Missouri ''the romantic state.'' ''I renamed it,'' he said.

Sting top-loaded the first half of the show with big hits, something an artist with Sting's repertoire can do.

After an intermission, he said he'd touch on songs that were forgotten or discarded, including the jazzy 'All Would Envy'.

He called 'Tomorrow We'll See' his ''transsexual song'' (don't ask), and cast 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' as sort of a soundtrack to a vintage horror movie with creepy visual effects.

But he returned to the real meat and potatoes toward the end of the night with 'King of Pain' and 'Every Breath You Take', and an encore that included a rousingly exotic 'Desert Rose', during which he broke into a little jig; 'Fragile'; and an a cappella 'I Was Brought To My Senses'.

(c) St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Kevin C. Johnson