It’s hard to believe that it has been four decades since Sting first told Roxanne she could take the night off; seeing him at this makeup concert with recent collaborator Shaggy confirmed that he’s still got it. The duo has an album out, 44/876, that’s named for their respective country codes, but they are far from phoning it in, as both men are as vivid and fresh onstage as they have ever been. They also make a great contrast, with Sting’s keening high tenor soaring above Shaggy’s rough-edged, growling baritone.
Their single long set deftly mixed the new material with many of their biggest hits. Early Police numbers such as “Walking on the Moon” took on extended form as elements in medleys, some of which were surprising. “Roxanne” into “Boombastic,” anyone? Late in the show, Shaggy mugged and playacted his way through “It Wasn’t Me,” giving Sting the opportunity to roll his eyes and toss off some #MeToo-aware wisecracks, then plunge into a full-blooded version of what is probably his greatest song, “Every Breath You Take.” With both artists looking fit and performing with supreme confidence, this was a great way to wind down an excellent 2018 season at the Santa Barbara Bowl.