Summoner's Tales
Adelaide, AUEntertainment Centre

A gallant star and showman...

Sting, so often dubbed rock music's Renaissance Man has reinvented his persona.

After six years since his last performance in Adelaide, the handsome Englishman now stands as a more relaxed, less self conscious performer.

Having once again strapped on his bass guitar, Sting has comfortably reassumed the mantle of a band member - albeit as part of an exceptional backing trio, boasting the talents of David Sancious on keyboards and Dominic Miller on guitar. And in the process, Sting shares the spotlight with his peers - even though Sting remains a gallant showman and obvious star.

There is much more balance and humility in his manner as he delivers his music with a focus, and sober commitment. And Sting peeled off the chapters of his musical career like onion skins; with appropriate new back-drops falling each time the direction of the show changed course.

Appropriately, the concert started with a generous chunk of Sting's current album, 'Ten Summoner's Tales' - the buoyant, uplifting new collection of songs' which has qualified Sting's change in mood. Then came a brace of songs first recorded by The Police - as curious for their selection as they were unexpected.

In one bold sweep, Sting revived the bouncy energy of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. The intense blast of 'Synchronicity II' and a slower, cooler version of 'Roxanne', which is no longer branded with punk anger.

As the show proceeded, the band delivered a drifting tide of songs which showed the darker tones and hues of the songwriter's musical palette. The breadth of the selections - from the light bossa nova of 'Sister Moon', through the rich complexity of 'Straight To My Heart', to the more robust rock of 'King Of Pain' and 'Demolition Man' - showed off the dynamism of Sting's band, which was supremely tight, yet dextrous enough to add pinches of tantalising improvisation.

It was a complete portrait of the artist from pop to poetic jazz flourishes, from the indulgence of dense instrumental workouts to the simple hedonism of reviving hit singles, including the grand finale of 'Every Breath You Take'.

And somehow, by assuming less of a star role, Sting emerged as a stronger, more dynamic performer.

Deborah Conway, the Melbourne, songwriter-performer, deserves special mention, having made a big impact in only a short time on stage as support act.

(c) The Advertiser by David Sly