When it comes to iconic rock legends, Sting sits at the top of the list. His career has spanned nearly 40 years, and includes time spent as both a frontman for Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Police and as a solo artist. And yet despite years in the spotlight, somehow he still looks youthful and vibrant, comfortable in his own skin and both able and willing to perform at the top of his game at any given time — which he will do when he comes to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3.
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Anyone who has seen him perform live can attest to the fact that despite his age — he’ll be 66 this October — his vocals are as powerful as they were when he first belted out the opening lines to “Roxanne” in 1978. Trying to figure out what you will hear at a Sting show can be a tricky game. Never content to simply play the songs as they were written, Sting is prone to radically alter arrangements of his songs, adding elements of jazz and world music while maintaining the spirit of the tune. You can be sure of one thing though, whatever he chooses to throw at the audience, it will be spectacular.
The best of the best
It would be hard to walk out of a Sting concert without enjoying these mega hits in all their glory. Here are our Top 5 “must-hear” songs for Sunday’s show … and one in semi-obscurity, just for fun.
“Roxanne” Some voices are just instantly recognizable the second you hear them. Such is the case for Sting, but perhaps no vocal of his sounds as Sting-ish as when he belts out “Roooooxanne…” for the first time in this legendary single off of the first Police record, 1978’s “Outlandos d’Amour.” Leaving this off the setlist would be the equivalent of inviting everyone over and then not serving the turkey on Thanksgiving. Sure, you can do it, but expect a lot of complaints from the crowd.
“Desert Rose” This track off of Sting’s 1999 album “Brand New Day” managed to serve as a sort of comeback for Sting, who had not enjoyed major success on the singles charts in a few years prior to this realease. Dripping with atmospheric, Middle-Eastern flavors (including some prominent backup vocals from Algerian singer Cheb Mami), the song soars on the wings of an almost hypnotic melody, as the instrumentation works to create one of the most impressively grand sounding tracks in Sting’s entire catalog.
“Every Breath You Take” A signature song if ever there was one, this classic track off of The Police’s 1983 album “Synchronicity” may be an ode to a stalker, but it’s the catchiest stalker song we’ve ever heard. The song has retained its freshness despite near constant airplay and that god-awful Puff Daddy version from the late ’90s. A crowd sing along is pretty much guaranteed on this one.
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“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” Every great concert has moments built in where you can dance with reckless abandon, losing yourself in the joy of the moment. For Sting fans that moment will come any time he breaks into this most-beloved track off of The Police’s fourth record, 1981’s “Ghost in The Machine.” The song is about a pop sounding as The Police ever got, but serves as a light-hearted bit of fresh air from a band that has occasionally been accused of taking themselves too seriously.
“Fields of Gold” A single off Sting’s 1993 solo album “Ten Summoner’s Tales” this song has become one of the most recognizable in his catalog despite failing to crack the Top 20 in either America or the UK. A lush, wistful sounding tune of a bit slower pace, the song is said to be inspired by the view of the barley fields rippling in the wind outside the singer’s 16th century Wiltshire manor home.
And one more just for fun …
“I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” OK, so nobody is likely to call this not-so-well-known single off of Sting’s 1996 album “Mercury Falling” a “mega hit,” but the song is so unique among Sting’s work that it had to be mentioned. A mid-tempo country song (which was later covered by Toby Keith), the lyrics deal with the day-to-day difficulties of a man whose wife has suddenly left him for another man, taken their children and is now going through divorce proceedings. A rare subject amongst pop songs — or any songs for that matter — Sting paints such an incredibly clear and focused picture of this domestic scenario and the pain that accompanies it. It forces the listener to empathize. Truth be told, it’s tough not to shed a few tears when listening to this one, despite the toe-tapping square-dancey soundscape that sits behind it. Lines like, “She says the kids are fine, and that they miss me … maybe I could come and babysit sometime,” are truly crushing within the context of the song, yet somehow the chorus makes for a perfect crowd sing-along.
Three fun facts about Sting
It’s just a nickname. Sting’s real name is Gordon Sumner. The nickname “Sting” came about due to a black and yellow sweater he used to wear which earned him comparisons to that of a bee. At this point even his own family members call him Sting though.
He’s rocking again. His current tour is in support of his most recent album, 2016’s “57th and 9th” which is actually the first rock-based record he has recorded in 13 years.
He is a quitter? He decided to leave The Police while onstage at Shea Stadium in 1983. At the time, he felt that playing such a venue meant that the band had reached the top and there was nowhere else to go, prompting him to begin his solo career.