SHOW REVIEW

There's nothing to mend on Sting's 'Broken Music' tour. In fact it's perfect...

Whether it's a mid-life crisis or just a nostalgic trip down memory lane for the 54-year-old rocker, it doesn't matter: This is the best tour Sting has done in a long time as a solo artist ... maybe ever.

''This tour is about me finding my rock roots,'' Sting told the sold-out crowd Friday, the first night of a two-show stop at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. ''I am going to sing a a lot of songs I haven't sung in many, many years ... like 'My Sharona.'''

OK, the England native may not have rolled out any Knack tunes, but he did play more Police songs than he has in a great while.

Dressed in a black suit, sporting a soul patch and artificially lightened hair, the bassist assaulted the audience right out of the gate with four Police songs in a row - the catchy 'Message in a Bottle', the heavy 'Demolition Man', 'Spirits in the Material World' and 'Synchronicity II', one of the night's highlights. By the end of the night, twelve of the night's 21 songs were recorded by The Police.

Supported by a stellar three-piece band that included A Perfect Circle drummer Josh Freese, Sting made the audience realize they were in for something special when he pulled out 'I Hung My Head' from his arsenal, a relatively unknown solo tune that Johnny Cash recorded.

There would be many more of these surprises along the way, including '90s solo goodies like the jazz-blues hybrid 'Heavy Cloud', the poppy ballad 'Why Should I Cry For You', the energetic 'When the World Is Running Down' and 'End of the Game', which was never released on any of Sting's albums. He may have even taken the surprises a bit too far by ending the 90-minute night on his second encore with 'Lithium Sunset', an obscure Sting track to say the least.

Although the crowd ate up the surprises, including a killer rendition of The Beatles 'A Day in the Life', which started simple and erupted into the rock anthem it is, the audience reacted strongly to the hits.

From his solo career, Sting really shined on the smashes 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Fields of Gold'. But it was The Police material that got the crowd really pumped.

Aside from some shocking but appreciated choices including 'Driven to Tears', 'Voices In My Head' and 'Next To You', the Borgata seemed like it was shaking when Sting pumped out the first four tunes of the night as well as 'Invisible Sun', 'King of Pain', 'Every Breath You Take' and his signature 'Roxanne', which of course turned into a massive sing-a-long.

The most amazing thing about the concert was Sting's vocals. Unlike some past tours, where the legendary vocalist cheated on some tunes by dropping choruses into a different octave, Sting was hitting all of the right notes, sounding just like his records.

The last time Sting hit Borgata, he brought along an 18-piece band to help him reproduce the jazzy pop sounds he's been experimenting with on albums like 'Brand New Day' and 'Sacred Love'. This time around, those albums were completely forgotten.

As a four-piece band with no stage theatrics, Sting let the music do all of the talking, looking like he was having the most fun on stage in years as he jammed with his buddies.

If Sting wants to continue to call this tour ''Broken,'' let's hope he doesn't fix it.

(c) The Press of Atlantic City by Scott Cronick

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