Lukewarm greeting as hero returns...
King Sting may have expected to sweep all before him on his long-awaited return to his native Tyneside. But it was not to be. The huge Gateshead Stadium was little more than half-full when The Police stepped on to the stage and the disappointment seemed to register on Sting's face.
The reception was no more than luke-warm, but the band did their best to dispel the gloom by launching straight into three of the best known hits.
They opened with 'Message In A Bottle' and the audience began to perk up a little. Then they moved straight into 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', a joyful rocking number.
An uptempo version of a third hit, 'Walking On The Moon', followed to try to keep the party mood going. They should have left it as it was recorded because the whole quality of the song is in its slow, almost hypnotic rhythm.
Several thousand of the faithful were now dancing and singing along, but Sting still did not appear to be happy. He interspersed the band'svibrant set with cutting remarks directed at a variety of establishments, and his anger at the world in general was obvious.
Despite their dissatisfaction The Police kept the faithful happy with a string of their most popular numbers. The songs in between seemed to be tolerated in anticipation of the next classic. A tuneless French number was thrown in for good measure. Sting told us the words were in French because they were naughty. A French Canadian on my left waited with bated breath. He could not distinguish a word. Perhaps Sting should stick to English.
Things livened up again with the soulful 'Bed's Too Big Without You' and 'De Do Do, De Da Da Da' as the band began to show why they are internationally acclaimed as superstars.
The tight, professional set, backed by three players in the brass section, ended clinically with 'Invisible Sun' and 'Roxanne'. During the references to red light in 'Roxanne' we were blinded by powerful white lights which was a bit of a mystery.
Off they went, but everyone realised that after only an hour they would come back. Return they did to more of a whimper than the roar which had greeted the Stones encore at their recent concert. Sting continued to dance and prance but he lacks the charisma and charm to try and tease with an audience the way Mick Jagger has done for 20 years.
They played three more songs including 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' and went off again. Again they returned quickly to play 'So Lonely'. The audience enjoyed it after hearing the set they came for. But when Sting sang in Gateshead, in Newcastle - so lonely, I could not help thinking he half meant it.
© Newcastle Journal by Bill Brown
Image from Dietmar