The former Police frontman popped into the award-winning Fishy Fishy Restaurant in Kinsale on Sunday, met with fans including one who gave him six pairs of boxer shorts, before later popping to Sin É in Cork City centre to sing a tune, much to the delight of patrons.
All in a day’s work for Gordon Sumner, but those he met along the way on Sunday evening are unlikely to forget it in a hurry.
First up, he travelled to Fishy Fishy, with word spreading around town that he was in the vicinity.
TV3 football commentator Trevor Welch was among those who got in on the act, posting a picture of himself with Sting alongside the words “everything he does is magic”.
“My great friend Dave O’Connor gave Sting a red pair of Jack Doyle boxer shorts to wear on stage in Cork tonight,” he tweeted. “He loved the Doyle story.”
Dave O’Connor of Cork-based Suits Distributors confirmed the boxer shorts yarn — in fact, Sting ended up with half a dozen pairs.
Dave’s company has developed a Jack Doyle line of clothing in memory of the Cobh-born boxer.
“I was down in the [Kinsale] area with my van and I had some Jack Doyle stuff. I waited outside the restaurant and when I came out, I asked could I have a few minutes of his time.
“I explained this year is the centenary of Jack Doyle — he was blown away by the story.”
Then Dave moved from boxing to boxer shorts.
“I basically gave him half a dozen pairs of boxer shorts. I said they’re red, they’re the Cork colours, and would he wear them on stage tonight? He said he’d be delighted to.
“He was very pleasant and courteous.”
Sting then headed back to Cork after 9pm and pitched up in Sin É, a renowned spot for traditional music.
Lisa O’Sullivan, Eileen Healy, James Dilks, and Eric Long were playing a session, when suddenly the penny dropped Sting was listening.
Lisa, a fiddle player, said: “Eric, our banjo player, decided to approach him and asked him for a song.
“They were very charming, they were lovely.”
Audio clips of the song emerged yesterday, a version of his song ‘I Was Brought To My Senses’, with Sting singing alongside Jo Lawry, a jazz vocalist and musician accompanying him on tour.
“The whole place was just enthralled,” said Lisa
“He was very complementary, he said he loved the music [we were playing]. He was there a good 15 minutes before Eric approached him.”
Lisa said his rendition of the song was “stunning”, and that afterwards, he, his wife, and friends went back to the bar and carried on with their drinks.
Those at the Marquee heard plenty more of the man himself last night, although at the time of writing it could not be confirmed whether he had his new underwear on.
Hey Sting: you don’t have to ‘put on the red shorts’.
Ah, go on then…
* Hear Sting at Sin É: http://exa.mn/kc
Sting may be a bit more pensive now than he was when ‘Roxanne’ was first released in 1978, but he still delivers a show packed with energy.
For a 61-year-old, he also looks almost as fresh as ever. And, of course, as indicated by the title, the Back To Bass tour is a celebration of Sting dropping the lutes, flutes, and esoteric folk music and returning to the instrument he plays best.
“Sláinte. I am delighted to be in Cork, my first time here which is odd because my grandmother Agnes Murphy is from here,” he tells the crowd.
For both The Police and his solo material, most of the biggest hits are built around iconic, memorable bass lines: ‘Driven To Tears’, ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’, ‘Every Breath You Take’, ‘Fields of Gold’, and ‘King of Pain’.
Sting was chatty and charming throughout and the audience repaid him with claps and singalongs on command, and it was the best sound I’ve ever heard in the tent.
Some of the songs are given very creative makeovers. ‘Message In A Bottle’ is now a rockier number and the crowd loved the new reggae feel of ‘Englishman In New York’, lifted by the entire band singing the “whoa” parts in choral fashion.
And what a band! Dominic Miller (ex-Phil Collins, Backstreet Boys, Pavarotti) on guitars, Vinnie Colaiuta (ex-Zappa) on drums, and David Sancious (ex-E Street Band) on keyboards.
Despite Sting’s clear dominance of the band, and despite the other members’ prior successes, this really does feel more like a band than a session supergroup.
They’ve been touring this show virtually non-stop since Oct 2011. When you see these musicians on stage, their shared passion for this music is palpable from start to finish. The Police reunion tour lasted 13 months from May 2007 to Aug 2008, garnering ecstatic reviews every night. That tour was good, this tour is better.
My personal highlight? ‘Driven to Tears’.