Sting and Paul Simon in concert is a truly special night in the company of legends...
Both are still of fine voice, Sting effortlessly still hits the high register.
Last night the Odyssey hosted a rather unusual coupling of music royalty, one, part of a superstar duo of the New York folk scene, the other a founder of one of the biggest bands of all time, both with solo careers that equal their founding music lives.
It is an odd coupling that on paper doesn’t look like it could work. What middle ground could Sting and Paul Simon possibly have? It transpires that it’s quite a bit. When they both take to the stage, they start with a duet on Sting’s ‘Brand New Day’, then into ‘Boy In The Bubble’ and the sparring match begins, both going toe to toe with hits.
After all, with their respective back catalogues, there is probably a Sting or Simon composition playing on a radio station somewhere in the world.
They each take to the limelight in a solo capacity, with Sting bouncing liberally from album to album, The Police’ ‘So Lonely’ to An Englishman In New York, Fields Of Gold, Driven To Tears, he even does a franky bizarre segue way from covering Simon’s ‘Kathy’s Song’ into ‘Message In A Bottle’ but oddly it works.
During Paul Simon’s time we are treated to ‘Graceland’, ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ a suitably spritely version of ‘Me And Julio’. You get the idea, this is a pretty exhaustive greatest hits from two performers who have a lot of greatest hits.
The duets by and large work. ‘The Boxer’ is a great Simon and Garfunkel standard and Sting will never be the vocalist that Garfunkel was. Then again, probably Garfunkel isn’t anymore either, so why quibble? But both are still of fine voice, Sting effortlessly still hits the high register.
The stage design is at a deliberate minimal, black backdrop, a laid-back jam-session kind of thing, which is obviously the intention here. A jam session with a tight backing band of over a dozen members, which allows for some pretty loose versions of familiar songs at times.
I could have done without the jazz odyssey version of ‘Roxanne’ though, especially the beer-garden cover of Ain’t No Sunshine that turned what is a great Police single in a pretty weak medley. But Sting seemed to enjoy himself. In fact that appears to be the appeal for both performers. They are having a ball.
Seasoned pros with nothing to prove and worth enough to just go out and enjoy playing the hits. The crowd lap up most of it, even if the second Sting session seemed to drag somewhat and made me wonder if Simon had headed off to the hotel.
But no, back on stage to deliver more of his classics with one of the most distinctive voices of the 20th century.
Standout tracks include ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’ which just sent me..the duets of Every Breath You Take, Cecelia and Bridge Over Troubled Water which make up the encore has the crowd on its feet and in full song.
The final track is a beautiful touch, a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “When Will i Be Loved”, a hark back to the early college band days of Simon and Garfunkel. A truly special night in the company of legends. For three hours. You can’t be bad to that, really!
(c) Belfast Live by Joe Lindsay