I saw Sting in concert, only once. I think it was 2010.  It was a great show.

But let me tell you… given the charm and intimacy of our small riverside venue, and the combined talent of these six great musicians, tonight’s Blue Turtles show at the Brisbane Jazz Club was just as entertaining as that show at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

And from the very first note, it was just as memorable!!

‘So, Ladies and Gentlemen…for your entertainment this evening…bringing you the very best of Sting, via an eclectic mix of classics and lesser known gems…may I present The Blue Turtles…’

What a band!! What a HUGE sound!! And what a powerful contribution from everyone on our stage tonight!!

Cleon Barraclough’s dancing fingers got to every note on that grand piano…which will undoubtedly need a tune-up after that work-out!!

  1. A. (Marianne) McCarthy was right there in the pocket, on guitar and backing vocals.

Chris Pearson’s driving electric bass licks were perfectly Sting-esque…alongside Steve Francis, who gave us the best of Stewart Copeland and Vinnie Colaiuta on the drum kit.

Weaving and stitching it all together, with his tenor sax, soprano sax, keyboard and backing vocals, was Musical Director and multi-instrumentalist Neil Wickham. And, as maestro of the special effects, he also had all the atmospheric pops, clicks and tinkles…in all the right places.

And right at home, there sat the heart of it all, was the glamorous and glorious lead vocal of Renae Suttie.

When Neil first approached Renaeduring the creation of the show, her initial response was, ‘Really? You want a chick to do the songs of Sting?’

Well, yes he did!! And the result is magnificent.

This repertoire…these songs and arrangements…can challenge the very best of vocalists. And Renae, who could be rightly called, Renae Sultry, absolutely nailed it…delivering every note, every word, every emotion…with a beautiful, clear and ringing, deep, soulful, true-to-Sting style.

And of course, her shining, open face, beautiful smile and sparkling personality, are a big bonus!!

As she explained with that smile, ‘While most of Sting’s songs are in an alto/female range…when you see me sitting down, you will know that I am digging deep…for the lower stuff.’

Across the night, the Blue Turtles show featured songs from several albums,  including….

From Sting’s first solo album, Dream Of The Blue Turtles, they gave us ‘Love Is The Seventh Wave’, ‘If You Love Someone, Set Them Free’, ‘Children’s Crusade’ and ‘Consider Me Gone’ .

They opened the second set as a quartet…Cleon, Chris, Steve and Neil… with the instrumental title track, ‘The Dream Of The Blue Turtles’.

From Ten Summoners Tales, came ‘She’s Too Good For Me’, ‘If Ever I Lose My Faith In You’, ‘Shape Of My Heart’, ‘Seven Days’, and ‘Stronger Than Justice’.

And Low Pitch Alert!!  Renae was on the stool for ‘Fields of Gold’ and ‘It’s Probably Me’. 

From …Nothing Like the Sun, there was a personal favourite of mine…‘Englishman In New York’, an up-tempo version of ‘Fragile’, a boppy, funky version of ‘We’ll Be Together’, and the lesser known, ‘Be Still My Beating Heart’, of which, Neil said, ‘It was not a hit. But it was one we just HAD to play!!’

From Mercury Fallingthey gave us ‘I’m So Happy, I Can’t Stop Crying’.

From The Police album, Outlandos d’Amour, there was ‘Roxanne’, with Renae’s soaring, crystal-clear vocal. And wow!! That BIG note at the end!!

And they sent us home with a haunting soprano sax solo from Neil, at the end of the band’s final song of the night, ’When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around’…from The Police album Zenyatta Mondatta.

These are not easy songs to perform…play or sing. And this band brought them all home perfectly. Funky at times. Clean and creamy smooth, when called for. Powerful lead vocals, with sweet two and three-part harmonies, when needed.

Six talented musicians. Rich, Sting-quality arrangements and instrumentation. Vocals that hit every piercing high and touched every rumbling, growling low. All with an unmistakeable Sting feel, touch, tone and inflection.

Thank you, all six of you, for a great Saturday night by the Brisbane River.

The Brisbane Jazz Club is an historic, iconic venue. But without players like you, we are nothing but an old boat shed with a million-dollar view!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club