Review, photos and video by Sophia Smith
Famed rocker Sting performed at Artpark on Tuesday, June 12.
Perfection. Magic. All under a star-filled sky and flawless evening weather in Lewiston. Sting and Police fans alike were dazzled in every way on this practically perfect concert night. With no opening band, the capacity Mainstage crowd was greeted by the legend bounding onto stage like a man half his age. Sting was resplendent in Police-era Jean Paul Gaultier skin-tight black leather pants, a well-worn (rather well-loved) T-shirt and hi-top sneaks. Under this rock-star façade, he was, of course, sporting his famous well-toned yoga bod.
Sting's current tour, "Back to Bass," is so named because that's his instrument and, in the '70s, he redefined how a rock band should sound with his bass playing. He alternated between a very much played and weathered Fender bass, to a different bass during Tuesday's show. It is obvious he has a connection to his oldest and dearest guitar, since he has written and performed many of his masterpieces on it.
With a relatively small entourage of five musicians, it seems Sting has streamlined his performing style. There were no neon lights, nor any type of visual accompaniments. It was pretty much just raw talent. Sting's voice and guitar work were solid, and highlighted by the simplicity. One colorful addition to the stage was his Moroccan star-shaped stool to hold his H20, which he sipped out of an actual glass, rather than a plastic water bottle (which would likely end up in a landfill). Sting is a celebrated environmental activist, and walks the walk.
Sting was charming and affable all night long, chatting up the audience in between songs with his humorous banter.
"After I made some money, I bought a castle in England, because that's what the English do," he said. He then regaled the crowd with his inspiration for "Fields of Gold," referring to the acres and acres of barley surrounding his castle in Wiltshire. He said, "I know there must be a song here somewhere," as he gazed on the sun-kissed barley. Indeed there was. He then, of course, played the song, one of his most popular solo hits.
One of the most exciting moments in the show was when Sting and gifted violinist Peter Tickell (also from Newcastle) jammed together - until the sweat was pouring and the violin strings were ripping. Clearly, they have amazing chemistry together on stage, and it was a spectacular display of their musical abilities.
The force of Sting's tsunami doesn't stop with near constant touring, writing new songs, performing at charity gigs and being a husband and father of six. He is also an aspiring writer of musical theater. He's just written a musical, "The Last Ship," which was inspired by the life he ran away from when he left Newcastle in 1977.
The son of a milkman and a hairdresser, he grew up in the shadow of Swan Hunter, the shipyard in Tyneside, England. "The Last Ship" seems semi-autobiographical - set in '80s Newcastle, where Sting was born and raised, and starring a character named Gideon (Sting's real name is Gordon).
After his glorious night at Artpark, Sting is off to Helsinki, Norway, France and countless other spots in Europe to wrap up the "Back to Bass" tour. Until he graces our doorstep again, we can surely count on the anointed one to take the theater world by storm with his upcoming musical.
For a slew of interviews, videos, an historical archive, and exclusive members-only offers, check out Sting's website, www.sting.com.