|Winipeg Sun||STING/ANNIE LENNOX
Monday, October 11, 2004
CALGARY -- You could have left the Sting/Annie Lennox concert last night halfway through and still very much have gotten your money's worth. And then some.
In fact, based on reviews of the iconic '80s stars' double-bill, many of the sold-out Saddledome crowd may already have planned for their sitters to be home a little early.
Everywhere the pair have played the overwhelming consensus has been that Lennox's opening set has blown her co-headliner clear out of the water. Five minutes in, it wasn't difficult to see or hear why.
The sexy, enigmatic former Eurythmic was more than anyone could have possibly expected. True, throughout her career, she has produced some memorable and entertaining hits and yes, her latest album Bare is a stark, honest and beautiful piece of work. But it was hard to imagine before last night that those qualities would translate live as remarkably as they did.
The singer was everything you want from a superstar -- captivating with her presence, owning the room with her confidence and showing no sign that her star is sagging. And did I mention sexy? Not just in how she looked, which was fit and lean and lithe, but in her attitude, her unquestionable aura of cool. But of course none of that would have made any difference, none of that would have mattered in the least if her voice wasn't as powerful, wasn't as soul-reaching, as it was.
If you didn't have goosebumps on your goosebumps when she sat at a piano and launched into Here Comes The Rain Again -- and if you weren't completely and utterly in love with her during the outrageously-buoyant Walking On Broken Glass -- then you weren't in the building.
And if you were, you were most likely Sting, standing backstage, listening to her perform and to the well-earned ovations and wondering what you could possibly do to top her. The only real complaint anyone could possibly have is that Lennox barely verbally acknowledged we existed -- choosing instead to do that by giving us a set as entertaining as we'll likely see -- and, far more disappointing, that she was only given an hour. But no one is going to be talking about those things.
Everyone is rightfully going to be talking about what she did give us.
She still, in that short span, hit all of the highlights -- No More I Love Yous, Sweet Dreams and, especially, back-to-back rock versions of Missionary Man and I Need A Man. Again, by the time Lennox was done with us, we'd had our show.
Pity poor Sting. For many reasons, but most especially having to follow that.
But speaking as someone who thinks pop stars couldn't get more irrelevant or banal than the former Police frontman, his set actually started off as though he were up to the task -- if not musically, at least in pacing and presentation.
He kicked off with the soft-pumping techno track Send Your Love and wisely followed with two hits from his heyday, Synchronicity II and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. While the latter was sorely lacking in passion and intensity, the paying public at least knew the words.
From there, after losing the audience with the lesser-known Dead Man's Rope -- made notable only by the topless figures dancing on the screen behind -- Sting wisely brought back out the evening's true headliner for a duet on We'll Be Together.
Hard act to follow
To underline the point, until Lennox actually took to the stage, the song was flatlining, and when she left (sexily, I might add) so too did the energy in the room. You could hear the sucking sound as Sting returned to his solo material.
A high-energy show was rendered almost inert -- mainly because there was little or no charisma emanating from the man who rarely moved performing it.
Too often the show relied upon familiarity (see the reaction to an otherwise lifeless and over