Peter Gabriel, on the road with Sting for their Rock Paper Scissors summer tour, couldn’t resist a good-natured jab at his fellow Englishman early Wednesday night as the dynamic duo arrived at the Air Canada Centre.
“They call us the tantric twins,” Gabriel, 66, joked as he stood arm in arm with the slimmer and trimmer Sting, 64, a well known yoga practioner who once boasted of having seven-hour tantric sex.
“We’re viritually unrecognizable backstage.”
Of course, Gabriel’s remarks were all in good fun as the impressive careers of the two British musicians -- who previously toured together in the ‘80s for Amnesty International -- effortlessly merged over a marathon two hours and 45 minutes.
Gabriel’s melancholy, plaintive wail was a great compliment to the sexy rasp of Sting’s.
Sometimes they sang solo, often together with their bands (or “the red team and the blue team” as Gabriel called them with his musicians in red and black and Sting’s in blue and black), or covered each other songs as Gabriel did with a slowed down version of Sting’s If You Love Someone, Set Them Free.
There were even a few songs from their old bands, progressive rockers Genesis and New Wave act The Police, with emphasis on the latter.
The show also wasn’t without its politics too.
Sting commented on the recent Brexit vote saying he and Gabriel had woke up “the next morning and wondered WTF had happened to our country.”
He followed that remark up with a bit of the Genesis song Dancing With The Moonlit Knight from Selling England By The Pound before launching into The Police’s Message In A Bottle.
But it was a teary-eyed Gabriel who got fans to light up their phones with his moving new song, Love Can Heal, which he dedicated to murdered British MP Jo Cox whom he knew.
That emotional high point was almost matched by Sting who dedicated the delicate Fragile to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
It was hard to argue with the idea of having Gabriel open the show with The Rhythm of The Heat before Sting followed up with his own If I Ever Lose My Faith In You and so it went back and forth from there with slick lights, video screens and projections all night long as the backing band grew to as big as 14 including three drummers, a violinist, and a cellist.
The first standout of the evening was Gabriel’s Games Without Frontiers, which got the audience clapping, followed by other highlights of his like Red Rain, Don’t Give Up (with backup singer Jennie Abrahamson filling in nicely for Kate Bush), Big Time, Solsbury Hill (skipping included), the set ending In Your Eyes, and the show ending Sledgehammer.
Sting wowed with The Police trio of Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Roxanne, and Every Breath You Take and his own Desert Rose.
The two artists merged best on Sting’s An Englishman in New York for reasons not too hard to understand.
(c) Toronto Sun by Jane Stevenson