Soul Cages
Nov
23
1991
Glasgow, GBScottish Exhibition & Conference Centre
With John O'Kane, Vinx
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When words just don't come easy...

Sting's most recent album, 'The Soul Cages', finally appeared earlier this year after being delayed by a much-publicised bout of writer's block. Obviously the blocked words eventually burst through in a deluge for Sting's most recent material is by far his most verbose to date - no mean feat for a man with a long-established reputation for work that is both worthy and wordy.

Listening at the SECC to the live jaunt through his 15-year career you can't help but wonder if his writer's block wasn't in fact a legitimate message from his subconscious. Rock doesn't need all those big words, it was trying to tell him, they make things stodgy.

Even Sting didn't always need this many words. At one point 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' was counterpoint to the groove. Now, turning back to his upbringing in Newcastle he has created a collection of songs that take the sentiment of 'Fog On The Tyne' and turn it into a Jungian essay set to a jazzy rock beat. The beat too has grown more complex, often relying on time signatures not usually spotted at a rock concert. Most of the songs give way to extended instrumental interludes often going overbearing and unfocused in the process.

Sting has come a long way from the punchy reggaefied new wave of The Police. But tellingly (if we ignore the fact that the most arresting song of the evening was in fact borrowed from Hendrix) it is 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Walking On The Moon' which elicit the strongest response of the night.

(c) The Scotsman by Trevor Pake

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