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Is Sting the most laid-back rock star on the planet?

Keaton Bell / Red Dirt Report
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OKLAHOMA CITY – If you caught his show at the Verizon Theatre the other night, the most recent stop on his 57th & 9th Tour, that was one of the biggest takeaways. The 65-year old walked onstage with barely a spotlight shining on him as he waved to a crowd and sat down in the middle of the stage, guitar in hand.

“It’s good to be back, the first time I came to Dallas was in 1979 at The Palladium,” Sting said. “I must’ve been about 12!” 

And while Sting made it clear he was only warming us up with a tune before the opening acts, he had the crowd in the palm of his hands when he launched into “Heading South on the Great North Road.” The melancholic tune may not have quite set the tone for the loud and rollicking night of music that was to come, but it was the perfect introduction to Sting the storyteller.

Anyone who doesn’t believe talent is hereditary hasn’t seen Joe Sumner, Sting’s son. He bears such a striking resemblance to his father with a voice to match that I had to check a few times to make sure it wasn’t Sting himself. While his music’s more on the folk side, the similarities between the two are decidedly eerie. 

After The Last Bandoleros opened up the house with their country-leaning set, Sting came onstage to the sounds of The Police’s “Synchronicity II.” Rocking a simple black t-shirt and charming grin, the crowd filled the air with brightly-lit smartphones and rapturous applause. 

With the two opening acts a part of the backing band, Sting set forth on a night that was a celebration of his days with The Police and equally impactful solo career. 

The tour is in support of Sting’s most recent album, last November’s stellar 57th & 9th, so the set list was unsurprisingly packed with cuts from it. While some fans may groan at artists who focus on their newer material instead of the work that made them famous, Sting gave his all to every single song regardless of whether or not you knew the words. 

While I was familiar with 57th & 9th going into the show, Sting’s emotive tenor brought them to vibrant, beautiful life. “One Fine Day” and “Down, Down, Down” were particularly stunning, but it was his encore performance of “The Empty Chair” that brought the house to tears.

Sting may be best known for his contributions to The Police, but his solo efforts have stood the test of time on their own merits. Along with being an electric performer, Sting truly is one of the greatest songwriters alive. “Englishman In New York” and “Shape of My Heart” may be more low-tempo songs, but seeing them live gives you a new appreciation for how expertly crafted they are. 

But when he busted into his discography of hits and undeniable classics, Sting and the crowd lit up in a way that only music has the power to produce. The Police are one of the greatest groups to come out of the ‘80s (or any other decade for that matter), and their music still holds up as a shining example of the pure pleasures of New Wave. 

“Sprits in the Material World” and “Walking on the Moon” may not be the most popular Police songs, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the way the crowd hung on to every word. “Message In A Bottle” was delivered with fire and a breakdown near the end that lingered on Sting’s heavenly vocals. And I don’t even know how to express the euphoria the crowd underwent when Sting launched into Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” before segueing into “Roxanne” (with red lights flashing on the stage, of course).

The crowd was so amped up by the time Sting stepped offstage that the demand for an encore was immediately. We liked when he sang The Police’s 1978 “Next To You,” but lost our minds when he finished up with their signature hit: “Every Breath You Take.” 

Egos tend to run rampant in rock music, but Sting is the definition of a gentleman. He didn’t take himself too seriously during the two-and-a-half-hour show and brushed off some minor technical glitches with a shrug. He always made sure to express his gratitude to the sold-out crowd and balanced the potent emotion of his music with a sort of goofy charm sorely missing from most arena shows.

Sting’s proven himself as one of rock’s most enduring icons, and his show Monday night demonstrated why. Between his charismatic stage presence and knack for musical storytelling, there’s simply no one else like him.

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About the Author

Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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