I saw the best concert of the Summer Season last night and I hope you’ll get a chance to as well.
The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra is touring the United States as part of its current world tour with…Sting! Yes it sounds crazy but it was wonderful. Mixing an a veritable plethora of old songs and new classics–all re-arranged for a large orchestra–this concert was an inspiring treat.
Sting opened both sets with classics and powered his four encores with known pieces as well. In between he stuffed quite a few new versions of his prior songs that most of us haven’t heard. I found there to be musical power, conversational depth and spiritual strength in both halves of the set, often mixing wonderful melodies with highly challenging lyrics.

Some of my favorites from the first set were “I Hung My Head,” about an accidental shooting, guilt and pain; “When We Dance,” which had women standing and dancing freely (LSD-style, according to my son) even in safe Cincinnati, and “Roxanne,” which on this tour sounds even more like the most romantic song ever sung to a prostitute.
The second set included “Tomorrow We’ll See,” a lovely song about a, ehm, transsexual prostitute and “End of the Game,” about foxes, dogs and death. By that time, “Desert Rose” and “Fragile” suddenly felt like light fare!
Sting told “The Today Show’s” Meredith Viera that he first got the idea for this type of music from doing a set with the Chicago Symphony. He loved it and decided to take it on the road , and the Queen was kind enough to loan him her symphony. It’s conductor, Steven Mercurio, who was as inspiring in his athletic acrobatics on stage as he was in his leadership of the rich arrangements, really helped make the show a delight.
Sting and the RPCO is going from the Midwest to Canada to New York and then places long and wide before the tour ends. Like I said, I hope you get a chance to see it. If not, some of the finer tracks can be found on YouTube, starting here or here. He asks some great questions through his music. Ever since his’ S.O.S. in “Message in a Bottle,” he always has.

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