Sting at the Palladium Review: For Fans Who Love Sting (as Much as he Loves Himself)

The former Police frontman shows that he’s aged liked a fine wine at the Palladium – though is perhaps slightly drunk on narcissism as a consequence.



Whether it was the recent multi-million-pound sale of his back catalogue or the heat of the bank holiday Friday evening, which boiled some self-aggrandising thinking to the fore, Sting was in full swing at the London Palladium on the first of a six-night residency there. The thing is: boy didn’t he know it.

The veteran singer and seasoned entertainer has become known for his spiritual activities in his old age (yoga and er… tantric sex) – something which has likely helped him look as well as he does at a remarkable 70-years-old. His performance, however, indicates he might be taking the concept of self-love a little step too far.

That said, the show began – after a semi-decent warm-up from Cruel Hearts Club, who grew into their performance once they’d tuned their instruments – with something that really wasn’t all about the former frontman of The Police. Accompanying Sting for his 1985 single ‘Russians’ was Ukrainian cellist Yaroslava Trofymchuk – a scene with potency, given the song’s central line, “Russians love their children too.”

A simple, effective set which projected Ukrainian flags and the message ‘Free Ukraine’ onto a transparent curtain that gave the effect of a billowing, emotive wind, only added to the delicacy of the moment.

These curtains then broke away and the full band were revealed; but despite the customary introduction of each member, we’re left in little doubt as to who this show is all about. Yet just because you’re aware of your brilliance, doesn’t diminish the performance itself – only that it would be an awful lot more commendable if the main act refrained from harping on about it.

“I want to talk about hits – and I’ve had a few”, he quipped at one stage, unable to hold back the grin in his pleather-clad jacket and trousers. Later he would tell us the mark of a great hit is when – such as he experienced, obviously – the “working class” window cleaner at your hotel in Stoke is found whistling your tune. Whistling ‘Roxanne’, to be precise – “now that’s a hit”.

Moaning aside, there was an undoubted slickness on show as he crooned and strutted from one song stylishly to the other, with classics like ‘Message in a Bottle’ and ‘Englishman in New York’ being among the finer moments.

With a median audience age of around 50 to 60 – as tested when Sting asked the crowd what their favourite Western movie was – getting members to stand up in a seated venue wasn’t an easy feat. But Sting and his band made it difficult to resist getting up and swaying to such singalong hits.

Among his new tracks, from the lockdown album The Bridge, ‘If It’s Love’ sounded much more of a classic than ‘Rushing Water’; the former being dedicated to Sting’s wife who was, we were told, away at their house in the country (“well, it’s more of a castle, really,” Sting couldn’t help but point out).

Sting performance

It wasn’t all about one man though, to be fair. At one point tribute was paid to Juice WRLD, the Chicago rapper who tragically died in 2019 and whose track ‘Lucid Dreams’ used a reworked sample of Sting’s 1993 ‘Shape of My Heart’.

Then there was the moment we were all waiting for – something Sting so obviously knew. Roxanne. The lights inevitably gleamed red, as we told this imaginary figure, whose story has become emblazoned in our musical history, that she doesn’t have to put on the red light or walk the streets for money.

Yet with this song sung so many times, the question is always how it can be renewed and refreshed. Sting, an aforementioned master in maintaining a fresh look (I repeat, he’s 70), did his best, weaving in ‘Walking on the Moon’ and ‘Get Up, Stand Up’. Credit here should equally be paid to his band for their versatility in play.

Overall, it was a solid night of entertainment at the Palladium, and one that fans will no doubt love – if only as much as Sting loves himself.

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