A little less than magic...
A subdued Sting took fans on a stroll through songs old and new, with the results veering between the sacred and the profane
Stings Bangkok concert on Wednesday part of his 'Sacred Love' World Tour 2005 went off overwhelmingly well, beginning with the unusually early arrival of the children of the 80s and more fans queuing outside Impact Arena to buy tickets, which held up the show.
The early birds in the hall, who didn't know about the queues outside, endured a long wait with no opening act to fill the time.
Stings appearance at almost 9pm was thus much appreciated, with many in the conservative-looking audience rising to their feet right from the opening bars of 'Send Your Love' from the 'Sacred Love' album.
Prior to the show, Sting pledged US$50,000 (Bt1.94 million) to the tsunami relief effort, so it was surprising that he made no mention of the tragedy during the concert. Instead, he let his music do the talking.
He appeared wearing a pinstripe suit, but doffed it after a minute. In black shirt and designer trousers, he smiled to his music but not the audience.
Send your love into the future / Send your precious love into some distant time / Fix that wounded planet with the love of your healing / Send your love
It was a nice opening for the concert, and fans couldn't believe he was back in Bangkok again so many years after his first performance here.
Sting played his guitar, true to the album original, but this was a live concert, and he could repeat the title phrase as many times as he wished.
Sting next sent his famous SOS via 'Message in a Bottle', and we got the message. Then obviously following the same set list he used in Singapore on Monday came 'Hounds of Winter'.
There were two big video screens on either side of the stage, zooming in on Sting all evening, to the delight of distant fans who otherwise saw him matchstick-size.
His greeting to the crowd, when it came, lasted no longer than a minute. No sawadee or wai, and still no mention of the tsunami.
The next song came from the new album, 'Dead Mans Rope', with back-up singers Donna Gardier and Joy Rose entertaining with their dance moves.
'Brand New Day' was a nice follow-up, its beautiful beginning reminding fans of Stings ability at lush instrumentation and the ethnic rhythms that dominate his pop.
Dominic Miller's guitar playing was outstanding on 'Shape of My Heart', and Sting had everyone up and dancing again to the familiar beat.
'Englishman in New York' enlightened the audience about why they really came. This particular Englishman knows the song is always a crowd-pleaser.
The full band assembled for 'Fragile', but acoustic stylings were the evenings highlight, particularly the xylophone glowing in the background.
'Fields of Gold' came in an acoustic package that most fans relished, singing along happily.
The soulful mood of 'Sacred Love' failed to infect the majority, though, with most people sitting out the sophisticated verses in a tune that varied little from the album and admiring the synchronised lights in changing colours against the white backdrop.
'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' followed, the crowd loving its feel, then 'Whenever I Say Your Name', during which Joy Rose came to the stage front to sing the part Mary J Blige originated.
Her duet with Sting was powerful, with hip-hop beats and a far more cheery rendering than on the album.
'Never Coming Home' was next, Rose and Gardier thrilling again with their voices. Then Sting launched into 'Roxanne' to a roar from the audience, thrilled to hear another signature hit from the Police age.
But it was an unfamiliar flavour, with Roxann-o repeated too often and the band pumping out a heavy techno beat in the background.
Sting paused briefly before the first encore, 'Desert Rose', another much-anticipated song for the fans, but there was disappointment when the Arabic lyrics of Cheb Mami were omitted from the beginning. There should at least have been someone else there to rise to the challenge.
And there was too much synthesiser for such an ethnically tinged piece. Sting hummed most of the remainder and chanted the rest of Mami's part, again and again, before quickly jumping into 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You'.
This was a great old treat from 'Ten Summoners Tales', and the audience loved it as much as ever.
'Every Breath You Take' was an unabashed favourite for everyone in the house, and Sting seemed to enjoy himself too.
Another short break, and as the final encore, 'A Thousand Years' from his previous album Brand New Day ended the show. The sweet and sophisticated lyrics by Sting and Kipper floated in the hall.
I still love you / I still want you / A thousand times the mysteries / Unfold themselves / Like galaxies in my head.
Sting had utilised all his experience as a performer, musician and singer-songwriter and put on a fine concert, but at the same time he failed to show much enthusiasm.
He moved a little and danced a little and talked very little. It was only the power of his songs that kept everyone happy.
Most of the highlights were older material, and while Sting tried to blend in his newer songs, the result was merely okay.
(c) The Nation by Vipasai Niyamabha