Saturday, January 22, 2010
You’ve got to hand it to Sting, he’ll play to his audience’s needs but aside from the much longed for Police reunion tour of a few years back, he never trades in mere nostalgia. On this balmy evening, with a setlist of some 27 songs, Sting confirmed his talent as an artist who can soar and weave through his own musical history unafraid to tap-dance occasionally on his most revered signature moments.
Opening with a big-four in If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Englishman In New York and Roxanne, the show immediately unveiled itself as a true orchestral exploration of Sting’s oeuvre, the MSO exquisitely finding new textures through arrangements that breathed new life into the likes of Roxanne and some needed-life into songs such as When We Dance and Hung My Head. That these more epic songs stood cosily next to numbers like the 1978 pop/punk of Next To You said much for both artists and repertoire. Not as much could be said for the cashed-up bogan set who seem happy to shell out for $500 tickets and proceed to talk through or drunkenly sing along. Nor for the fool who yelled out ‘faggots’ when Sting introduced My Ain True Love, which was used in the movie Cold Mountain. (You were thinking of Brokeback Mountain, dickhead. And yes, I would know).
However most loved it for all the right reasons and why not when life memories such as Moon Over Bourbon Street, King Of Pain and Every Breath You Take were the soundtrack? Throughout the evening Sting and band graciously shared acclaim with the MSO, orchestra conductor Steven Mercurio and backing vocalist Jo Lawry. Sting himself was most self-deprecating, even as he gave insights to the songs being played which reflected Perth-based relations and more poignantly, his parents. “I think my father wanted me to have an exciting life. I’ve let him down considerably,” he said at one point to wide amusement.
With the flood crisis reflected on with the ever-moving Fragile (replete with ironic sprinkles of rain) it was Sting who ended with a lone acoustic guitar on Message In A Bottle. It was a strangely fitting end to a night of familiarities, unexpected turns and, yes, symphonicities. Finery at the winery indeed.
_ BOB GORDON