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REVIEW: Paul Simon and Sting perform in Brisbane

Sting with Paul Simon
Sting with Paul Simon

WELL, well, well …

It came like a lightning bolt, two hours into the three-hour show.

Gordon Sumner - better known to the world as Sting - and Paul Simon performed The Boxer.

All of a sudden, in a spotlight centre stage at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, the years fell away.

In 1970, the song had been a number one worldwide hit for Simon and his then singing partner Art Garfunkel.
 

And here it was in Brisbane, reborn as fresh as a newly-minted penny, with Sting's voice the soaring falsetto, and Simon the tenor: "I am just a poor boythough my story's seldom told, I have squandered my resistance for a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises …"

This was why the 1.6m tall,  73-year-old American and and the 1.8m, 63-year-old Englishman were touring together.
Until that moment, Simon and Sting had been merely superb.

They had played and sung their own songs as 14 multi-instrumentalists and singers who made up their backing bands merged and separated, then merged again behind them.

This was the masterclass. This was the moment it all came together.

The champs were here: two of modern music's best songwriters and performers were holding court.

And entertainment centre, packed with upward of 12,000 people, crackled with the electricity.

They were like Picasso and Da Vinci experimenting on a new canvas together, seriously stepping back and considering the work in places, and splashing about in the colours in others.

And they bounced off each other, fed by the crowd and the band.

Sting did Seven days, Fields of Gold and a brassy version of Walking on the Moon; Simon countered with 50 Ways to Leave your Lover, Me and Julio (Down by the School Yard), Still Crazy After All These Years and Diamonds (on the Soles of her Shoes).

Then they'd share: Cecilia, You Can Call Me Al, Every Breath You Take.

"Who hasn't had a time in their lives when a Paul Simon song hasn't marked something special?" Sting mused, "a time when you've met a girl … or a time when you've broken up with one?"

Then Sting sang Simon's 1968 song (To Look for) America, which, he said, was a marker for his first visit to the US.

And toward the end came the sparkling Bridge Over Troubled Water, to which Simon and Sting gave a towering, inspiring gospel treatment.

Twenty years ago, Sting played the entertainment centre with one of the coolest quintets imaginable.

The performance was faultless, perfect.

Last night was not.

These three hours were warmer, looser with a little more humour, the playing no less expert but more spontaneous.
And the joy was not only obvious, it was infectious. It was palpable.

It was simply magic.

Well, well, well …

 

The gig was the first of eight sprinkled across Australia this month.

The remaining dates are:
Geelong, Mt Duneed Estate - Saturday February 7 (A Day On The Green)
Adelaide, Coopers Brewery - Sunday February 8
Melbourne, Rod Laver Arena - Tuesday February 10
Sydney, Qantas Credit Union Arena - Friday February 13
Hunter Valley, Hope Estate - Saturday February 14
Perth, Sir James Mitchell Park - Saturday February 21 (A Day On The Green)
Perth, Sir James Mitchell Park - Sunday February 22 (A Day On The Green)

Topics:  concert entertainment music paul simon sting


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