Reviews: Sting, Shawn Mendes, Mary J. Blige/Nas & More

AP Photo / Marco Ugarte
– Sting
Sting plays the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City May 17.
This week, for your reading enjoyment, we have compiled critical reviews of live performances from Sting in Vienna, Va.; Shawn Mendes in Columbus, Ohio; Mary J. Blige and Nas in Atlanta; Hall & Oates in St. Paul, Minn.; Flume in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Alan Jackson in Charlotte, N.C.
Sting @ Wolf Trap National Park in Vienna, Va., Aug. 26 – “Backed by a pair of guitarists (Dominic Miller and his son Rufus), a keyboardist (Kevon Webster), two singers (Melissa Musique and Gene Noble) and a harmonica player (Shane Sage), Sting and the potent band delivered for more than 90 minutes slightly fresh takes on 19 songs with a pair of encores. The 67-year-old was lean, musically mean and in fine vocal form sporting a salt-and-pepper five o’clock shadow and less spikey blondish hair. He was attached to his well-worn, 1957 Fender Precision bass nearly all night.” – Joseph Szadkowski / Washington Times
Shawn Mendes @ Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 27 – “Despite Mendes’ audience consisting predominantly of young girls, the dads who brought their daughters to the show couldn’t help but bob their heads to the music. And if Mendes’ vocals weren’t enough to impress, his guitar strumming definitely pushed him over the edge. He played hard and passionately, and it was refreshing to learn that Mendes is more than just a pop singer.” – Anna Ripken / The Lantern
Mary J. Blige / Nas @ Cellairis Amphitheatre At Lakewood in Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 26 – “But clearly Monday night was not about Blige proving she remains a formidable live vocalist. The pioneering and still reigning queen of hip-hop soul was there to celebrate a career with the most loyal Blige devotees, who appeared content with being in her company and with Blige leading them through a catalogue of hits that date back to 1992.
“Nas the prophet and Nas the street poet were both on display Monday night. A highlight was ‘I Know I Can,’ an anthem of youth empowerment, where Nas, backed by a chorus of children, encourages young people to live their dreams. That was followed by ‘Got Ur Self a Gun,’ and his closing song, ‘One Mic,’ where Nas paints a searing and grim picture of urban gun violence.” – Leroy Chapman Jr. / Atlanta Journal-Constitution 
Hall & Oates
Steve Jennings / WireImage / Getty Images
– Hall & Oates
John Oates and Charles DeChant of Hall & Oates perform at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., May 1.
Hall & Oates @ Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, Minn., Aug. 28 – “Yes, this was a greatest hits show designed for those nostalgic for the early ’80s, and the 100-minute set surely sparked warm reminiscences. Yet, while well-played by the eight-piece band, it was also inconsistent in sound quality, with distortion, feedback and uneven vocal mixes proving a problem, depending upon where you were sitting.” – Rob Hubbard / Pioneer Press
Flume @ KL Live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 23 – “The bizarreness of the entire thing was what elevated the show, feeling more of an art installation than your regular Friday night gig. From spray painting and potting orchids to destroying printers on stage with a sledgehammer; Flume presented an exhibition in the form of mixed media. When paired with the impressive yet trippy light show and music, the entire experience was nothing short of psychedelic.” – Leyasheena / Hype
Alan Jackson @ Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., Aug. 24 – “Though he clearly has less energy and less mobility than he used to, Jackson doesn’t lack for enthusiasm and for a genuine love for his fans. Particularly early on, he seemed obsessed with flicking guitar picks into the pit and lobbing rolled-up white T-shirts into the first several rows, smiling through it all — albeit somewhat apologetically.” – Théoden James / The Charlotte Observer