Lute-a-palooza with Sting

In the Jennifer Saunders “AB Fab’’) series “Clatterford,” which will air on BBC America, there’s a line in which a socialite remarks about a party at “Madonna and Ritchie’s place’’ that was fantastic until Sting started playing the lute.

We can relate.

At the PBS party Saturday night, Sting performed in front of about 100 critics in a small room. Sting’s fascination with Elizabethan songwriter John Dowland has escalated into a record album and a special to be aired on PBS’ “Great Performances.’’

I’m good for about 15 minutes of lute music, even if it is Sting playing less than 20 feet in front of me. He played for an hour. But at least he topped it off with three rockin’ standards: Robert Johnson’s smoking “Hellhound on My Trail,’’ his lyrical “Fields of Gold’’ and the classic “Message in a Bottle.’’

In a post-concert interview, he says that he wants to do something to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Police, although he isn’t quite sure what that might be. “We started 30 years ago, so it would be nice to do something to celebrate,’’ Sting says. “We don’t quite know what, but we’re talking about it.’’

And he fielded the question about his odd moniker.

“I’d always had nicknames, but I was in a band, and the band nickname was Sting because it suited my personality. It’s a silly name. You’ll get used to it,’’ Sting quipped. “ It’s cryptic and it’s very simple to sign, not like Engelbert Humperdinck.’’

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