Sting Goes Back To The Rock During Sold Out Wiltern Theatre Show In LA
The end-of-Thanksgiving-weekend LA crowd was trying to be their typical cool laid back self, but, Mr. Gordon Sumner had other ideas.
The legendary artist, known as Sting, came with one goal in mind- to snap a sold out Cyber Monday crowd out of it’s doldrums. This was the first of a three night stand at the historic Wiltern Theatre. With his Back To Bass Tour, Sting has left behind the pomp and theatrics of his last symphony-driven crossing of the US. He has traded it for a stripped-down rock driven sound that reminds us that he belongs in the pantheon of the greatest songwriters of all-time.
As the crowd sauntered in, you could see Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler, introducing Melanie Griffith to her industry friends. There was a warm and kicked-back family feeling in the venue. When the lights went out, you could tell that it was going to be a challenge for Sting to get the people out of their chairs. The band kicked into the driving groove of “All This Time,” and the Englishman in LA hit the stage.
This was not just any band that was backing Sting. He was back together with drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, who is drumming’s elite and seems to have been created to play Sting’s music. Some of us had been waiting almost 20 years to see this bass and drums rhythm section reunited. We are not sure you could find a deeper groove than the one laid down on this evening. The classy, composed and uber-talented long time Sting guitarist, Dominic Miller, was not only at his best- he brought his son Rufus along to play rhythm guitar. Peter Tickell, who would steal the scene on a few animated fiddle-solos, rounded out the trademark sound. Jo Lawry’s backup vocals were understated, yet they soared through the evening.
The reggae-influenced Police classic “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” caused some singing and swaying, throughout the room. But, it was a roaring rendition of “Seven Days” that really broke through. “Demolition Man” was a straight up rocker and “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” featured Sting’s country twang and introduction that “this is a song about divorce.” He also mentioned country star Toby Keith, who had taken the song to #1 on the charts.
Sting is the consummate gentleman- at the same time humbly simple and deeply thoughtful. His witty banter and storytelling between songs invited each person deeper into the experience. At one point, while introducing the mega-hit “Fields Of Gold,” Sting caught himself talking about living in his house in England and said, “Well, to tell the truth, it’s more like a castle.” This brought down the house.
Gathering from over three decades of solo work, the night continued it’s upbeat trend with, “a song that the late Johnny Cash covered,” “I Hung My Head,” and the bass dominated 80’s track “Driven To Tears.” The musical highlights of the show were “Love Is Stronger Than Justice,” from Ten Summoner’s Tales and the opening track of the Mercury Falling album, “The Hounds Of Winter.” Both tracks were carried away into extended sweeping improvisational jams that finally brought the crowd to their feet. The stage was set for the night’s climax.
By the end of the evening, a number of the seated audience had gathered in the back of the venue to dance, cuddle and be closer to the bar. When the familiar guitar chimes of “Every Breath You Take” rang out, the party was on… Sting and company left the stage to a roaring standing ovation… They didn’t take the usual few minutes to come back out for the encore, but, raced back to their instruments to launch into the Police punk classic, “Next To You.” The Wiltern was bouncing.
After the final bows, Sting gave the Los Angeles faithful something to sing as they filtered out into the night. Alone, with a classical guitar, he quickly serenaded his fans with the epic, “Message In A Bottle.” Mission accomplished, Mr. Sumner.
SETLIST STING AT THE WILTERN THEATRE LOS ANGELES: