Sting comes to Tanglewood, no lutes attached

STOCKBRIDGE —It will be an all Sumner show on Tuesday night when Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, also known as Sting, brings his band to Tanglewood for a nearly sold-out evening of music . Opening for his father will be Joe Sumner and the last Bandoleros.

The Last Bandoleros are a Tex-Mex flavored group, fueled by the younger Sumner's guitar work. And, as an added treat, Sting often joins the kids for the encore.

Meanwhile, Sting is touring in support of his latest album, "57th and 9th," a disc that critics have been touting as a return to the former Police bassist's rock and roll roots.

The album's title refers to the intersection in New York City that Sting crossed every day on the way to the studio to record the album.

Sting, of course, is a little defensive when critics declare that his 12th solo album is a "return" to rock.

"The thrust of it is rock and roll, but all my [musical] DNA is in there," he told a reporter from the London Telegram. "There's some folk music, some thoughtful, quiet moments. But the main thing is, 'let's have some energy.' It's not a lute album."

This is a reference to one of Sting's recent projects, "Sounds From the Labyrinth," which featured him playing, among other instruments, a lute. It was clearly a departure from the work of a typical rock/pop singer and Sting got a bit of grief from his fellow musicians. In a recent interview with The Eagle, Who founder Pete Townsend, upon hearing Sting's show will precede his in Lenox by a few days, said, "Sting will be there with his lute, I expect."

But "57th and 9th" is not a pop-punk disc in the classic style of Sting's first band, the Police, either. Instead of songs about Roxane, Sting sings about aging and the challenges it brings, in his life and the lives of some of his fellow rock icons..

"I'm deaf," he said to an interviewer. "I'm not as deaf as [AC/DC singer] Brian [Johnson], bu I'm not sure what to do about it. I need glasses to read. Hey, I'm 65."

But with no thoughts of slowing down. He expects to be on the road for most of this year, and, in fact, has calculated that he will be playing his 3,000th gig at some point.

"I'm a traveling musician," he said. "I'll probably die up there [on stage].

"There's something about walking on stage which does kind of revitalize you. People are pleased to see you and it definitely gives you a shot in the arm."

That road theme, he said to the Associated Press, is another storyline that permeates "57th and 9th."

"It's about searching," he said. "It's about traveling. It's about the road. It's about the pull of the unknown."

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-770-6977


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