SHOW REVIEW

Showing a serious side to the world...

The name of Sting's latest tour, 'Broken Music,' suggests he's been rethinking his nearly 30-year career as well as the general state of the music industry.

He confirmed as much Friday night at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center when he told the sold-out crowd he'd been exploring his roots and repaying musical debts.

Surprisingly, that meant largely ignoring his latest solo album, 'Sacred Love,' and delving into the rich catalog of tunes he penned while fronting the Police in the 1980s.

''That means you'll be hearing songs such as... 'My Sharona,''' he quipped, instantly warming the sedate crowd. The Knack's one big hit wasn't on the set list, but neither was the performance a greatest-hits revue.

Instead, Sting leaned heavily on songs that explored his social conscience - once again timely gems such as 'Driven To Tears,' 'Invisible Sun' and 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around.'

The obligatory hits - 'Roxanne,' 'Every Breath You Take' and so on - were dutifully rolled out at the end, but the focus was clearly on the individual's relationship with the world versus a romantic partner.

His latest back-up band was ideally suited for the task. The trio, featuring ubiquitous drumming ace Josh Freese and Sting's longtime guitarist, Dominic Miller, kept the songs lean and dynamic.

The production itself was equally stripped-down. The matte-black stage, simple lighting rig and white backdrop provided a welcome counterpoint to the industry standard of spectacle, bombast and taped backing tracks.

Armed with his high-watt charisma, a slim-fitting suit and a stylistically diverse catalog of classics, Sting transformed the cavernous sports arena into an intimate rock club.

(c) The Plain Dealer by Robert Cherry

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