SHOW REVIEW

Sting, the king, inspires the crowd in Hannover...

Again, he has succeeded in making his fans cheer with delight: Sting, British singer/songwriter, inspired an audience of 5000 in the Hannover Music Hall during the first of his two sold-out concerts. With 40 million records sold, Sting is one of the big shots in the pop business. Yesterday, he also had a few hits of his former band Police in his luggage - which made for an extra wave of applause.

He could draw on plentiful resources. He could bring on a flashy light show and an opulent stage set, with a showy staircase and the like. He could play hits, one after the other, for two hours straight. He could sell his views and philosophy of life. But he doesn't do any of these. He stands at the rim of the stage in a Hanomag factory shop and plucks his bass. Behind him five musicians, in front of him 5,000 fans on each of the two days, above him a few spotlights. No flashy light show, no showy staircase. Sting confines himself to the essential thing: his music.

A good move. Because with the fascination which is radiated by the Englishman solely through his presence and his music, he can easily skip the fancy bits. He can trust his high calibre band and a sound exceptionally well balanced for the Music Hall.

He has put together a set list matching his performance: frugal, but tasteful. The latest album 'Mercury Falling' is presented by the 45-year-old artist at great length. The rest of the program is a review of his other four solo albums - and a bit of Police. Thus, sing-along numbers are an exception, as are long solos from his musicians. But when there is a sing-along tune, then it's done properly: for the current single 'I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying' he gets a woman from the audience on to the stage, thereby subjecting her to the evil stares of all other female fans, but skillfully saving the rather tiresome country song in this way.

The emphasis, though, is on slower pieces like 'Fields of Gold' or 'Mad About You', which create magic moments in the hall. Without any drama. Sting is just standing there, plucking his bass and trying not to be the focus of attention.

Of course he is anyway. Because the only thing that really stands out is his voice. However you want to descibe it - 'supple suede' perhaps? -, it is getting better all the time and, heard live, activates without fail each and every hair that can possibly stand on end. The audience sometimes seems glued to the floor, soaking up the pleasant suede shower. Don't clap your hands too early, don't miss a sound.

Especially not the finale. For 'Fragile', the last encore, Sting picks up his acoustic guitar. At the end, he stands alone in a white shaft of light and plucks the last tone. Frugal, tasteful.

(c) Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung by Uwe Janssen/translated by Angelika Goldmann

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