Toronto Star, Sunday, July 21, 1996

Entertainment Section, page C3

Headline: Stung by Sting and lovin' it

by Ira Band
Special To The Star

	He is known as a singer, a songwriter, musician, rock
star, environmental activist and semi-reluctant sex symbol.
	And now, after Friday night's sold-out performance at
Molson Amphitheatre, Sting can add to that list the role of
matchmaker and relationship counsellor.
	Mi-way through his eminently entertaining concert,
he invited a fan named John to join him onstage for the
curiously uptempo "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying," a song
about divorce.
	It turns out John was at the show with his girlfriend
of 12 years, a timespan that astonished the twice-married
Sting. It was also the woman's birthday.
	"Twelve years, and you haven't married her?!" he
gasped. "_And_ it's her birthday?!
	"Why don't you propose to her?" he insisted, before
performing the country-flavored tune about splitsville.
	"Have you asked her yet?" Sting called out after the
put-upon John had returned to his seat.
	John may have been playfully stung by Sting, but the
exchange roused the crowd to a feverish level.
	The high spirits were evident earlier when Sarah
McLachlan opened the show. Not that McLachlan is your typical
"opening act". A year ago, the Vancouver-based singer/composer
headlined a near sell-out show at this very site, and could
probably have done the same on her own this season.
	Friday night, she offered a somewhat eclectic showcase
of songs, backed by a spare but effective two-man band. Yet,
even when she strapped on an electric guitar for a couple of
raw, highly amplified numbers, McLachlan didn't escape the
cerebral and atmospheric textures that have become her trademark.
Still, the audience was reverent as she settled into majestic
deliveries of "The Path of Thorns", "Mary" and Joni Mitchell's
	Any and all ethereal traces evaporated the minute Sting
and his crack five-man band appeared onstage.
	A rich, earthy feel was the conceptual link for their
first four numbers, all of which appear on Sting's introspective
new album, _Mercury Falling_.
	Then it was time for the mercury to rise to near-boiling
with soulfully energetic takes on "If You Love Somebody Set Them
Free" and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," the latter
song dating from Sting's days as frontman for The Police, the
wildly inventive British trio that recorded five studio albums
from 1978-1983.
	While some quiet moments followed, namely 1993's "Field
of Gold," it was Police songs such as "Synchronicity," "Roxanne"
and "When The World Is Running Down (You Make The Best Of What's
Still Around)" that electrified the audience of 16,000, with Sting,
sax player Butch Thomas and trombonist Clark Gayton providing an
athletic, all-out physically.
	Sting's own highly physical presence brought out the
expected swooning, and he played it like a pro. "You love me?"
he responded with mock bemusement to one love-struck fan. "But
you hardly know me."
	Not that it mattered to the woman professing her love. Yet
Sting was able to rise above the sexual posing with songs that
reflected a soul-searching artist who is both sensitive and
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