Sting and orchestra bring magic to Montreux jazz fest
By Stephanie Nebehay
MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Sting performed Police and solo hits including "Roxanne," "Every Breath You Take" and "Englishman in New York" in orchestral arrangement, bringing a sell-out audience at Montreux Jazz Festival to its feet.
The fit 59-year-old Briton and his "Symphonicity" tour delivered an energetic two-hour show on Monday night on the famed stage of the annual prestigious Swiss summer event.
"I'm very happy to be here with the Bochum Symphony Orchestra," Sting, speaking in French, told the crowd of 3,300 fans of all ages, some of whom paid more than $200 for a seat in Stravinski Auditorium.
Bathed in red light, he then sang "Roxanne," playing his acoustic guitar for The Police's 1978 hit that tells a tale of a man falling in love with a prostitute.
Sting, sporting a tight-fitting grey t-shirt, opened with "Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic," setting the tone for a high-energy evening marked by conductor Sarah Hicks dancing in high heels as she led the German orchestra.
The full force of its drums and horns came through on numbers including "Russians."
A white spotlight shone on first violinist Christine Fischer-Eisenbrand for her solo in "Whenever I Say Your Name." Sting was accompanied in the duet by Australian back-up vocalist Jo Lawry for the 2003 track he recorded with Mary J. Blige.
Sting joined in on harmonica for "Fields of Gold," with a tambourine for songs including "Straight to my Heart," then returned to his acoustic guitar for "(Moon Over) Bourbon Street." Dominic Miller and co-writer of some compositions including "Shape of my Heart" was on electric guitar throughout.
The Police frontman and winner of 16 Grammy Awards who has sold nearly 100 million records earned thunderous applause for "King of Pain." He then brought the crowd to its feet for the rest of the night with "Every Breath You Take" followed by encores of "Desert Rose," "She's Too Good for Me" and "Fragile."
Sting closed with "Message in a Bottle," the crowd joining in the refrain.
Last week the activist abruptly canceled a performance in the Astana Day Festival in Kazakhstan, voicing support for striking oil and gas workers in the former Soviet republic.
"Hunger strikes, imprisoned workers and tens of thousands on strike represents a virtual picket line which I have no intention of crossing," he said in a statement on his website.
Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin opened the two-week Montreux festival along Lake Geneva that closes on Saturday with Deep Purple. Rapper Doom is standing in for Mos Def on Thursday, organizers said in an overnight statement that gave no reason.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)