Musical trends tend to run in cycles. Style changes occur every five to ten years. The mid to late 1960's brought us the British bands. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin changed the musical world. In the early 70's, the singer-songwriter era took over. James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, CSN&Y, Jackson Browne, Eagles and Carole King were among the artists that topped the charts. Who would follow them?
The next cycle brought us the punk and new wave musical era. The Punk scene brought us bands like The Clash and Sex Pistols. The New Wave genre gave us The Cars and Talking Heads.
Then there was The Police. The trio featured Andy Summer on guitar, Stewart Copeland on drum and the face of the band was Sting, who was the main songwriter, vocalist and bassist. You could hear the influences of punk, new wave, reggae and jazz in their style of rock music.
Their first album was Outlandos d'Amour in 1978. It featured "Roxanne", "So Lonely" and "Can't Stand Losing You." Regatta de Blanc was the follow up a year later. It included more hits like "Message in a Bottle." Each following year brought a new album with new hits. It culminated in 1983 with the release of Synchronicity. This was their biggest album and had the monster hits "King of Pain' and the Grammy winning "Every Breath You Take." At this point, you could make the case that The Police were the world's biggest band.
All good things usually come to an end. Not every band has a fifty year run like the Rolling Stones. Most stick around for a few years, tire of each other, look for something better and split up. That's The Police. They were done making new albums after Synchronicity. they were done touring a year later. Less than ten years and done! It was time for the solo careers.
Sting's career as a solo artist began with "The Dream of the Blue Turtles" album, in 1985. It was nominated for a Grammy in the Album of the Year category. It featured the song "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free." While it was a good start, the album lacked the edge of the tunes of The Police. Two years later came the follow-up of "Nothing Like the Sun." Again, another nice record, but something was missing.
Over the next thirty years, Sting has delivered eleven more albums. He has more than doubled his production as a solo performer than with The Police. More doesn't necessarily mean better. As the years went by, I missed the groundbreaking musician of the 1970's. I admit that my opinion might be in the minority, because Sting found a new audience with his solo music. He's made a lot of new fans, which led to record sales, sold out concerts and plenty of money.
In May, Sting released the new album, "My Songs." It's a collection of fifteen of his songs from both The Police and his solo career. Some of them have been remixed, while others are new recordings. To support the album, a worldwide tour followed. The first two months took place in Europe. A second, eight date, leg of the tour came to the United States this weekend.
The first two shows took place at suburban Highland Park's Ravinia Festival. Two questions surrounded the performances:
How would Sting's voice hold up? He had some throat issues which caused him to cancel some European shows.
Would we see solo Sting or the Sting of The Police...or somewhat in between?
The set lists from the European concerts shows that the songs are a true mix from both portions of his career. Lots of tunes to make everyone happy.
Sting opened his Friday concert with "Message in a Bottle", followed up by "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" and went on to play almost two hours of one hit after another after another. He welcomed the audience during those first two songs and the only time he stopped playing was to introduce the band. His voice was solid during the close two hours of constant music.
It was a great evening of great music. The only complaint, and it's a major one at Ravinia, is the constant chatter on the lawn takes away from hearing the music. I never understood why people would pay fifty dollars to talk to their friends. You can do that for free in your back yards at home.
So who's the winner....Sting of the Police or solo Sting? Since The Police no longer exist, although never say never, you have to go with this version of Sting. Still I miss that guy that got my musical juices going back in the 70's. Friday night, Sting showed that at least part of that dude is still there.
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