Great blast of Sting nostalgia

The In the Flesh band in a moment from Synchronicity at the Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof. Further performances are planned for October 15, 16 and 17 at the Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre in Durban.

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STAGE: Synchronicity – Rhumbelow Theatre, Tina’s Hotel, Kloof (last performance at 2pm on August 15) and again on October 15, 16 and 17 at the Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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IN THE planning since 2019 but constantly postponed due to ongoing lockdowns from Covid-19 chaos, this tribute to the music of Sting and The Police finally opens on the Rhumbelow Theatre circuit after first having been scheduled to debut in April last year.

It has been well worth waiting for. Those who attended yesterday’s debut matinee at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof were more than satisifed with the enjoyable blast of nostalgia from Durban’s In the Flesh band, in the team’s third Rhumbelow production following an excellent Pink Floyd tribute and fun Southern Rock Classics.

In the Flesh has the foundation of amiable and versatile Ross Tapson on vocals, lead and acoustic guitar, Neil Ford on bass and Grant Halliday on drums. For this new show, a regular newcomer to the band, fine singer-guitarist Aaron Saunders, is missing, due to Synchronicity having been devised before he joined. Instead, guest performers are popular, ubiquitous vocalist Marion Loudon and seasoned Keith Fordyce on keyboards, guitar and backing vocals.

Both Fordyce and, much more so, the ever-ebullient Loudon prove valuable additions to the line-up in a show that, at its very first performance yesterday, opened with a few wobbly moments in its opening numbers – Don’t Stand So Close to Me (a missed opportunity for some fun patter, the title nodding to the new norm of social distancing) and King of Pain.

Fortunately, these slightly worrying few hiccups were quick to fade when the team found its collective stride and went from strength to strength from the third number – Tapson handling vocals and guitar on If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.

Highlights came thick and fast from then, the band relying on the absolute minimum of casual chit-chat to instead let the music, under the control of sound engineer Colin Peddie, speak loudly for itself.

Ross Tapson and Marion Loudon share lead vocals in Synchronicity, a tribute to Sting and The Police.

The 23 songs chosen – three of them (So Lonely, De Do Do Do and Every Little Thing She Does is Magic) in medley form to close the show – are selected from Sting’s solo career and his time with The Police, and songs featured include both hits and less obvious numbers.

With the cast dressed in black and lighting designer Sarah Claxton’s ever-changing hues and patterns adding to the atmosphere, the team delivers a good portrait of Sting (one-time school teacher turned musician Gordon Sumner) and The Police, the hit British trio formed in London in 1977 and whose rock was influenced by punk, reggae and jazz.

Loudon and Tapson share lead vocals, sometimes harmonise together, and do particularly well with the colourfully quirky Seven Days (Loudon on lead vocals), Walking on the Moon (Loudon on lead vocals) and Fragile and Fields of Gold (Ross excelling on both ballads with vocals and, while seated on a stool, acoustic guitar).

Also worth special mention, with Tapson again on lead vocals, are the challenging and raucous Synchronicity 2, the crowd-pleasing Every Breathe You Take and Englishman in New York, and a great first-half closer in a moody and mellow delivery of Roxanne, featuring Loudon on lead vocals, Tapson on acoustic guitar and a wave of red lighting.

Shape of My Heart (Loudon)and Message in a Bottle (Tapson) open the show’s second half, followed by Tapson offering a nice guitar solo in Mad About You, featuring Loudon on lead vocals.

Also among items on the programme are Invisible Sun (delivery was a little lacklustre, for me), the smooth, hypnotic and subtly jazzy It’s Probably Me (from the film Lethal Weapon), She’s Too Good For Me, I Can’t Stand Losing You and the snappy We’ll be Together which features Loudon on lead vocals and a fine bass solo from Ford.

NOTE: The final performance of Synchronicity is at 2pm today (August 15) at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof, with other performances scheduled for October 15, 16 and 17 at the Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre. Tickets cost R160 each and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.


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