Sting, Joe Sumner @ Entertainment Centre, Adelaide 21/2/2023

This show will go down in the classics as one of those incredible concert experiences not to have missed. Sting (aka Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner) who is in the twilight of his career took Adelaide on a career retrospective covering the hits as well as songs from his recent albums My Songs (2019) and The Bridge (2021) playing a stellar set which is hard not to be totally in awe of.

Keeping things in the family the opener was Joe Sumner who some around me thought was James Reyne got things off to a flyer. Last time he played in Adelaide was supporting The Police in his band Fiction Plane who are on hiatus. Going it solo, Joe made the most of every minute of the thirty minutes allotted to him starting with Looking For Me Looking For You which appears on his new EP Feelin’ the love, Tastin’ the fear. Joe said acknowledged the crowd saying they were extremely polite turning up to see the support. There were some absolute gems in his set including the likes of You, You, You, Live Life and Hope. Jelly Bean sticks out as that is one Joe sings for his children everyday.

With a very short change it was a low key build up before the lights dimmed and Sting and band took to the stage. Sting has plenty of rock swagger and charisma and even at the age of seventy one he looks in great nick with no signs of slowing down yet. Super fit looking like he just stepped away from the gym to play a concert for a couple of hours. Opening with Message In A Bottle, Englishman In New York and Everything She Does Is Magic set the tone for a fantastic evening. Meticulous, polished, stellar on every level. There were no lulls as Sting had the crowd in the palm of his hands for the full two hours.

Sting reflected on his time in Adelaide swimming at Henley with what he thought were dolphins to taking a twilight stroll around the Torrens with bats flying overhead. He also said that a large portion of his family were shipped here in earlier times. He did say there was bad news by advising that he would be playing new songs acknowledging that the crowd probably didn’t want to hear new songs suggesting that with all the streaming platforms one of them might be a hit someday just like Roxanne in ’77 after hearing someone whistling the tune pointing out that’s a hit.

Whistling the intro to If It’s Love later commenting that wasn’t so bad was it in reference to the new song. Sting spoke of being qualified to write love songs having ‘real estate’ in the area putting an interesting proposition forward saying that songs that say “I love you” is boring but what was more interesting was “I love you but you love someone else” serving as the intro to Loving You followed by cracking single Rushing Water. It was back to familiar territory with If I Ever Lose My Faith In You. Sting’s made a comment about his trusty bass guitar and the holes in it saying it was a few years younger than him. Despite looking really gig hardened and well worn the sound was immaculate.

Sting spoke of the cliched thing to do by buying a house in the countryside revealing that he lives close by (three miles in fact) to the Stonehenge encouraging people to knock on the door to have a cup of tea jokingly saying he wouldn’t be there and most likely on tour. Describing the barley fields as a sea of gold knowing there was a song there with stunning Fields Of Gold. The new millennium inspired song Brand New Day required youngest member of the band Shane Sager to step up in to fill the “illustrious shoes” of Stevie Wonder who played harmonica on the single original was brilliantly done. The crowd were up on their feet for the first time during the show.

Backing vocalist Melissa Musique had a moment to shine in Heavy Cloud No Rain and the chemistry with Sting was captivating. Shape Of My Heart and Seven Days were great moments in the set also. One of the most powerful and theatrical moments was What Could Have Been which featured in Netflix series Arcane and the animated footage running in the background was used to great affect. With the end nearing the hits re-emerged with Wrapped Around Your Finger and Walking On The Moon which morphed in to So Lonely and the Bob Marley No Woman, No Cry segue was a masterstroke. Plenty of beats in Desert Rose to keep the intensity high and Joe Sumner returned to the stage to join his father on King of Pain sticking around on main set closer Every Breath You Take.

Returning for an encore Sting jokingly said the only problem now is that “I don’t know what you wanted to hear” with a teaser of Roxanne getting the crowd up and out of their seats. Absolute classic with Sting saying he likes to finish on something quieter and more thoughtful dedicating Fragile to the people of Ukraine, the young women of Iran and the people of Turkey. Playing acoustic it was almost the perfect moment. With Sting and band taking their bows one last time, Sting did say “we’ll see you again” – we can only hope. Fantastic show and if you have the chance to go be sure to grab a ticket while you can.

Live Review By Rob Lyon

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