Mercury Falling

Wellington, NZ
Queens Wharf Conference Centrewith Vika and Linda
Finally, Sting sets them free...

Sting has been around for a few years. So have most of his audience, which might explain why they took so long to get to their feet last night.

It wasn't until the second song of the first of Sting's three encores that the 4,200 fans finally abandoned their high-priced seats in favour of boogying on down.

That, and the ovation which followed, was nothing more than the man deserved. For even though this concert was billed as an Intimate Evening With Sting, the Events Centre was a crowded sell-out.

And the English singer proved he still has plenty of bite.

This was no suave lounge lizard delivering easy-listening dross - Sting ranged widely over his 19-year repertoire.

Stalwart fans were treated to classics like 'Roxanne', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free'.

The material off his new album, 'Mercury Rising', also impressed, especially 'You Still Touch Me' and 'I Hung My Head'.

A consummately skilled band backed Sting, who grooved through on bass. He won over the audience by bringing two fans on stage to sing 'I'm So Happy I Could Cry with him'.

Aussie sisters Vika and Linda opened the show with simple songs and soaring, passionate voices. They play at The Planet tonight and tomorrow night.

The Event Centre's next concert is singer Bryan Adams on January 23 or 24.

(c) The Evening Post (Wellington)

Suave, laid back performance in Wellington...

Gordon Sumner could well be looking to change his stage name judging by the sauve, laid-back performance he gave in Wellington last night.

Smooth might be a more appropriate name for the man everyone knows as Sting because the sting has surely gone from the music but the man is still as sharp as ever on stage.

In an evening billed as an intimate evening with Sting, one of pop's most popular and enduring figures enthralled a full house with a set largely composed of laid-back ballads but kicked into life by Sting's smokey voice. Four songs from his latest album 'Mercury Falling' started the show, with the quietly rhythm and blues infused 'Let Your Soul be Your Pilot' the stand-out. Then Sting and his band launched into the familiar chords of 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' and, from his days in The Police, 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'.

Two stars were born during the evening. Steve from Invercargill and Micki, who said she was from Los Angeles, were plucked from the obscurity of the audience and invited on stage by Sting to help sing his new country-based tune 'I'm so Happy I Can't Stop Crying.'

Steve, in his honest Southland way, told the more-than-4000 people of his habits in the shower and Micki seemed quite prepared to leave her boyfriend for life on the road with Sting.

After they sat down, the Police post-punk classic 'Roxanne' got a slowed-down rendition, befitting the melodic nature of the evening, but with the chorus revved up to the tempo of old and the audience drenched in blood-red lights.

There was no forgetting that Sting was back in Wellington for the first time in 12 years. The audience welcomed each song, slow or fast, with a huge response.

Australian-based Tongan sisters Vika and Linda had opened the show with their warm, melodic pop sound. They sometimes sounded a bit shrill when stretching their voices, but reached heart-felt emotional highs when they sang simply-backed, often autobiographical, ballads.

'Grandpa's Song', which detailed the sisters' now regretted disregard for their family's Tongan culture when they were younger, was a highlight. And they used great Polynesian-based hand movements during the choruses, which gave a delicate respite from the normal bump-and-grind of pop dancing.

But Sting was the man the crowd had come for and the crowd was unwilling to let him and his band leave the stage. He was called backed twice and even during mid-tempo encore ballads the audience was up and dancing on their seats and in the aisles.

'Mercury Falling' is the album Sting was promoting but the temperature was definitely rising in the events centre last night.

(c) The Dominion by Adam Shelton