Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together

Glasgow, GB
SSE Hydro
Paul Simon & Sting at SSE Hydro, Glasgow...

They are an odd couple, Paul Simon and Sting, and yet they are not. Certainly when they first walked out onstage at the beginning of this marathon three-hour gig, the physical differences made them reminiscent of a buddy comedy film. Sting, taller, more overtly confident and possessing a beard that suggested he's become a survivalist, Simon, hat on and more awkward.

Yet musically there's common ground aplenty, in adding world music to pop structures, and revamping older material to suit. So while the evening's format, with both artists and their excellent bands sharing the stage and rotating in and out, ran the greatest hits gauntlet, there were surprises too. Here was So Lonely powered by tuba and Walking On The Moon given a brass makeover, while Mrs Robinson shook with Southern blues.

The numbers where the duo shared vocals was also enjoyable, particularly on softer tunes, such as a fine Fragile, although occasionally the sheer weight of numbers onstage meant the combined bands overwhelmed.

The separate segments spotlighted both individual playing and musical discrepancies. If Sting's tended to be more directly powerful then they could be too earnest, meaning a tremendously full-throated Message In A Bottle competed with the clunky, droning End of the Game. Simon's segments proved more fleet of foot, nimbly skipping between genres, whether on the lithe playfulness of 50 Ways To Leave You Lover, an effortlessly languid Still Crazy After All These Years or a rattling cover of Mystery Train.

A quibble would be that the set perhaps lacked any real spontaneity or interaction, save Simon's dedication of a typically bubbly You Can Call Me Al to his daughter, but this was a quality show, all the way through to a closing, sparse Everly Brothers cover.

(c) Glasgow Herald by Jonathan Geddes