Sting enchants audiences at Durham Cathedral...September 17, 2009
Two weeks ago, Sting, accompanied by a group of breathtakingly accomplished musicians and singers from around the globe arrived in the beautiful north east city of Durham, some twelve miles south of Sting's hometown of Newcastle. Sting confesses to returning home too seldom, but where better to premiere the material from his forthcoming winter themed album "If On A Winter's Night..." than with two shows in the magnificent setting of the thousand year old Durham Cathedral, recently voted Britain's favourite building and a UNESCO world heritage site?
Following rehearsals in the Chapter House, Sting and the musicians relocated to the cathedral's central tower where afternoon visitors could watch and listen to a celebration of music that spanned the period that the cathedral has existed. Ancient lullabies, poems, hymns, carols, Northumbrian music and Sting's own compositions all sat comfortably side by side under the guiding hand of distinguished producer Robert Sadin.
Director Jim Gable, responsible for previous DVD projects such as Sting's "...All This Time", "Inside the Songs of Sacred Love", "Journey and The Labyrinth", and the Police's "Certifiable" led a crew filming the Durham visit and performances.
Weaving through all the songs on "If On A Winter's Night..." are the themes of winter, ghosts and spirits, religion and the pull of home back to loved and missed ones. The musicians and singers complemented the songs impeccably - the Northumbrian pipes of Kathryn Tickell are so evocative of the area and are an instant reminder to Sting fans of his classic 1991 album "The Soul Cages", an album that drew heavily on his north-east roots. Kathryn, and brother Peter Tickell's fiddle playing encouraged the audience to forget they were in a place of worship and consider reeling down the aisles, Dominic Miller's understated and delicate guitar playing, the harp playing and gorgeous Gaelic singing of Mary Macmaster on the album's piece de resistance "Christmas At Sea", the yearning cello of Vincent Ségal, and the incredibly atmospheric percussion of Rhani Krija, Cyro Baptista and Bashiri Johnson entranced the audience of family, friends and fan club members.
But of course it is unfair to single out specific musicians as this was truly a team effort with the noted ensemble contributing to a sound that some of the two hundred fan club members present described as "magical", "full of energy and spirituality", "a great night at a great venue", "a brilliant show", "out of this world", "a once in a lifetime experience", "absolutely fantastic", "an amazing evening", and "no more suitable place for such heavenly music."