Released in the UK in 1991, catalogue no A&M 397 1 71-2, the CD captures several tracks from Sting's exclusive one-off acoustic performance at the Buddle Arts Centre in Wallsend, Newcastle.
This special boxed set, which consists of a five track CD recorded live at The Buddle Arts Centre on 20 April 1991 and an illustrated lyric book by Sting look-a-like Roberto Gligorov. These were packed in an album sixed presentation box. Only 3,000 of the sets were issued, so this is an attractive collectors item, and fairly hard to locate these days. Despite the songs having appeared over the years as bonus tracks on an assortment of singles, this is an item worth searching out. There is also a Japanese version of this boxed set (A&M PCCY-10281), the most noticeable difference being a foam rubber box inlay instead of the UK's card inlay. We're not sure of how many of the Japanese boxed sets were issued but it seems highly unlikely that the number exceeded 3,000.
The "invitation only" concert was the evening before kicking off the first British dates of his 'Soul Cages' tour, and saw Sting repeat much of the set he recorded for the MTV unplugged session. The evening ended with Sting jamming with some of his old band-members from pre-Police days.
The following item is a review of the Buddle show which appeared in The Daily Mail newspaper:
A Tug At The Heartstrings
Sting was brought up just a few streets from where he was sitting. The prodigal was back for a sentimental journey in front of his granny, brother, two sisters and others, about 140 people in the round. He was performing in an arts centre that used to be a school attended by his late mother. Outside, few streets which Sting knew remain, having disappeared with the Tyneside shipyards.
Sting knows he can't make a living doing this sort of show, but it was a fitting opener for this current short tour based around the new album 'The Soul Cages', with its ships and river imagery and dedication to his late father. Sting's fingertips were covered in fabric Elastoplast because he hadn't played the double bass regularly for some time, so the skin had not hardened. Such close observation offered all sorts of insights. The atmosphere in the hall was respectful, and although the American members of the band were somewhat bemused at the community surroundings, Sting was content, indulging in less showmanship and more tenderness than arenas allow.
He started with the reflective 'All This Time', an upbeat, almost jokey number about a dying man. Then it was into the lusty 'Mad About You'. Here was Sting at his best, giving what felt akin to a sitting room recital to friends rather than a rock concert. Sting joked about his father. 'He only gave me one bit of advice. Don't get married, and go to sea.' Sting certainly ignored the first, but his travelling lifestyle is a rich man's equivalent of the latter. These words introduced 'Why Should I Cry For You'. It was melancholic and stripped bare, exposing raw emotions. More bittersweet tales unfolded, notably 'Island Of Souls', where Kathryn Tickell came on to play the subtle Northumbrian pipes, squeezed but not blown.
There was plenty of introspection, a self-indulgence for which Sting made no apology. But there was also something slightly intimidating about the intimacy of these surroundings. Sometimes it's easier to express feelings to strangers than to friends, and there was a sense of bottled-up emotion. The mood relented after about an hour as the inevitable Police songs were played. 'Walking On The Moon' and 'Every Breath You Take' felt fresh by appearing unrehearsed, Sting deciding on the spot how he was going to arrange them, mainly in a tinkering, jazzier style.
Then came a playful interlude with his old mates from Last Exit, the local jazz group he left in 1976. They knitted together neatly on 'Way Down East', a song by harmonica player Larry Adler. The last time Sting played in Wallsend with Last Exit was at the Coronation Club, and they were told to turn it down because they were disturbing the bingo next door. There were no fears of that this time. There was more mucking around later but the real end of the set came with 'Fragile'. Sting swapped the bass for electric guitar to gracefully serenade the ghosts of his past who must have been resting peacefully after this homage, like the rest of us.
Sting: Double Bass
Dominic Miller: Guitar
Vinnie Colaiuta: Drums
David Sancsious: Keyboards
Kathryn Tickell: Small Pipes on 'Island Of Souls'