Sting showcases his changing style at Ravinia...
If there's one thing a Sting fan is used to, it's change.
From his start as the singer and bassist for The Police, to an ever evolving solo career that has encompassed blues, jazz, reggae, country and even Elizabethan lute music, Sting is nothing if not a Renaissance man.
In this newest incarnation, he replaces the synthesizer with a symphony, appearing at Ravinia Saturday in the first of two sold-out shows pairing with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, conducted with gusto by Steven Mercurio ("the biggest band I ever had," Sting quipped), 'Symphonicity', showcases hits from Sting's career going back as far as 'Roxanne'.
Yet, unlike the Police reunion a few years back, this was no nostalgia act. While the 58-year-old performer drew from all areas of his repertoire, he adapted and reworked the music, allowing the orchestra to seamlessly transform the familiar into something new and fresh.
And while rock music and symphonies don't always make the best marriage, this combination succeeded on a number of levels. Sting's melodies, for starters, have enough depth and richness to stand up to an orchestra. His rendition of 'Russians', for example was full force, dramatic and almost - but not quite - over the top.
Yet, he's flexible enough to let his music be altered as an orchestral treatment. 'Roxanne' was delivered balladlike, slow, subdued and showcased by a cellist.
Dressed in black jeans and a cropped tuxedo jacket, Sting took the stage with his usual "sultry swagger," relaxed and gracious. The highbrow level was definitely toned down from singalongs to a dancing horn section to the playful jumps and flips of Mercurio.
Guitarist Dominic Miller and singer Jo Lawry, Sting stalwarts, also held their own against the backdrop of the orchestra. One of the highlights of the evening was the duet between Sting and Lawry on 'Whenever I Say Your Name' with Lawry's dramatic command of the song a match for Sting.
'King of Pain', while a little bogged down in the beginning, brought the crowd to its feet. He finished the night with 'Every Breath You Take', with encore performances of 'Desert Rose', 'She's Too Good for Me' and 'Fragile', which he dedicated to the victims of the Gulf oil spill disaster, in true Sting style.
Â© Chicago Daily Herald by Eileen Brown