The sedate 8,000-seater affair was a supreme example of consummate musicianship. Sting's eight-piece band was tight as a drum, the set tastefully dramatic, yet the man himself was oddly distanced.
The crowd lapped up his one and only piece of self-effacing blether (it was at the expense of his renowned tantric prowess) but were hungry for more. For Sting's appeal is based as much on his charisma as his music. As sinewy and lithe as his trademark voice, he strutted around with an understated air of arrogance in his skinny rib charcoal polo neck and silky combats.
Highspots included the classic "Fields of Barley" and a couple of tough country numbers - "I'm So Happy", a song about fatherhood after divorce, and "Fill Her Up", which started as twangy country,merged into gospel and then tumbled into the mother of all jazz fusions.
Sting's voice won a seemingly personal contest against trumpeter Chris Botti's soulful horn, both holding the last soaring note of "Tomorrow We'll See" for an eternity - evidence of the benefits of all that astanga breathing.
The New Orleans-honky tonk "Moon Over Bourbon Street" was a belter, though it got a little messy as it wound down, and the extended improv on "Roxanne" got a little lost along the way.
Among the ensemble, Jason Robello's complex keyboard work interwove magnificently through "Set Them Free", and Botti conjured up a great late-night jazz mood with his haunting horn on "Seven Days". Sting's own playing was occasionally inspired, especially on the encores. His singing voice just seems to get better and better: the lower register breathily sensual, the upper unambiguously lucid.
The finale saw the crowd wistfully echoing Sting in a solo acoustic "Message In A Bottle", segueing into an ecstatically tender "Fragile". This was one of those magically hushed, intimate moments. With half the SECC's capacity, lucky Londoners at the Albert Hall should be in for many more of those.Reuse content