It’s hard to believe the slim and well-honed figure of Sting onstage at Cardiff Castle is now in his seventies, but on the evidence of this Sunday evening open-air show, the erstwhile Police frontman’s voice has retained a strength to match. Still, he’s met with a crowd that knows every word of every song, as the man formally titled Gordon Sumner delivers hit after hit in a show that forms part of Sting’s succinctly named My Songs tour.
Cardiff Castle provides a stunning backdrop as Dagny, a Norwegian Robyn-a-like electropop act, delivers a rather good warm-up set for Sting. Assisted by a crisp sound mix, she works the crowd well with her well-crafted Scandinavian pop.
Sting takes the Castle stage to the sounds of Message In A Bottle, clutching his beloved, career-spanning Fender Precision bass: though worn and beaten-up, it still sounds as good as it did on those classic early Police albums from over 40 years ago. Quentin Crisp biopic Englishman In New York follows to rapturous applause, and thereafter the hits just keep coming.
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Walking On The Moon and Brand New Day are all delivered faultlessly by a crack band with some incredible backing singers and a tour de force harmonica solo, originally performed by Stevie Wonder. The avuncular Sting even manages to mangle some Welsh, redeeming himself when taking time to thank the Deaf signing pair stage left.
There’s a touch of the sheer energy and excitement of the Police on show as So Lonely – this reviewer’s favourite track from the band’s first album, Outlandos D’amour – is performed at breakneck speed and precision, accompanied by a mass singalong from the mostly middle-aged crowd. The classic Every Breath You Take and Roxanne are the final highlights, as the rain holds off and a happy crowd departs, into the night.
Sting + Dagny, Cardiff Castle, Sun 2 July
words BARRY JACKSON photos EMMA LEWIS