His latest album may be titled 'Mercury Falling' but Sting sent temperatures soaring at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre...
The former frontman for The Police is a truly mercurial performer, sliding effortlessly and fluidly between styles as diverse as reggae, rock, jazz, funk and soul. After an unusually casual start, with the band tuning up in semi-darkness, Sting strode out, close-cropped hair and goatee beard framing his lion-like features. He struts the stage like the king of his domain, rather than the King of Pain he once sang about.
''Adelaide - it's impossible to say it without an Australian accent,'' he laughed. Sting later pointed out he had a son as old as the 20-year-old audience member he invited on stage to sing, and was greeted by applause. ''It was nothing, really,'' he quipped.
Against a simple backdrop of illuminated screens, Sting's band cooked up an ever-evolving storm of sounds, from the narrative simple 'I Hung My Head', through almost medieval Celtic ballads, to the gospel-drenched pop of 'Let Your Soul be Your Pilot'.
He was unafraid to delve back into The Police catalogue, setting the joint bopping with a calypso rendition of 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', the frenetic, whirling rock of 'Synchronicity II' and rasping his vocal chords through 'Roxanne'.
That song typified the evening's eclectic nature, starting with the familiar reggae plod, then fleshed out with lush organ and brass to become something entirely different, before he pulled it all back together for a gigantic ending.
With a roof-raising encore which included 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' and 'Every Breath You Take', the man once known as Gordon Sumner proved there's still plenty of sting left in his musical tale.
(c) The Advertiser by Patrick McDonald