Sting has been on the rock music charts since 1978 when The Police released their debut album, Outlandos d’Amour featuring the hit singles “Roxanne,” “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “So Lonely.” With their breath-of-fresh-air reggae rhythms and punk undertones, the trio of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland soared high through five studio albums and numerous sold out tours. Sting released his first solo album in 1985, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, and for the next thirty-one years has become nothing short of a living legend – with hit records, awards and inductions into hall of fames; has acted in movies, created plays, written a memoir, been an outspoken conservationist and advocate for the power of yoga.
But when Sting filmed the April, 2017 Paris stop on his most recent tour, it appears that he chose to humble down and let it only be about the music – in fact, he rarely spoke to the audience and when he did he, naturally, spoke to them in fluent French. That being said, Sting: Live At The Olympia Paris does something so rare on a live DVD it comes as quite a surprise when you pull up the Bonus Section: he actually gives video space to his opening artists. Both Joe Sumner (his son) and The Last Bandoleros, whom opened for and were utilized as backup singers on his American tour, perform songs from their sets. It’s a really cool thing and maybe more artists will use their Bonus Features time more wisely with a few props to their opening acts.
The body of the film is, of course, Sting and his band performing songs from Gordon Sumner’s nom de plume illustrious career. When I last saw Sting in 2010, he was in a jacket with a philharmonic symphony behind him. This year, he decided to let his inner rocker come forward once again. He opened with “Synchronicity II” from the last record he made with The Police in 1983 and kept going with tunes like “Spirits In The Material World,” “One Fine Day,” “Message In A Bottle” and “Fields Of Gold.”
But it is when Sting goes into that reggae/shuffle swing beat is when he is at his best. From “So Lonely,” “Englishman In New York” and “Walking On The Moon” to “Roxanne” interspersed with “Ain’t No Sunshine” sung in a breathy lullaby-like voice, that his love for the roots of his music appears in all it’s glory.
Son Joe Sumner, who first gained attention with the band Fiction Plane, comes up front to sing the Bowie song “Ashes To Ashes” while his father stands in the shadows playing bass. Percy Cardona plays accordion on several songs (“She’s Too Good For Me” and “Pretty Young Soldier”). Sting’s longtime guitar player Dominic Miller is a pleasure to listen to and does a guitar duo solo with his son Rufus.
If you caught Sting on the American leg of his 57th & 9th tour earlier in 2017, then you know that one of the fun parts of the show was when Sting and Joe joined the Last Bandoleros for their song “Where Do You Go?” which is included on their portion of the DVD/BluRay.
So he didn’t do “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” or “Moon Over Bourbon Street” or even “Russians,” which has a very modern day lyrical importance. What he did give was a good even walk through his songwriter’s catalog, ending with a quiet, beautiful and poignant “Fragile.”