It's tough for those who are younger than 40 to realize what a major influence Sting (born Gordon Sumner) and his band The Police were when they first came on the scene in the late 1970s.

Back in their heyday, they were something akin to U2, The Black Eyed Peas or one of the other megagroups today. When Sting went solo in the mid-1980s, he was still a compelling musical force. When the band reunited for a 2007-08 world tour, the magic was still there. Perhaps that's why some people have met lead singer Sting's recent concerts with philharmonics with a bit of head scratching. What could possibly be in it for him?

"Performing with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra was truly a highlight of my career," Sting said in a statement before the tour's kickoff. "[I look forward to] having a whole new palate (sic) of musical colors to work with and reinventing the songs that have been the staples of my live performances for over 30 years."

It's a fair point that after 30 years of playing such classics as "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," and "Every Breath You Take," Sting would be looking at mixing things up a bit while giving the audience what it wants. The good news is -- unlike some of his contemporaries who have tried and failed to make such musical partnerships work -- the concerts are something of a triumph.

Critic Jeff O'Kelly of Creative Loafing in Tampa, Fla., spoke of grace and grandeur during the concert, noting the arrangements were such that songs such as "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" sounded as natural as if Sting had always performed them with an orchestra.

If you go Sting with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra Where: Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavilion), 7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow, Va. When: 8 p.m. Sunday Info: This show is sold out as of press time; tickets may be available through online resellers;

Of course there are some critics who are less than pleased with the orchestral turn Sting has taken. Scott D. Lewis of the Oregonian noted the performance was quite mixed, showing Sting at times as a mature performer and at other times as something akin to a Disney performer banging a tambourine, which Lewis likened to the sound of a cash register. Say what you will about Sting and the release of his new album, "Symphonicities," this 16-time Grammy Award winner understands his audience wants the hits and looks to deliver them in as fresh a way as he can.

It's difficult to fault that effort.