Sting in full 'Synchronicity' at Tanglewood

STOCKBRIDGE — Bassist/singer/songwriter Sting made his Tanglewood debut on Tuesday night. As he took the stage for his set, he told the sold-out Shed audience that he hoped they would enjoy the show — and invite him back.

Well, whether the ex-Police frontman comes back isn't necessarily up to just the audience. But it was pretty clear they enjoyed the show.

Sting and his band presented a 24-song, two-encore show that held the audience pretty rapt for most of the night. There were two opening acts. The first was Sting's son, Joe Sumner, and outstanding guitarist who displayed a Sting-like facility for songwriting and backed it up with a strong voice.

The second act was the Lost Bandoleers, a San Antonio combo that blended power chords with a Tex-Mex sensibility. A convergence of Def Leppard and Los Lobos, might be a good description.

Sting actually opened the show with an acoustic version of "Heading South on the Great North Road," accompanied by Joe. "Heading South" is a cut from his latest disc, "57th and 9th," released in November of 2016.

Following the sets by Joe Sumner and the Bandeleros, Sting opened with a rousing "Synchronicity" by his former band, and the set was pretty high energy for several numbers. The great thing about a lot of Police songs like "Synchronicity" is that the Police incorporated a lot of call-and-response yodeling with the audience. It's a tactic that pulls everybody in fairly quickly and it worked here.

Sting alternated between Sting songs and Police songs pretty much the rest of the way. He followed up the opener with "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You," "Spirits in the Material World" and a pointed "Englishman in New York" with its chorus, "I'm an alien, I'm an illegal alien."

Sting the activist didn't beat anyone over the head with his Progressive views on Tuesday. He let his lyrics do the talking.

Props go to the band's drummer, Josh Freese on Tuesday. It isn't easy trying to follow the beats of former Police drummer/percussionist Stewart Copeland, but Freese got it done. The father-son guitar duo of Dominic and Rufus Miller also complemented each other well.

Other highlights included Joe Sumner's vocals on a funky cover of David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes," "50,000," a personal fave from "57th and 9th" and a manic "Message in a Bottle."

Tuesday night's Big Finish began with a feverish "Walking on the Moon," followed by "So Lonely," "Desert Rose" and surprise! "Roxanne"!

The first encore gave us "Next To You," "Can't Stop Thinking About You" and an extended "Every Breath You Take." Then, as some of the audience was filing out, Sting came back on stage and topped things off with "Fragile," from 1987's "Nothing Like the Song." The song is the story of an American civil engineer killed in Nicaragua by the Contras in 1987.

"We'll end," he said, "with a song to keep us thinking."

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-770-6977


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