Sacred Love

Margaret River, WA, AU
Leeuwin Estate Winerywith None
Corporate big end blocks the view...

To stand and dance, or sit and listen? That was the decision faced by the Corporates in the audience for Sting's second concert at Leeuwin on Saturday.

It is traditionally the night when the Big End of town descends on the winery in black tie and evening gowns for the annual concert, occupying one side of the vineyard slopes while the Grass People - that is, everybody else who is prepared to go casual and picnic on the lawns - take up the other side.

Normally it's a sedate affair for Corporates, who are provided with low-slung seating courtesy of the Horgan family, who run Leeuwin Estate.

This time, though, there were rumblings of discontent among the Corporates, most of whom stood to dance during Sting's nearly two-hour set of rock numbers and ballads. It meant those who wished to sit and listen faced the heaving backsides of those in front. The only solution was to get up and join them.

The Grass People, however, quietly picnicked and watched in well-behaved seating patterns on rugs.

Some of them behind the Corporates, however, found their view blocked by the dancing backsides and pelted them with bread rolls to encourage them to sit down. To no avail, though, and by the end of the night the entire estate was a mass of heaving, standing bodies.

None of this dance-or-not-dance question seemed to spoil the evening for Sting's devotees because the singer and songwriter is a God of the rock world.

He is certainly impressive as vocalist and bass player, launching into song after song without a crack in the voice or a break in the music.

Sting's bass sets the groundwork for each rock song, pounding the musical synapses of the brain into submission before the rest of the band takes up and embellishes each riff.

There was some scintillating guitar work from his long-time colleague Dominic Miller and powerful vocals from the two back-up singers, especially the virtuoso dueting of Sting with Joy Rose, whose voice delivers more high-end decibels than a jet on take-off.

But sometimes less is more, and the bracket of three songs that opened the program - 'Fragile', 'Fields of Gold' and 'Shape of My Heart', performed with minimalist accompaniment, showed Sting's songwriting skills to maximum effect.

These moments of contemplation were not to last as Sting signalled his intention to rock with 'Brand New Day' and 'Message in Bottle'. In an instant the Corporates were on their feet, the most enthusiastic rushing to the front for a better view and more room to dance. From that point it was pretty much a run through the Sting songbook, with 'Englishman in New York' irresistible in its invitation to bop and groove, 'Every Breath You Take' (the ultimate stalker's song) and 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' among the highlights.

Surprisingly, Sting spoke very little between the numbers as they tumbled out of his vast and versatile repertoire, making no references to the social responsibilities of the rock star to save the planet - a subject on which his fundraising activities have given him the right to sermonise on occasions.

So we never had our social conscience pricked at all, allowing everyone to concentrate on his vintage rock style presentation with its glamour, sweat and musical talent.

Maybe it wasn't your average Leeuwin concert where one listens, rather than dances, but Sting's legion of fans would have been well satisfied.

They certainly outnumbered the disgruntled Corporates.

(c) The West Australian by Ron Banks

Superstar rocks 'em...

Rock superstar Sting wowed a sell-out audience with a rollicking get-up-and-dance show at Leeuwin Estate winery last night.

The British singer took to the gum-tree framed stage at dusk, opening with a powerful rendition of one of his new hits, 'Fragile'.

As night fell, a colourful light show electrified the stage, with Sting belting out a string of classics from his 1980s powerhouse group The Police, to his more recent Middle Eastern-influenced songs.

He performed for nearly two hours, with the crowd on its feet to hits 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Message In A Bottle'.

The 6800-strong crowd was treated to a class performance by the Brit, whose Thursday charity concert raised more than $4 million to rebuild communities shattered by the Boxing Day tsunami.

WA business leaders, politicians and glamour glitterati donned black-tie, having shelled out thousands of dollars to enjoy a luxury four-course meal and VIP front-row seating.

Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and their wives, Rianna and Mel, are big fans and they watched the action from Leeuwin's award-winning restaurant.

General admission ticket holders, many who waited outside for hours with rugs and picnic hampers, took part in the annual rush for the best vantage points when the gates opened late in the afternoon.

Earlier in the week, Sting enjoyed a family holiday with wife Trudie Styler and the two youngest of their four children, daughter Coco, 14, and son Giacomo, 9,

They hit the tourist trail, visiting beaches and caves after flying in to perform his only Australian concerts.

On Thursday, the rock legend, his children and a male friend chartered a helicopter for an aerial tour of Geographe Bay and the region's wineries.

He surprised guests on the $13 million luxury cruise ship True North, anchored in Bunker Bay, by dropping in for a quick tour and cup of coffee.

(c) The Sunday Times by Peta Hellard