After the Super Thursday races at the all new Meydan racetrack, Sting bounced on stage in black jodhpurs to give the crowds what they had been hoping for – energetic, passionate renditions from his backlist.
He kicked things off on the dot of midnight (an hour late) with Message in a Bottle and kept them coming, one past hit after another, barely pausing for water. He may be approaching 60, but the man has clearly still got it, belting out the crowd-pleasers and ballads with unfeigned enthusiasm and mixing things up with the occasional vocal riff and acoustic aside. A few more up-tempo songs wouldn't have gone amiss, but the old favourites were all there, from Roxanne and Walking on the Moon, to Fields of Gold and Englishman in New York.
It was a surprisingly chilly night, and the hand-over from horse racing to pop act was always going to prove a feat. Golden Circle ticket holders were corralled through a tunnel beneath the race track and into a holding area behind the stage where they waited in their thousands, drinks in hand, for the race track to be cleared and prepared. It was an orderly process in the end, but there were no announcements and delays were inevitable.
Once the act was under way, a vast screen offered fans across the race track a chance to see some of the action. Meydan is no bespoke concert venue, that's for sure, but the grandstand makes for an incredible backdrop – a goliath of a building which stretches almost as far as the eye can see (just under a mile, to be exact).
In our pre-concert interview Sting told us, ‘It’s my job to stand up there and sing songs I wrote 35 years ago with the energy and commitment and sense of discovery as if I’d written them that afternoon.’ It's the kind of sound bite you don't take literally. Watching Sting perform Meydan on Thursday night, it was clear he meant every word.