Mar
29
2000

London, GB (Royal Albert Hall)

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With Cheb Mami

SHOW REVIEW

Rock Steady...

He's got lovely biceps, Sting. When he first picked up his bass, the first thing I noticed was the bulge of his biceps starining through his jacket. Then, when he took off the jacket and stood there in his black army fatigues and simple black vest, you couldn't miss them. Actually, he's much thicker-set than you'd image. Solid looking. Strong. All that yoga and tantric bass playing, I guess.

Sting's one of those people who seems to have been around for so long they're part of the landscape. That classy jazzy pop in the background? Sting. The hard faced bar owner in the grim Brit crime thriller? Sting.

Live, things are much more relaxed than you'd expect. No big stage show. No pyrotechnics. No big band with big name American jazzers. No designer-designed outfits (well not unless you count those muscles). Very much the leading man, although reliably generous in the space he gave others, Sting is able to get away with just being Sting. He's been at it a long time and this 10-night run at the prestigious RAH is testament to his staying power and his popularity.

Ten nights. It's a lot. He's wise enough to know that, whicle the new single from the new album might be a chart hit, what the people want to hear are the familiar oldies, and the show is perfectly - expertly - paced. And yes, he did play 'Roxanne'.

The band, need it be said, were excellent, particularly keyboards player Jason Rebello and Chris Botti, whose plaintive trumpet was often the dominant sound, but then again this is a man whose first paid gig was with Miles Davis. Pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole guested, Jimmy Nail walked by, a couple of tabla players livened up some tunes. It was slick and chic, expert and loose, well-formed, strcutured and taut. Much like our hero really - and you can't ask for a lot more from a mature, adult concert.

(c) The Daily Express by Jeremy Novick



Sting still the golden boy...

It's the beginning of his fourth decade in the business, and Sting is still the blond babe with extraordinary voice and thoughtful lyrics, but his music hasn't stayed still for a minute. Despite his pop megastar status, the singer-guitarist-songwriter has always roamed far afield for his inspiration.

Now French rap (from drummer Manu Katche), Algerian singing (from Cheb Mami, on Desert Rose), and country and western (with pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole) have strayed into the mix. Along with Chris Botti's trumpet harmonising and jazz man Jason Rebello's keyboards, these provided a fillip to some of the talkier parts of the concert; intelligent lyrics give great stereo, but heavy meaning can make for a rather static show, despite the swooping freedom of Sting's vocals.

Nevertheless, his determination to expand his stylistic repertoire means that while the oldies were greeted with ecstatic squeals, material from new album 'Brand New Day' also generated cheers. He may not go multi-platinum anymore, but Sting is still the golden boy.

(c) Metro by Nina Caplan

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