I wonder if a punk from New Castle, England coming of age in the 70’s would have ever thought that later in his life he would be on a world tour with the Royal Philharmonic? For Sting, this idea has to cross his mind night in and night out on his latest tour. Backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Steven Marcurio, Sting is on the road touring opera houses and amphitheaters in support of his latest, Symphonicities. The record is a reinterpretation and rearrangements of his classic songs from his solo career and Police days as well as deep cuts and rarities.
Yet, the master of zen who has transformed himself into the master of ceremonies, performed for two and a half hours and at 58 years old, looks as young and as fresh as he did when he was a young punk. Opening with “Every Little Thing She does is Magic,” Sting had the audience guessing as the orchestra did their overture and with these new rearrangements the iconic rhythms of his songs are gone and completely new. It would not be until Sting would start to belt out the verses that people would sing along. As the audience enjoyed the guessing game of the set list all night, Sting would take time in between each song and told the story and origins of each song. As rock and roll met classical music, it felt as intimate as possible on a picture perfect night. “Jones Beach, this is one of my favorite places in the whole world to play,” Sting said just as he got into “Englishman in New York.” As the night went on, it was his B-sides, rarities and deep cuts like “Russians,” “Bourbon Street,” and “Hung my Head,” a song later made famous by Johnny Cash, would display the Royal Philharmonic’s power. As the crowd at Jones Beach would sit in awe and wonder, they would also sit in surprise as he would completely change his iconic rhythms and melodies to “Roxanne,” “Every Breathe you Take,” and “King of Pain.” The only song from his catalogue that would sound anything like the original version would be his turn of the century smash hit, “Desert Rose.”
It was the tale of two Stings as the last time audiences saw him on the road was just a few years ago with his first band The Police, a tour which we and they all knew was for money. However, this reinvention of his solo work seems to have revitalized Sting in such profound ways. He seems to be extremely proud of what he is doing, even after years of dabbling with old English folk songs and instruments; this seems to be a dream realized. Again, I wonder if that young punk had planned this event all along…..