Saturday's packed Sting and Annie Lennox show at Shoreline was one of those rare occasions when the opener outdid the headliner.
Opener, Lennox, 49, who has resumed a career after taking almost a decade off to raise kids, has come back stronger than ever. She has long been overlooked as a soul singer, partly because she first achieved fame as a techno-rocker with the Eurythmics.
But her strong hourlong set of old and new songs put her in a rarefied league of pure-voiced, bluesy singers, outclassing and out-emoting any of several generations of younger divas. She's already held her own recording with the ``Queen of Soul,'' Aretha Franklin, and frankly, Franklin might have had a hard time keeping up with Lennox's blazing vocals Saturday.
She had the audience on its feet through ``Missionary Man,'' ``Walking on Broken Glass,'' Bob Marley's ``Wait in Vain,'' and ``Cold.'' This set was more up-tempo and uplifting than last year's post-divorce outing in San Francisco. She was better outdoors where there was nothing to stop her voice from soaring.
Sting, wherefore art thy sting? It was sad to see this once powerful rocker slide into the tedium of banal, smooth supermarket background jazz. On his 53rd birthday (which the audience celebrated in song), his Police songs such as ``Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'' and ``Roxanne'' got the crowd up, but it sat back down for an interminable number of new, tepid songs.
How sad to see him go Clapton-like into the realm of smooth, safe and boring, when once he roared so ferociously. Maybe it's time to think about that Police reunion. Or next time you'll be the opener.