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Sting reinvents biggest hits in show at Chastain

By JAMILA ROBINSON

It’s probably safe to put Sting in the incomparable category. With such a distinctive tenor that manages power, angst and even a bit of audacity, after all these years, he’s always reliable.

So, it speaks to the singer’s remarkable imagination, to reinvent some of his biggest hits, including “Roxanne” and “Englishman in New York,” into breathtaking classical arrangements performed alongside London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, an outfit he “borrowed from the Queen.”

At Monday night’s performance at Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Sting thanked her Highness, for the orchestra conducted by Stephen Mercurio. Fans echoed the sentiment as they were taken through a dazzling set list that had familiarity, (“King of Pain” and “Every Breath You Take.”) and underscored the depth of Sting’s songwriting talent in pop, jazz and country (“1,000 Years, “Hung My Head”).

As Sting himself noted onstage, working with an orchestra has helped him “excavate his work” for songs that might have been “forgotten” on his past albums.

Indeed, the Royal Philharmonic broadened some of Sting’s lesser known songs. On “Russians,” (from “Dream of the Blue Turtles”) the orchestra expanded on a melody Sting had already borrowed from Prokofiev, giving it a luxurious glory one would expect from a Russian march.

But just when you’d expect a big, symphonic arrangement, Sting performed a surprisingly stripped down “Roxanne,” showing the strength in its simplicity.

In a too quiet contrast, “Moon Over Bourbon Street” suffered with its complexity, which was decidedly clumsy. And there were moments where the orchestra overpowered the lone background vocalist. But that’s to be expected when the orchestra, and especially, its soloists on violin, cello, clarinet and trumpet, were the real stars.

On “Desert Rose,” a complicated, song already, Mercurio brought out the virtuosity of the strings. They zipped through the show-offy Middle East-inspired bridge. This loosened the musicians’ staid expressions, who bopped along with their violins and violas, matching the audience on its feet. See photos from show here.

Did you attend the show? If so, what did you think?

20 comments Add your comment

HM

June 29th, 2010
1:06 pm

Went to the show, not really knowing what to expect. Had a thoroughly good time!

John Sicienski

June 29th, 2010
3:27 pm

Sell your ticket if you still have it!!!!!! It was a HORRIBLE SHOW!!! If you are expecting the Sting from the pre-Police reunion tour, you will be VERY DISAPPOINTED !!!! The first part of the setlist was ok.. Then came the intermission…followed by set 2. If Sting wanted to put the crowd to sleep in the 2nd set, he accomplished his goal… I WANT MY MONEY BACK

Michael

June 29th, 2010
3:32 pm

Wow John – do you want some cheese with your whine?

Joby

June 29th, 2010
4:15 pm

Second set is definitely weaker, but the biggest distraction of the show is the buffoon that poses as a conductor. He thinks he’s auditioning for a dance slot on America’s Got Talent…but he has none. The orchestra ignores him when they aren’t mugging at each other in disdain over his antics. They do a fine job and they don’t need this clown. Eric Clapton was better at going acoustic than Sting is at going orchestral, but all in all an enjoyable show (tho we could have left at the half…). Would I buy those tickets again…..? Nah, I’d use the money to buy all his songs on iTunes and keep the change….

RickP

June 29th, 2010
4:24 pm

Pretty disapointed, missed his thumping bass, could not hear any bass at all. Second set song list was boring. Highlight was “King of Pain”, give it 4/10. Wish I would had gone to the Police reunion tour.

JW

June 29th, 2010
4:30 pm

I went to a concert to hear one of my favorite artists perform and perform he did. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert especially when he would take the time to expand on how and/or why he had written that particular song. This is the fourth time I have seen him and I think it was one of his best.
What I did not like about the show was the people around me who wanted to talk, hoot and yell while he was perfoming a song. Just can’t understand why people pay money to go to a concert and feel the need to talk thru the entire show. As for anyone else on the stage, I didn’t pay attention to them. Don’t know about you but like I said before, I went to see and hear Sting and I got my money’s worth.

TM

June 29th, 2010
5:02 pm

For those who didn’t like it, you are not true Sting fans. My third time seeing him and by far was the best. Much better than the last time I saw him in Phillips where the acoustics were horrible and he was shown up by Annie Lennox. His set list was incredible and bringing out songs like “I Hung My Head” was brilliant. One of the best concerts this year.

nancy

June 29th, 2010
5:05 pm

I thought Sting was incredible!!
If you want to go to a show and hear the same old thing, or hear it exactly as it was played 30 years ago ( ie, Kansas and Foreigner), go see the rocker bands that don’t have enough talent to change anything. Sting is diverse and his music can be complicated. The symphony added more diversity to his music. Desert Rose was awesome! And BTW, The Police broke up a long time ago…..

nancy

June 29th, 2010
5:06 pm

And yes TM, one of the best shows in a very long time!!

WyattD

June 29th, 2010
5:36 pm

Disappointment is the word of Monday evenings concert. I LOVE Sting and I love most all his songs, but when you take the melodies down to a tempo lower than the stock market is right now, it just equals boredom and sleepiness. I agree with RickP. There was a SEVERE lack of mid-range and no bass what so ever. The 2nd play list was draining. The heat didn’t help! Overall I would still give it a 6 out of 10, b/c in the end game, it’s Sting and the songs were still the songs, just slightly butchered.

shellybean

June 29th, 2010
6:00 pm

I’m on my way to Chastain right now and can’t wait to see STING! For all those overly critical, if you think you can do a better job, hop to it!

Cheryl

June 29th, 2010
6:12 pm

Third time to see Sting and truly the best. Having the Royal Philharmonic caused him to step up his game. His voice remained strong to the end. If you thought you were coming to see the Police, you should have paid attention to the concert promo material. Too bad for you.

RickP

June 29th, 2010
6:56 pm

Let me clear some things up, No, I was not expecting to hear a bunch of Police songs, I read the set list from the Hollywood bowl concert, so I knew what to expect. I love all his solo work, my point was that to finally see him live, I was expecting more. Now I know that with the Royal Philharmonic behind hime was going to be different, and I’m fine with that, but I was kind of expecting this “wall of sound”, aka Phil Spector, that would compliment his voice. It just missed for me.

the last time I saw the Police was in 1982, with the Talking Heads opening up for them.

cooter brown

June 29th, 2010
9:34 pm

Jamila – Sting couldn’t write a country song if his life depended on it. Maybe something with a country feel, but not country. I am a Sting/Police fan, but he ain’t country.

E

June 30th, 2010
9:16 am

To the ones who were not pleased with the show: I guess you all will never be happy. I was first introduced to Sting by my older brother during his Police years and I’ve been a fan ever since. The concert was amazing. The guy sounded amazing. My only regret is that I showed up 30 minutes late. The concert started on time. I guess it’s one of those British things.

Mikki

June 30th, 2010
9:39 am

Still jazzed from last night’s show–loved that Sting really seemed to enjoy himself even though he has been doing this show for over a month now. Took the time to explain his craft and thought process which added a great dimension. Tribute to those in Gulf with “Fragile” was a thoughtful touch. The last encore where he sang acapella after 2+ hours of singing showed she still had it. Pity those who did not find their evening with Sting enjoyable. Have loved Sting from Synchronicity through Symphonicity….

K Lopez

June 30th, 2010
1:02 pm

Sting’s performance was brilliant, start to finish. He is an amazing artist that truly gifted Atlanta with his performance Monday evening at Chastain.
Chastain, it’s time to retire your old folding chairs and UPGRADE!!

Jeff

June 30th, 2010
10:26 pm

Wasn’t sure what to expect – Sting’s voice was great but orchestra did not hit on all cylinders. I agree with several other posts about sound mix -no bass. When I saw 4 timpani’s on stage I got excited but didn’t really hear them during the show. Setlist was good mix of old an new but a bit mellow. Overall 7 out of 10.

Kim T.

July 1st, 2010
9:30 am

I thought the show was FANTASTIC! One thing I appreciate with Sting is that he as well as his music has matured gracefully with age. I am sooo appreciative that he is not like Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger jumpin around stage thinking he’s 22 in some tight spandex looking like a complete idiot. I thought the musical arrangements were phenomenal, and his stage resence increcible! Cannot wait for him to come back!!!

UGAnatureGirl

July 1st, 2010
2:32 pm

First time seeing Sting in concert, and I thought it was AWESOME. Unlike so many older singers, his voice is still pristine. Sure – some of the songs weren’t my favorites, but with the orchestra, I still thoroughly enjoyed them. The only gripe I have is that there were too many distractions from the crowd — the drunks in the back with the beach ball, way too many people coming and going, etc. Have some respect for the artist and the true fans people!