(Words – Tobias Handke, Photos – Rodney Magazinovic)
It’s not often you witness two music legends grace the stage together, but that’s exactly what happened when Paul Simon and Sting played Coopers Brewery over the weekend.
As the sun began to set over the picturesque outdoor arena, Sarah Blasko charmed the swelling crowd before the main players arrived. Looking like the original Odd Couple (Sting; tall, trim, bearded and with a surprising head of hair, Simon; short, stocky and wearing his trademark fedora), there was nothing funny about the dynamic duo as they wowed the audience from the get going.
Accompanied by their respective bands (including two drummers, a percussionist, a brass section, keyboards and multiple guitarists to name a few), the two opened with Sting’s “Brand New Day,” followed by Simon’s “The Boy In The Bubble,” then a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Sting’s “Field Of Gold.”
Each artist played two solo sets amongst numerous duets, with Sting’s guitar heavy rock complementing Simon’s slower yet groovy Afro-beat influenced style. Sting’s sets were Police heavy, with “So Lonely,” “Walking On The Moon” and an extended version of “Message In A Bottle” all highlights. Red lights bathed the stage for “Roxanne,” while his own songs “Fragile” and “The Hounds Of Winter” showcased his tremendous vocals. It must be noted that Sting’s backup singer, Adelaide girl Jo Lawry, was absolutely sensational, nailing notes like she was the star of the show.
While the crowd rocked out with Sting, it was Simon who first got everyone on their feet dancing during his mega hit “Graceland.” Alternating between slower tracks (“The Cool, Cool River,” “Hearts And Bones”), covers (Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train” intercut with The String-A-Longs’ “Wheels”) and crowd favourites (“Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Feet,” “You Can Call Me Al”), Simon delivered an engaging performance, dancing around the stage during songs and generally having a good time. His version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “The Boxer” was truly breathtaking.
But the best was saved for last when the two old timers closed the near three hour extravaganza together. Although their remarkably strong vocals are contrasting, they worked tremendously well together, with Sting owning Art Garfunkel’s part during “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The crowd happily joined in during “Cecilia” and Police mega hit” Every Breath You Take,” with the entire front section of the stage turned into an oldies dance floor. The two finished with a wonderful cover of The Everly Brothers “When Will I Be Loved” that had everyone standing and applauding.
Paul Simon and Sting delivered a master class in musicianship and song writing that was truly a treasure to witness. It’s only early days, but this will be hard to bear for gig of the year. The bar has been set.