Summoner's Tales
Jerusalem, ILSultans Pool

Sting wows Jerusalem...

Under a full moon and dressed in a black shirt and black tails, rock superstar Sting last night greeted a sold-out Sultan's Pool amphitheater with ''Erev tov, Jerusalem.''

He proceeded to play a non-stop, nearly two-hour set running the gamut from old favorites such as 'Roxanne' to ballads like 'The Shape of My Heart'.

The good-natured crowed, which remained on its feet throughout, was treated to two encores. The last, with Sting accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, was the heartfelt 'Fragile' with its exhortation against violence. The only surprise was the omission of his 'Mad About You', whose lyrics refer to Jerusalem.

At a press conference before the concert, Sting denied he had deliberately boycotted visiting Israel, but confirmed that the current political climate contributed to his decision to appear here.

''I've always been interested in Israel; there's just never been a firm offer before,'' said the former leader of the 1980s' rock greats, The Police.

''I hope this will be the first of many visits here. Things seem to be moving, opening up in the right direction. I'm very excited to be here,'' said the British singer. He downplayed any special significance to Jerusalem being the opening venue of his current tour, which also includes a visit to South Africa for the first time.

''I think it's a good time to visit both countries. It's important to be sensitive to the complexities of the political situation,'' he said.

Asked whether he had any reservations about playing in a country that ''occupied'' another people, Sting responded, ''Few countries, including my own, have perfect human rights records. Everyone is guilty in some manner. The important thing is that something is being done about it.''

Sting professed a desire to see the sights in Jerusalem and beyond, but doubted his schedule would enable him. ''I'm here for three days and I'm playing every day, so I'm not going to get a chance to see very much. But it was a very exciting moment when we drove up the highway and saw the sign 'Jerusalem.' The city has a very important significance for so many people,'' he said.

While announcing that he is still friendly with his former band mates in The Police, he rejected the possibility that the band would ever reform. ''It's a natural tendency for people to feel nostalgic and sentimental about the past. For me, the past is the past. There's no reason for us to reform. I certainly don't need the money,'' he said.

Asked if he was apprehensive about appearing before the same Israeli press that prompted Elton John to flee the country last year, Sting just smiled and said, ''I'm afraid of nothing.''

Tonight, Sting and his three-piece band will appear in Tzemach and tomorrow night at Rishon Lezion's Amphipark.

(c) The Jerusalem Post by David Brinn and Ruth Kern