Sting brings the orchestra to Cruzan, finds success, swoons...
When a rock act brings in classical musicians to work with them in a live setting, it's a risk.
Sometimes it can prove amazing - Metallica pulled it off well, and we've seen it happen with good effect for Pink Floyd or even recent indie bands like Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear.
But it can also come off pretentious. That somehow, these 3-minute-plus songs can instantly measure up to Mozart.
Fortunately, more often than not, the crossover into classical worked for Sting.
Part of the reason was the musicians he surrounded himself with - the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was flawless, while longtime cohort Dominic Miller fit smoothly into the mix on guitar, leading a group of rockers that seemed to knit themselves right into the sound.
The other part? Let's face it - Sting has a presence. He strode on stage dressed almost entirely in black - with just a white shirt under his vest and jacket - slender with his short shock of golden hair. He is remarkably fit for 58 years of age - not shocking for those who've followed his career, but seeing him live makes you wonder how he does it.
And when he began 'When We Dance', there was an audible swoon from the crowd.
But there were some remarkable musical moments in this evening. Several times, a classical arrangement added to the song - in some cases, improving the song dramatically. 'Russians', from Sting's 1984 debut 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles', gained needed bombast and heft. Already one of The Police's finest moments, 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' picked up the kind of sweep never dreamed of back in Sting's punkier days.
(There were times when it didn't quite work as well, however - I've heard this version of "Roxanne" referred to as haunting, but I didn't see that.)
Sting also made a smart move in bringing along Australian jazz vocalist Jo Lawry as his female counterpoint - her role was far more than mere backup singer. She stepped in for Mary J. Blige without any difficulties on 'Whenever I Say Your Name', and did the same for Allison Krauss on 'You Will Be My Ain True Love' from the film Cold Mountain.
OK, the show did devolve a bit into cheesy Vegas time when Sting showed off his still fit figure to adoring ladies during a slinky take on 'Desert Rose'. But this show was not too stuffy - it's not every day when you see an orchestra go pretty much full-on punk on The Police classic 'Next To You', after all.
Â© Palm Beach Post by Jonathan Tully