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Sting, Peter Gabriel may be combo for the ages

Peter Gabriel and Sting stand together on stage to explain the nature of their Rock, Paper, Scissors Tour that began in Columbus at Nationwide Arena on June 21, 2016. Peter Gabriel and Sting stand together on stage to explain the nature of their Rock, Paper, Scissors Tour that began in Columbus at Nationwide Arena on June 21, 2016. Chris Russell

Peter Gabriel and Sting walked — rode bikes — among us for two weeks leading up to the opening night of their Rock, Paper, Scissors tour, which debuted in Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night.

During that time, the pair rehearsed the program in the Arena, beginning with just their own songs and a belief that a musical dialogue would emerge. The two hadn’t toured together since the late 1980s.

Gabriel explained that he grew up among cows, while Sting grew up close to ships. He believed they both had plenty to learn from the partnership. Sting described it as a battle of the bands.

It was nothing like a battle, but more like a pas de deux.

That’s not to say that the two famous rockers didn’t display the deep differences in their approaches to rock music, Sting emphasizing the melodic and visceral in his work with the Police and a more introspective side solo, while Gabriel’s arty beginnings in Genesis and his commitment to world music while solo both staked a claim Tuesday night.

First and foremost, though, the two displayed a deep respect and care for each other’s material. The two, virtuosic bands melded frequently; the two artists exchanged roles, singing during and leading each other’s songs.

One of the evening’s highlights — and a sequence that summed up both their distance and common ground — began as Sting quietly sang the opening from Genesis’ "Selling England By The Pound," from that last album Gabriel made with the group, its magical imagery and hook line about to fit into a larger theme. From there the singer segued into the Police’s "Message In A Bottle," broadening the song’s personal loneliness into a plea for international sanity.

During songs such as Gabriel’s "No Self Control" and a few of Sting’s, the two traded verses, in a scheme that not only reinforced their camaraderie but showed a fine sensitivity toward each other’s melodies.

Gabriel’s delivery of Sting’s "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" was a sweet display of artistic friendship.

Still, the balance needs a little tweaking. It was plain before deadline called more than two hours in — the concert began 25 minutes late — that Sting’s rockers generally would get the loudest reaction, leaving the following songs saddled with an energy deficit. The transition from Sting’s "Message" to Gabriel’s foreboding but lovely "Darkness" was problematic even though each was successful on its own.

The tour opener nonetheless set the stage for a memorable combination of major talents, a marriage made of uncommon respect and enthusiasm. If it evolves over the course of its travels, it will be one to remember for a long time.


  1. The Rhythm of the Heat (Peter Gabriel)
  2. If I Ever Lose My Faith in You (Sting)
  3. No Self Control (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  4. Invisible Sun (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  5. Games Without Frontiers (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  6. Shock the Monkey (Peter Gabriel, sung by Sting)
  7. Secret World (Peter Gabriel)
  8. Driven to Tears (Sting)
  9. Fragile (Sting)
  10. Red Rain (Peter Gabriel)
  11. Dancing With the Moonlit Knight (Genesis cover, sung Sting partial)
  12. Message in a Bottle (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  13. Darkness (Peter Gabriel)
  14. Walking in Your Footsteps (Sting)
  15. Kiss that Frog (Sting)
  16. Don't Give Up (Peter Gabriel)
  17. The Hounds of Winter (Sting)
  18. Big Time (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  19. Englishman in New York (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  20. Solsbury Hill (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  21. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic (Sting)
  22. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (Peter Gabriel)
  23. Roxanne (Sting)
  24. Love Can Heal (Peter Gabriel, dedicated to Jo Cox)
  25. Desert Rose (Sting)
  26. In Your Eyes (Sting & Peter Gabriel)
  27. Encore:
  28. Every Breath You Take
  29. Sledgehammer

© Dispatch, by Curtis Schieber

Last modified onThursday, 23 June 2016 17:23


Peter Gabriel & Sting "Games Without Frontiers" backyarDJam

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