Soul Cages
Manchester, GBApollo

Blunted Sting in tale of a star caught in eclipse...

'Roxanne' struck up... and suddenly the joint was jumping.

But it was an evening of mixed pleasures as Sting played the first of his two sell-out concerts at Manchester's Apollo theatre.

Since he decided to save the world, Sting has not felt obliged to provide it with his best music.

For many, the joy of last night was in hearing old Police songs like 'Message In A Bottle', 'Every Breath You Take', 'Driven to Tears', 'Walking On The Moon', and 'King of Pain', which come up as fresh and gleaming as ever.

Not so thrill-packed were many of the songs from the solo albums for which the singer, actor, ecological warrior and the one-man pressure group stubbornly buried his pop flair.

Thirty-five minutes passed by with the crowd standing mesmerised, but barely moved, by the blond apparition who is now 40 and looking ridiculously good on it.

To one side, guitarist Dominic Miller wrought searing rock riffs, while to the other, keyboard player David Sancious provided some nimble-fingered jazz. Sting, sporting banana coloured waistcoat and green sensibilities, mashed the two styles into one.

Then 'Roxanne' burst through the jazzy mulch, taking us back to 1979.

There were other occasional triumphs of his later career - ones very much in the Police mould.

But the overwhelming impression of Sting in 1991 is that he doesn't write 'em they way he used to. While po-faced albums like the 'Soul Cages' and 'The Dream of The Blue Turtles' gather dust, 'Roxanne' will still be playing on a radio station near you.

(c) Manchester Evening News by Paul Taylor