An extremely refined looking Sting emerged from the side wing of the Climate Pledge Arena and strode across the grand stage with the poised grace of an English gentleman - appropriate given his stately birthname, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, and his sophisticated solo work. But as he reached for his bass guitar, the sold-out audience could see the biting edge of a rockstar emerge, fitting for his sobriquet Sting - the mononym he acquired in his early days as a jazz musician and retained as the prodigious frontman for the highly influential new-wave-meets-experimental-reggae band The Police.
Fully cognizant of the duality found within his cunning, creative persona, Sting opened the show with a proper selection, “Message in a Bottle,” (not Taylor Swift’s song of the same title) from The Police’s 1979 release Reggatta de Blanc, and “Englishman in New York” from his second solo album, 1987’s …Nothing like the Sun. Sting continued showcasing his wide and varied songwriting skills with another pair of Police and solo highlights, the boundary-breaking “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” from the band’s 1981 Ghost in the Machine, and Sting’s soulfully smooth solo hit “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” from his 1985 debut solo release, Dream of the Blue Turtles.
Sting’s signature silky-to-snarly vocals and gritty, graveled-out “oiw” were on point during a selection of work pulled from 1993’s Ten Summoner’s Tales. His voice easily hit the poppy high end on “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” the smooth midrange of "Shape of My Heart,” and the bluesy low end in “Heavy Cloud No Rain.” All three pieces were delivered with polished accompaniment provided by his backup troupe, rhythm section, and superb backing vocalists Melissa Musique and Gene Noble.
The Police’s greatest hits were highlighted next. Sting set the collection off with “Walking on the Moon” (Reggatta de Blanc), which had fans gleefully singing along to his rhythmic “eyo-yo-yo” call-outs, followed by the rock reggae gem “So Lonely” from the Police’s 1978 debut album Outlandos d’Amour.
Sting briefly broke The Police’s mystic rocker motif and pulled up his worldbeat solo ode “Desert Rose” from 1999’s Brand New Day, before jumping back into a pair of songs from the band’s final release, 1983’s Synchronicity. Sting’s voice belted out the signature evocative choruses of “King of Pain” and “Every Breath You Take” with precision. His son Joe Sumner, who served as the opening act, supplemented the performance. The two sang side-by-side, with their similar features and vocal range making for a somewhat surreal moment.
The show wound down for an encore, with Sting wailing out with his signature howling on “Roxanne” (Outlandos d’Amour) and his gentile rendering of “Fragile” (…Nothing Like the Sun). The songs made for a fitting ending and reminder that despite his youthful appearance, Sting’s library of work spans nearly 50 years. His music style is wide and varied but is highly recognizable - from the hallmark “I want my MTV” snippet from Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” showcased in the latest MTV Music Video Awards promos, “Every Breath You Take” in Sean Combs hit “I’ll be Missing You,” to the late Juice WRLD’s 2018 sampling of “Shape of My Heart” in "Lucid Dreams,“ and most recently Swedish House Mafia interpolating “Roxanne” for their song “Redlight.” These are just a few examples of how much Sting and his persona have permeated pop culture and will continue to do so for quite some time.
Setlist: My Songs Tour
Message in a Bottle
Englishman in New York
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
If It's Love
If I Ever Lose My Faith in You
Fields of Gold
Brand New Day
Heavy Cloud No Rain
I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying
Shape of My Heart
Why Should I Cry for You?
All This Time
Mad About You
Walking on the Moon
So Lonely (With "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley )
King of Pain
Every Breath You Take