One-time neighbours in the same New York apartment building and a friendship that followed, leading to one of the most fascinating musical pairings and one hell of a musical event as Paul Simon and Sting ‘On Stage Together’ hit Melbourne for one night only last Tuesday February 10.

Rod Laver Arena erupted to the arrival of a bearded Sting with a considerable shorter Simon in tow launching onto a rotation of solo sets hinged by melodic collaborations drawn from two iconic musical careers. By the time Sting launched solo into So Lonely the musical kaleidoscope of reggae, New Orleans Jazz, Soul fusion and country folk twang had already bled from a huge cast of multi instrumentalists.

Combining their two talented bands and often featuring simultaneous drummers alongside a communal brass section and a percussion playroom to die for the two Hall Of Fame greats fed an adoring crowd a selection of favourites including Fields Of Gold, Walking On The Moon, Mrs Robinson, Graceland, and superb fusion of Roxanne with Ain’t No Sunshine left fans from both side of the apartment block grinning from ear to ear.

Sting’s soaring range and multitask timing ability on the bass amongst a landslide of rhythm showed no sign of wear and tear and was highlighted in a heartfelt tribute to his idol, acknowledging the presence of a ‘Paul Simon soundtrack’ attaching signature songs to many of the heartbreaks and happy moments throughout his life. Performing Simon’s America solo on guitar Sting moved seamlessly into Message In A Bottle as every instrument in the house got a hiding.

Other standouts included a crazy washboard solo in Standing On The Corner Of Lafayette, a Sting Simon duet of The Boxer, and a huge special mention to Adelaide Aussie Jo Lawry on backing vocals sitting above sting the entire night…wow that gal can sing!

While it’s hard to follow and epic like Call Me Al, no epic concert is complete without an equally epic encore, and in every anticipation it was Every Breath You Take followed by a haunting Bridge Over Troubled Water that would have given Art Garfunkel goose bumps! Epic!


(as written for the Australian Musicians Network)