Live Music + Gig Reviews

Sting + Joss Stone @ Royal Albert Hall, London

14 May 2004



After having to cancel nine shows due to a bout of laryngitis, Sting finally got his UK tour under way at London’s grandest venue, the Royal Albert Hall, for the first of six sell-out performances.

He might have been itching to get on stage but before he did the audience were treated to a surprise appearance from teenage sensation Joss Stone. The 17-year-old gave a superb, soulful performance – displaying a confidence in her strong voice that belied her age. Indeed, it was only when she spoke that she gave away her young years.

Just as Joss Stone succeeded in appearing much older than she was, Sting started his set by trying to do the reverse. However, his bass-thumping techno version of Send Your Love did nothing but make you wish that he would stick to doing what he does best.

When he went into the acoustic-based Dead Man’s Rope, also from latest album Sacred Love, this point was underlined. This is not to say that he can’t rock though, as a storming rendition of unsung Police classic Synchronicity II proved.

There were no signs of any lingering viral effects as he gave a stellar vocal performance, adapting with ease to a range of styles from rock to jazz. Sting has never been afraid to tinker and his jazzy arrangement of Walking On The Moon, complete with double bass, breathed new life into a classic song. Such successes were in no small way helped by his excellent backing band, most notably guitarist Dominic Miller and the talents of Jason Robello on piano. An over-enthusiastic backing singer, dressed like a Beefeater, was less impressive though!

As the night progressed old Gordon was noticeably needing more and more liquid refreshment, in the form of herbal tea. And some of the audience might have needed a drink too, after some very racy images – including a striptease – were emblazoned on the stage backdrop during certain songs.

The music itself though blew hot and cold too, from a very ballsy Roxanne to numerous mediocre newer tunes. And the ill-chosen finale, A Thousand Years, just washed over the crowd, leaving the evening as something of a damp squib.

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Sting + Joss Stone @ Royal Albert Hall, London
Sting – Sacred Love