What if Sting was misunderstood all along, and he’s really just a family guy cooing songs to his children?
He was known as the King of Pain, the Ghost in the Machine, the Demolition Man who broke up your favorite band, The Police. He had a reputation for activism and “tantric sex” (denied by his wife). Videos and acting roles portrayed him as a dark, sexy gentleman or the bad boy Ace Face in Quadrophenia.
But while he was writing and performing your favorite songs about Murder by Numbers and the prostitute Roxanne, Gordon Sumner was a young father whose material, in retrospect, often sounds like nursery rhymes to his kids such as Joe Sumner, born in 1976 and raised while Sting was becoming world famous.
Now his talented son Joe is opening solo for his Dad, doing backing vocals and giving Sting a break mid-concert by singing Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes. He looks and sounds like his father.
At the ancient Roman arena in Pula, Croatia, a love-able side of Sting emerges. Sting, as it turns out, is a family man, beaming on stage with the look of a proud patriarch. He’s also employing the father-son team of guitarists Dominic and Rufus Miller.
Inspired by the historic setting, Sting’s vocals sounded better than ever on peppy, playful old Police classics such as Synchronicity II, Spirits in the Material World, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Message in a Bottle, Walking on the Moon, So Lonely and Roxanne, as well as his bigger solo hits (Englishman in New York, Fields of Gold, Desert Rose) and songs including Petrol Head and 50,000 from his upbeat new album 57th and 9th. Sting even jumped for joy early in the show.
Sting was always more about love and compassion than radicalism. He has a cute way of singing; he’s basically a jazzy New Wave punk cooing to a baby. His rhymes are tight and memorable, and songs such as Fragile, which closed the show, are lullabies to comfort a tortured soul. Even when the King of Pain sings “there’s a little black spot in the sun today”, it’s more soothing than suicidal.
Go back through his material, and you’ll feel the joy (and pain) of fatherhood and a concern for children.
Here’s a few to think about:
–De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (Sting reportedly said his son came up with the line.)
–Synchronicity II (“He sees the family home now, looming in his headlights, the pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache.”)
–Russians (“How can I save my little boy, from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy … I hope the Russians love their children too”)
(words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved)