[More concert reporting from Karen Coughtrey (words) and Ross MacDonald (pictures). – AC]
It was finally a mild spring evening in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, the perfect night to spend time as a family. Among the crowds of couples and groups and friends entering the Canadian Tire Centre for the second Canadian stop on the Sting My Songs Tour, were families, showing the artist truly has intergenerational appeal.
“Family” would be somewhat of a theme for the night. Sting introduced his band early in the show and explained that his guitarist of 30 years Dominic Miller was now also joined by his eldest son Rufus Miller (also on guitar) and the son of one of his dearest friends, Shane Sager was the harmonicist. He introduced the rest of the band as family, too, and by the end of the night, in which Sting shared many stories and anecdotes everyone was sure to feel a more familial closeness to the artist.
Sting’s son Joe Sumner started the night performing alone with his guitar. He gained the love of the audience right away as he had nothing but nice things to say about our fair capital and its people. He played eight songs including his two current singles ‘Hope’ and ‘You You You’. He also played the Star Wars theme in recognition of Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you) and played a sweet song he wrote for his kids ‘Jellybean’. He also knew this was a big night, likely full of nostalgia, for many in the crowd and had the audience join him to warm up their voices on the song from his band, Fiction Plane, ‘Two Sisters’.
Ottawa demonstrated they were there for a good time and were on their feet, dancing, clapping, and singing loudly along from the second Sting took the stage and played the first chords of ‘Message in a Bottle’ and many remained standing all the way to the last notes of the night.
Sting’s voice is as beautiful as ever and he thrilled the crowd with favourites such as ‘Englishman in New York’, ’Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’, and ‘Every Breath You Take’. He would also perform new songs, from his latest album The Bridge (Nov 2021), and the crooner-like songs, ‘If It’s Love’, ‘For her Love’, and ‘Loving You’ were well received by the audience. Throughout the night, the visuals behind the band had a distinctive 70’s Television feel to them in their colour palette and patterns and at times felt like one was looking through a teak room divider at a groovy alternate reality just beyond reach.
As he’s known to do, Sting added a variety of musical styles to his performance. Shane Sager was stellar on the harmonica, particularly while playing the Stevie Wonder part on ‘Brand New Day’ and the performance of ‘So Lonely’ had both a reggae and punk rock feel as it was mixed with a cover of ‘No Woman No Cry. Back-up vocalist Gene Noble got to show off his pipes in a duet mixing Juice WRLD’s ‘Lucid Dreams’ into Sting’s performance of ‘Shape Of My Heart’, a truly beautiful highlight of the night. Desert Rose of course had an irresistible world beat feel and Sting snuck some of Ella Fitzgerald’s Jazz classic ‘It don’t mean a thing’, even skatting, into crowd favourite ‘Roxanne’.
It is Sting’s custom to end the evening with a song that is quiet and thoughtful in order to send the crowd home quiet and thoughtful and he finished the night with the title track of his new album, ‘The Bridge’. With lyrics “We are but bags of blood and bone, if we carry the weight of our sons and our daughters’ it circled the night back to the theme of family while sending the crowd home to theirs.
Sting – lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
Dominic Miller – guitar
Zach Jones – drums
Rufus Miller – guitar
Kevon Webster – keyboards
Shane Sager – harmonica
Melissa Musique – backing vocals, percussion
Gene Noble – backing vocals