'This oddest of odd couples were unable to keep their eyes off one another musically speaking', says Ed Power
Sting and Paul Simon have spent the past 30 years traveling in opposing directions. The tall-haired Englishman started as vaguely credible punk rocker only to become a byword for trantric sex-championing silliness. Simon, meanwhile, has devoted the later stages of his career to escaping his initial pigeonholing as featherweight folkie via a series of smart, progressive albums of which 1986's Graceland remains the most lauded.
But though these greying icons may have plausibly bonded over the shared experience of being by turns pilloried and praised, it seemed an open question whether their catalogues could sit comfortably together on this co-headline tour.
Even at its lute-bothering hammiest, Sting's music crackles with a twitchy energy – as his forays into medieval pastiche and musical theatre testify, here's a born-outsider who'd rather tumble into self-parody than cleave to fans' expectations. Simon's output, in contrast, may be seen as one graceful continuum. The fear was that presenting the two repertoires side by side would be tantamount to mingling oil and honey.
With rock star collegiality presumably forbidding either musician claiming the de facto headliner spot, Simon and Sting - has a ring doesn't it? - instead trooped out together. Sporting mirror-image grins, they plunged into a surprisingly cohesive sequence of duets, beginning with Sting's Brand New Day and proceeding through Simon's The Boy In The Bubble and Mother and Child Reunion.
If anything, it was during alternating solo segments that the evening lost its punch. Sting, modelling a terrifying Game Of Thrones beard, delivered zesty readings of Englishman In New York and Roxanne yet how you suddenly missed Simon's impish zeal. Similarly, while the American's repertoire has weathered the decades impressively, a done-it-a-million-times-already quality informed 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Me and You Can Call Me Al.
Happily, this oddest of odd couples were unable to keep their eyes off one another musically speaking and, across a three-hour plus set, shared the podium for winning versions of The Boxer, Every Breath You Take and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Throughout, back-slapping bonhomie was in alarming evidence. Exchanging twinkling glances Simon and Sting entered the collaborative spirit like two senior managers volunteering for a karaoke duet at an office party, too caught up in the moment to worry if they'd regret it in the morning.
(c) Daily Telegraph by Ed Power