SHOW REVIEW

Sting at the Playhouse...

Mr Gordon Sumner, better known to the world as Sting, is a performer who has reached the top of his professional tree. His international success with the Police has made him both wealthy and aimless: having done it all, what does he do next?

''Experiment'' seems to be the answer. Yet on the evidence of his show at the Edinburgh Playhouse last night the call to return to the drawing board cannot be long in coming. Here was Sting solo, playing music that was new to his fans, supported by an all-black group of some of the best musicians and stagers that money can hire (including Branford Marsalis on saxophone) and delivering a sound which strayed towards jazz without settling, before nestling for the night in plain tedium.

The problem, I would suggest, is that for all their pretentiousness Sting's songs remain simple pop tunes which cannot easily bear the pressure of complexity. Though the band strove mightily to inject some style and class into the proceedings the conflict between their playing and the familiar rock-and-roll postures of the star was never resolved. Tunes dragged and droned, to the point where many seemed padded, while Sting's considerable stage presence too often faded into the backcloth.

Lyrically the songs, with titles such as 'Children's Crusade' and 'One World is Enough (For All Of Us)', were characterised by noble banalities - as though every verse had a ''Nuclear Power - No Thanks'' sticker impressed upon it.

(c) The Scotsman by Ian Bell

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