Sting - Symphonicity...
Every little thing about Sting's orchestral outing was magic, from the sunny Australia Day weather to the startlingly fresh re-imaginings of his greatest hits.
As a lush string arrangement and harmonica interplay on 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' gave way to swirling instrumental crescendos over the calypso rhythm of 'Every Little Thing', it became clear that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was to provide far more than incidental backing muzak.
US conductor Steven Mercurio was a dancing dynamo, determined to extract every iota of energy from his players.
Sting jokingly lazed on the conductor's podium during the superb clarinet solo on a swing-style 'Englishman in New York', complete with comical choreography from the horn section.
He then picked up acoustic guitar to play a delicate, flamenco-flavoured 'Roxanne', backed by medieval, lullaby-like strings.
In startling comparison, 'Russians' became a malevolent, thundering Soviet military march.
Adelaide backing singer Jo Lawry was given her chance to shine, putting the blues back into R&B and hitting the stratospheric heights in her duet with Sting on 'Whenever I Say Your Name', then harmonising so delicately that their voices melded as one on 'You Will Be My Ain True Love'.
The orchestra also breathed new life into popular classics 'Fields of Gold' and 'Every Breath You Take', then went hell-for-leather on the Police rocker 'Next To You' and a truly regal 'King of Pain'.
Sting entered musical theatre territory, taking on the guise of a vampire for 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', and dedicated 'Fragile' to the Queensland flood victims.
He returned, solo, for the final encore 'Message In A Bottle' - accompanied only by the voices of the thousands of other castaways his words had reached in the audience.
(c) The Advertiser by Patrick McDonald