Small Mark crowd thrilled by Sting...
One of the biggest solo names ever to play the Mark of the Quad Cities made the most inauspicious of entrances Saturday night.
Sting, almost unrecognized by the audience, walked to the microphone and apologized for the absence of opening act Jill Scott, a Grammy-nominated R&B singer who was hospitalized earlier this week with a lung infection.
''I don't normally come out at this time of night,'' the singer told a sparse audience at the Mark.
After introducing his guitarist, Dominic Miller, who performed a 20-minute set, Sting made another surprise appearance on 'Shape of My Heart', from 'Ten Summoner's Tales'.
The night indeed belonged to Sting, who captivated an audience of about 8,000, alternating between album cuts and his numerous hits.
After making his entrance on 'If You Love Someone, Set Them Free', Sting rattled through a variety of musical genres, from world music to jazz to country to hip-hop. He spoke little during the two-hour concert, joking briefly as he stripped down to what has become his on-stage uniform: a tank top and camouflage pants.
''If you saw 'Ally McBeal' last week, you can't sue me for looking at your wife,'' he said, referring to an episode of the television show about lawyers, in which he made a guest appearance as himself. ''Forget it.''
He performed many of his own solo hits, including 'We'll Be Together', 'All This Time', 'Brand New Day' and 'Fields of Gold'. He also included several hits of The Police, including 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Roxanne'.
The only thing that would have made the Saturday-night concert better would have been a couple of thousand more fans. The disappointing number of audience members still were thrilled by a guided tour of decades of hits.
Why the disappointing crowd size? It could not have been a lack of publicity. High ticket prices? Upcoming acts Janet Jackson and Eric Clapton are charging more; Bon Jovi, just announced for July 11, has comparable ticket prices. With recent appearances everywhere from ''Ally McBeal'' to the ''Today'' show in the past few weeks, it's not like Sting's been in hiding.
A published story recently suggested that parents do not mind spending 100 bucks to send their kids to Destiny's Child or 'N Sync but will not shell out the same money themselves.
If grown-ups want to keep seeing grown-up music at the Mark, they had better start supporting it.
(c) The Cedar Rapids Gazette by David Burke