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LIVE: STING with Joe Sumner, Perth, WA – 10 Feb 2023

| 11 February 2023 | 1 Reply

LIVE: STING with Joe Sumner, Perth, WA – 10 Feb 2023
Kings Park Botanical Gardens, Perth, Western Australia
Review and photography by Pete Gardner

The natural amphitheatre in Kings Park in the heart of Perth has to be one of the most beautiful concert venues ever created, and on a clear, warm but breezy West Australian summer night it’s the perfect setting for the thousands who have come to see a certain Mr Gordon Sumner, AKA Sting, on the sold out first night of his 10 date Australian leg of a massive world tour.

Stings “My Songs” tour began in Paris back in 2019, suffered the obligatory two year pandemic-enforced hiatus, and is scheduled to conclude in December this year at the end of the final European leg. Thus, the wait for Sting to land on Australian shores has been long, and tonight did not disappoint as he and his band delivered a set celebrating a long career at the top of his game, showcasing his very unique talent.

Support is from Joe Sumner, as the crowd fill the amphitheatre. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because his Dad is the main act. My initial suspicion, with respect to the obvious nepotism, soon gives way as Sumner junior delivers a solo set of songs of love and loss. Joe has an excellent voice, and uses the range well in his songwriting – albeit a bit self-indulgent at times – this mixed with some great guitar work proves he is definitely a chip off the old man’s block.

After the obligatory interval, the now full Kings Park cheers as the unmistakeable riff of a very up-tempo Message In A Bottle bursts from the PA. Sting enters to a huge cheer and strides to front of the stage playing his well-worn signature bass. Dressed in skintight black jeans and grey T-shirt, stretched taught across his pecs, at 71 years of age Sting looks fit, and I mean really fit. Lean, with well-cut biceps, he looks more like a new age yoga instructor at a Bali health and meditation retreat. Sting is the archetype of the benefits of healthy living; looking and sounding better than many of his peers, he is the antithesis of the aging rock star.

It’s obvious from the first few lines however, that Sting’s very distinctive “high tubular” voice has mellowed with time. Obviously aware of his limitations and conserving his vocal cords, Sting makes the best of his current range choosing his moments to hit the top notes. With his voice having warmed and matured over the years like a good wine, if anything Sting now sounds more “Sting”.

The band are tight and professional, featuring Domenic Miller on guitar, Kevon Webster on keys, Shane Sagar on harmonica, and backing singers Gene Noble and Melissa Musique. Sting has a reputation for only hiring the best musicians for his projects, but when your first drummer was the genius Stuart Copeland, you’ve a pretty high bar to match. Zach Jones rises to the occasion brilliantly driving the band from the rear of the stage like every great drummer. Sting himself is completely relaxed and commanding the stage, totally at home in his natural environment.

The crowd-pleasing set is heavy on Police material, which bookends the set, with solo work as the meat in the sandwich. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic is especially greeted with an enthusiastic cheer. The central part of the set starts with 3 tracks: If It’s Love, Loving You and Rushing Water from the 2021 release, The Bridge, written and recorded during the pandemic. These hold up well against the more familiar numbers, Loving You being a particular standout.

More familiar numbers follow, including a wonderful rendition of Fields of Gold with the stage washed in gold light and some beautiful classical guitar work by Domenic Miller. The song is introduced by Sting describing the fields of barley around his home/castle in Wiltshire, along with an open invitation to drop in for a cup of tea.

Heavy Cloud No Rain and Shape Of My Heart give Melissa Monique and Gene Noble respectively a chance to show their incredible voices as they take turns duetting with the main man.

The set finishes strongly with a string of Police hits, starting with a slightly mellowed Walking On The Moon, and a much more upbeat So Lonely, before segueing back to the solo material with Desert Rose from 1999’s Brand New Day album. The set closes out with King Of Pain, such a great song, and one of the highlights of the night, and the arrangement of Every Breath You Take finishing main set was sublime.

After a short breather the band returned for the encores, The opening ska-reggae riff of Roxanne generated huge cheers and a call and response singalong, before the evening concluded with the achingly beautiful Fragile, with Sting himself playing the classical guitar to accompany himself, showing he is an accomplished guitar player as well as a great bassman.

Sting and his band delivered a well-chosen setlist of crowd pleasers, greatest hits and a couple of deeper cuts to celebrate the career of a very distinctive talent. It is refreshing to know Sting is still producing new material and delivering a great performances. So often it feels that established bands and performers become their own tribute acts, recycling the hits of their glory days and never offering anything new. I have to confess I was a little cynical going into the show tonight, expecting a competent, but essentially tired regurgitation of past hits with a big flashy lightshow, but Sting and his band surpassed my expectations, with superb performances and wonderful musicianship. Tonight was about celebrating the music, and proof that you need never stop creating.

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

Comments (1)

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  1. Nicholas Creed says:

    This was a great show, no doubt about that, but to describe Zach Jones’s drumming as anything but contained and pedestrian, or dare I say it, just plain lazy, is not correct. With the shoes of virtuosos like Copeland, Vinnie, Omar Hakim, Manu Katche and Steve Jordan to fill, Zach played about 1/3 of the charts: safe, uninspiring and downright boring. It was like a junior high drummer trying to keep up with Danny Carey. To play a straight backbeat where Vinnie had left and right hands playing contrasting shuffles bordered on contemptuous.

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