Every little thing he does is still magic

Sting balanced high-energy moments with tender, beautiful ones in his Singapore gig.
Sting balanced high-energy moments with tender, beautiful ones in his Singapore gig.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

REVIEW / CONCERT

STING 57TH & 9TH TOUR

Singapore Indoor Stadium/Sunday

It was back to basics for British rocker Sting, 65, in his sixth outing in Singapore, in a concert that saw him share the spotlight with family and friends over one hour and 45 minutes.

His 40-year-old son, Joe Sumner, who was one of the opening acts, later joined his father onstage, providing backing vocals. Joining them was another father-son duo - Sting's long-time guitarist Dominic Miller and his son Rufus Miller, also on guitar.

Sting quipped to the 6,800- strong crowd: "As a sort of insurance, I've hired his son."

At some points, it felt like a family travelling band was playing onstage, with the other opening act, Tex-Mex band The Last Bandoleros, also providing back-up vocals, beautiful harmonies and an accordion player who lit up the stage every time he came on.

But no one could quite upstage the man of the hour, Sting, who kicked off the show just before 9pm with The Police tracks Synchronicity II and Spirits In The Material World.

The tour might have been for his latest album 57th & 9th, but the former lead singer of The Police had no qualms dipping into classic favourites from his former band - not that anyone minded.

In fact, it was these tracks that excited the crowd, with a few audience members even hustling to the front of the stage for a selfie and keepsake video.

The most enthusiastic singalongs were on Police tracks such as Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Message In A Bottle and So Lonely.

But still, Sting managed to keep it fresh, putting a funky reggae spin on Englishman In New York. The crowd dutifully "woah oh-ed" in unison, in a set with plenty of call- and-response moments. The seasoned performer then took the crowd to the mystical East with the upbeat and utterly infectious Desert Rose and shouts of "Yallah!" ("Come on!" in Arabic).

The stage dripped with a sexy, languorous vibe when popular classic Roxanne came on, with Sting slowing it down in the style of a jazz number before taking it to its climax.

The newer tracks, such as I Can't Stop Thinking About You and One Fine Day, were expertly woven into the setlist, so there was never a lull. Sting's son Joe, for instance, had a solo moment singing a cover of David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes that segued seamlessly into the powerful 50,000, a rock song that Sting wrote following the deaths of music greats Prince and Bowie. The father-son moment also revealed that the younger man's upper register is as good as his dad's.

But for all the high-energy moments, it was the tender, beautiful ones that showed that Sting, who possesses one of the most recognisable voices in the rock pantheon, is still at the top of his game.

His singing beguiled as golden mood lighting enveloped the stadium in Fields Of Gold and in a sombre version of Shape Of My Heart, when he shared vocals with Joe.

At the close, the audience was treated to two encores - the first comprising Police songs Next To You and Every Breath You Take; the second featuring the quietly beautiful Fragile, which he dedicated to the victims of the recent Manchester bombing.

It was a poignant end to a concert that expertly spanned a range of emotions and energy levels. Sting still has it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'Every little thing he does is still magic'. Print Edition | Subscribe