Value for money two hour show...
Poor old Sting. He's such an easy target these days, with his mansion in the country and al bums of elegantly melodic easy listening. His best efforts to be an honest and entertaining interview subject don't seem to help either, since the press usually manages to portray him as a pompous prat. And seldom has a pop star been so lambasted for singing a song in French as he did on his last album, 'Mercury Falling'.
But this sniping doesn't mean anything in concert, where he still delivers with the same consummate ease he has shown for close to 20 years.
As usual, just enough greatest hits are sprinkled through the set to keep the crowd interested as he introduces the newer songs. While the autumnal tones of most of the material from 'Mercury Falling' don't sound like the sort of thing to get the blood pumping in concert, without exception they sound better live than they did in pristine CD.
And the moody, descending chord sequences of 'The Hounds of Winter' and 'Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot' give plenty of space for the night's star attraction, Sting's warm and stadium-filling set of vocal pipes.
The band has been augmented since the 1994 tour, with jazzer Kenny Kirkland back on piano and a two-man horn section adding colour to the sound and movement of the show.
The audience was won over completely when one of their number joined Sting for a singalong on 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying'. In fact, Nick the frustrated thespian and pirate from Sea World was so good we think he should call us just to assure us he wasn't a plant.
There were surprises and disappointments among the older songs: 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' could be safely put out to pasture, although 'Roxanne' retains its simple power despite the mellowing of the man.
And one of the night's highlights was the long-forgotten Police number 'When the World is Running Down', with Kirkland's mighty percussive piano technique pushing the band into overdrive.
What the performance lacked in youthful energy it probably made up for in a value-for-money two-hour show.
And while he can leave out half-a-dozen of his best songs and still have the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, you can only assume Sting will be packing them in at shows like this for years to come.
But please, no more songs in French.
(c) The Courier Mail by Noel Mengel