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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThroughout the last decade, Sting's tours have centered around everything from the lute to a symphony to a reunion with The Police. Though there's never predicting exactly what musical mood he'll be in throughout a given year, the veteran's currently celebrating a major solo milestone with the new box set 25 Years (A&M) and subsequent concert trek that finds the versatile player heading back to bass.
The decision wasn't exactly daring, but it was certainly more than welcome after so much experimentation as of late and he sounded absolutely superb on both that primary instrument and vocally throughout the Chicagoland show's opener "All This Time." While fans were treated to the intimacy of the Rosemont Theatre (as opposed to a stadium like The Police's last hurrah), Sting still dived right into his reggae/punk/rock beginnings with the band's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and "Demolition Man."
Additional variety came during "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" and "I Hung My Head," two fairly authentic flirtations with country that earned a much deserved dusting off after having spent several years in the vault. Sting dug back even further for the '80s favorite "Fortress Around Your Heart," though it was far from dated in this sophisticated, jazz-tinged format.
After detouring towards the sleepy, adult contemporary ballad "Fields of Gold," the momentum continued building thanks to the poetic "Love Is Stronger Than Justice" and the howling "The Hounds of Winter," two additional examples of Sting's mining through the deeper cuts of his vast career. Though the first encore was more widely familiar in comparison, the middle eastern-influenced "Desert Rose" still pulsated vividly, while "Every Breath You Take" sounded sweet, despite being the billionth time it was performed.
Surprisingly, Sting kept his focus on The Police throughout two additional encores. "Next To You" exploded with the punk-ish power of his youth, while "Message In a Bottle" transcended time in solo contexts. By the end of the two hour, 22-track evening, the singer truly touched on all his personal and collaborative crests, while affirming his status as one of rock's most regarded and dexterous veterans.
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