THE buzz of disbelief as news got out that pop icon Sting was performing on the stage of Leith Dockers Club earlier this week was the reflected in the response on social media; ‘Say what now? Sting down at Leith dockers??’ tweeted @Antihippy, while @LeithLate seemed a bit more bemused: ‘Erm...so this happened today.’
It may have seemed an unexpected place to find the one time frontman of The Police, a band that topped the charts in the 70s and 80s with tracks like Message In A Bottle and Walking On The Moon, but in the grander scheme of things, it made perfect sense.
Sting, real name Gordon Sumner, was in town to launch his musical, a tale of dockers and shipbuilding called The Last Ship - it’s coming to the Festival Theatre in 2018.
Zipping by what is left of Leith Docks on the way to lunch at Malmaison, just feet away from where dockers would gather to listen to calls for strike action from their shop stewards back in the day, the 66-year admitted it made him feel at home.
Hardly surprising as home for the young Sting was Wallsend in Tyne and Wear, living in the shadow of the latest ship being build in the local Swan Hunter Shipyard.
Sweeping into the Dockers’, Sting was greeted by a round of applause as he took to the stage to talk about, and sing a few songs from his Broadway show.
At 66, the former heartthrob is still wearing well and his easy, relaxed manner and soft Geordie lilt won his audience over instantly.
Still, you can never tell with these rock stars. So as I waited to interview him afterwards, I was curious to discover how he would be on a one to one.
You’d be surprised how many ‘jovial’ celebrities I’ve interviewed over the years who turned out to be proper pains and how many, who come across as distant, turn out to be some of the friendliest most open people you could wish to meet.
Thankfully, Sting was everything I’d imagined him to be; thoughtful, witty, and candid.
He revealed that long before The Police played Ingliston and The Playhouse in the 80s, he was no stranger to the Capital, regularly playing here with his first band, a jazz fusion outfit called Last Exit.
He recalled, “I played The Traverse with my first band, but we never got to look around the city.
“It was always offstage and straight back to England.”
Which is why he is looking forward to returning for the opening night of The Last Ship, next June.
He might even get a chance to explore the docks he says.
If he does, he’ll find a very different environment to the one he and many of my fellow Leither’s grew up in .
It’s a long time since a ship was launched down the slipway from the old Henry Robb shipyards into the water where The Britannia is currently berthed.
Hopefully, if it does one thing, The Last Ship will bring back memories of those long lost days.