Sydney, NSW, AU
Opera Housewith None

Sting performs at the Sydney Opera House on January 31...

It must be quite something for the contemporary songwriter and musician to stand in front of an acclaimed orchestra and hear their works fill the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House.

Such a venerable venue has hosted more than its fair share of modern meets Mozart fare, with Sting the latest "pop'' star to grace its stage with swelling arrangements of vast catalogue.

The Symphonicity concert cleverly travels a wide swathe through his repertoire from the unmistakable yet intriguingly tweaked 'Roxanne' through to the bombastic and powerful 'Russians'.

While the purpose of this concert is simply to present the songs in grander or at least different styles, Symphonicity demonstrates Sting is pretty handy at most genres.

'I Hung My Head' - a song he proudly announced was covered by Johnny Cash - reminded the fans he could turn his hand to country while the soaring Arabic influence which steers 'Desert Rose' reiterates the musical pull the Middle East continues to have on western songwriters.

But this was also a concert of wit and humour - the brass section indulged in choreographed hat antics while Sting and his own bandmates including Australian Jo Lawry and his longtime guitarist Dominic Miller indulged some light-hearted line-dancing.

Some songs worked better than others with the always enjoyable Sydney Symphony - 'Englishman In New York', 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', 'If I ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Fields Of Gold' used the orchestra to full effect.

There were a couple of moments when the dual percussive assault of David Cossin and Rhani Krija were just too much in front of the rest of the music.

The frontman himself shared some of the stories behind the songs and was in fine voice, proving he can still sustain the high notes even as he nudges 60.

Sting performs at the concert hall again tonight and Sydney Opera House forecourt on Thursday and Friday.

(c) The Daily Telegraph by Kathy McCabe