Sting is a man clearly comfortable in his own skin. He’s comfortable in his attire, too.
The rock star arrived in a canary (in a coal mine)-yellow suit, a black T-shirt and black work boots on Friday night to open his “My Songs” residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Conscious of his stage appearance, Sting asked if we liked the suit. Cheers. He was worried it might be “too yellow.” Never. The bumble-bee color scheme fits the name of the man born as Gordon Sumner.
Of course, a suit style has hardly anything to do with musicianship, how well the front man sings or what songs are played. He later joked that he’d seen Lady Gaga on Thursday night at Dolby Live, was “blown away” by her performance. However, he did notice she “changed costumes after every song.” He then took off his jacket and said, “This is my costume change.”
But through all of it Sting showed you can still look like a mature rock star at age of 70 while delivering hits dating 45 years. And he owned this show, a completely confident and stylish Vegas headline production.
Establishing a mood that was spirited and a tempo consistently “mid,” Sting and his crisp backing band performed most of the hits of his solo career and time with The Police. He never did mention that band specifically, but did open with a chic, unhurried take of “Roxanne,” with “Paris 1979” displayed on the screens. The curtains dropped for “Las Vegas 2021,” drawing a grateful cheer.
“Thank you for your patience,” Sting acknowledged, remarking that the residency was more than two years delayed. He later said he’d been advised that, in Vegas, you play “just the hits.”
“That’s all I have are (expletive) hits,” Sting said, drawing more cheers. It’s not far from the truth. “Every Breath You Take” was awarded by Broadcast Music Inc. as the most-played song in radio history. But he did perform a couple of selections from his latest album, “The Bridge,” including “Rushing Water” and “If It’s Love,” in which he sings several segments.
He explained that he has often heard folks whistling his songs during day-to-day activity, washing windows and such. “When you hear someone whistling your song, you know it’s a hit.”
The superstar made judicious use of his surroundings. “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” featured video of pinwheeling fireworks. A starry night flourished in “Walking On the Moon.” A sea of vintage, black-and-white TV screens backs “Every Breath You Take.”
But primarily, its the front man and his band, working together through his deep catalog of hits. Throughout, Sting plays his favorite instrument, a scarred but trusty 1957 Fender Precision Bass he’s owned for a quarter-century.
The headliner is casual and confident in his dialogue with the crowd. He described moving from the city to the English countryside, “Into a little house... OK, more like a castle.” The estate is surrounded by rolling barley fields. “Fields of Gold” is that ballad. The artist dedicated the song to his wife, Trudie Styler, who was in the audience, a moving touch to the residency premiere.
The team of players included the father-son tandem of veteran guitarist Dominic Miller and his son, Rufus, who is new to the band. For “Brand New Day,” Rufus plays the familiar harmonica licks, performed by Stevie Wonder in the studio. Sting reminds the crowd of Wonder’s contribution and said, “You have some big shoes to fill. Are you up for it?” Rufus gave a quick grin and performed the pieces perfectly.
The show ended with a return to “Roxanne,” the familiar original version; “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “Next To You” and a soft landing with the acoustic “Fragile.”
At the close, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (sic) hustled over to Sting’s side for the final bow, and energetically slapped his outstretched hand. It was a sign of excitement, something a teammate would do after a score. It was the right move. Looking like a champ, the man in yellow won the night.
(c) The Las Vegas Review-Journal by John Katsilometes