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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Sing along with Sting
Sting
Sting combined a mixture of old and new tunes
By the BBC's Neil Smith

"Be yourself, no matter what they say," Sting sings at the close of An Englishman In New York, his jaunty tribute to the late Quentin Crisp.

It is a neat summation of how the former Police frontman has dealt with critical hostility and increasing public apathy to his cerebral and rather pompous oeuvre.

His albums may not sell as well as they used to, but he can still fill up open-air stadia like the one currently occupying the south-east corner of Hyde Park.

Sting
Sting chose a floral shirt to wow the crowd

And if he is aware of how unhip he has become, he certainly did not show it on Saturday night as he launched into a confident two-hour set which deftly combined new material with old favourites.

Seven tracks came from his most recent album, the 1999 release Brand New Day, though only After The Rain Has Fallen and Desert Rose (featuring magnificent guest vocals from Africa's Cheb Mami) had a galvanising effect on the audience.

He was on safer ground with such rousing pop anthems as If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You and We'll Be Together.

But the crowd were just as responsive to slower, more thoughtful compositions like All This Time and Mad About You - the only songs to be taken from his "difficult" third album The Soul Cages.

Poignant

Dressed in a ghastly floral print shirt and baggy slacks, Sting was in his element marshalling a band of expert jazz men, with pride of place taken by Chris Botti's soaring trumpet.

And as the sun set over the London park, the poignant Fields Of Gold had punters humming along in wistful reverie.

But as tolerant as the audience were to his solo offerings, the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for Police classics like Roxanne and Every Breath You Take.

Sting even played along with this, nonchalantly incorporating a few bars of Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic during his rendition of Seven Days.

After encouraging his fans to belt out the chorus to Message In A Bottle at the top of their lungs, it was probably a mistake to close the concert with the funereal Fragile.

But then you can always count on Sting to infuriate as much as he entertains.

See also:

01 May 01 | Music
Sting unhurt in plane drama
09 Apr 01 | Music
Sting slates Bush over Kyoto
21 Dec 00 | Scotland
Sting's song for Madonna baby
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