MUSIC: Music For Montserrat

Feb 02, 1999
Track List And Lyrics
    DISC NO: 1
  1. Message In A Bottle lyrics
  2. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic lyrics
Recorded At


Although not strictly a 'Sting' video, this release is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. Recorded at the all-star benefit show organised by Sir George Martin at London's Royal Albert Hall on 15 September 1997, in aid of the island of Montserrat the video features Sting performing versions of both 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', accompanied by Dominic Miller, Ray Cooper, Dave Hartley, Ian Thomas and Chris Lawrence. The latter three all played with Sting on the 'Leaving Las Vegas' soundtrack and this was a rare live outing for them with Sting. The version of Magic is notable as it is performed with the full choir. The video also features Sting on vocals during an all-star version of 'Money For Nothing', with Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton and Phil Collins, and Sting reappears on versions of 'Hey Jude' and the encore, 'Kansas City'. Sadly, the video omits Sting's performance of 'Fields Of Gold', but the video version of this release was accompanied by an exclusive CD release featuring tracks by Phil Collins, Mark Knopfler and Paul McCartney.

Review from: Mojo by Neil Spencer

If you missed out on Live Aid, here was your chance to catch up. An uncharitable thought for a charity show in aid of beleaguered Montserrat but inevitable when confronted by an Albert Hall fervent with delight at the announcement of... Midge Ure! And when Midge and his keyboards player unleash the straining vocals and cheesy synth chords of, gulp, "Vienna", one is plunged straight back to the dull heart of the '80s. What with Midge and Phil and Sting aboard, and Mark Knopfler twanging on about microwave ovens, the RAH fairly reeks of that grim decade, especially since many of the £60 plus tickets have been snapped up by city chaps who still wear their striped shirts with pride. Bolly in the corporate entertainment box! Hey, rock and roll!

The night's key figure is Sir George Martin, whose Montserrat studio played host to most of the starry ensemble here before its mixing desk vanished under several inches of volcanic ash. As ever the dapper Spitfire pilot, George brings charm and warmth to the proceedings with his keynote introductions, along with a whacking great orchestra and a 40-piece gospel choir.

Knightly charm aside, the first half of the show is a battle against drooping eyelids, despite the best attempts of Montserratian soca star Arrow to get everyone feeling "Hot Hot Hot". There's Midge there's Carl Perkins in his hairpiece, satin suit and blue suede rat-stabbers banging out "Matchbox" and "Blue Suede Shoes". There's, um, Jimmy Buffet playing his first British gig, with some awful cod reggae song about the island's volcano, and, unbilled, there's - screams, audience arises in ecstasy - Phil Collins. "I'm afraid it's that bloody song again," says Phil blokishly as he sits at the grand piano. What, precisely, is coming in the air tonight remains, as ever, unanswered.

The post-interval big guns follow Phil's example, delivering an acoustic old fave before jamming with the back-up band on a couple more. Knopfler and his Gibson noodle elegantly before boogying through "Money For Nothing" supported by Eric Clapton (Fender) and Sting (asthma inhaler). Sting delivers a lovely cameo version of "Message In A Bottle", almost dissolving it in jazzy dischords, and Elton John, the whiff of Abbey incense still clinging to him, hammers out "Your Song" and arches that eyebrow through "Live Like Horses", whose equine symbolism quickly gallops into absurdity. Clapton picks daintily through "Layla" with Knopfler at his side before wading deep and dark into electric blues.

Finally Paul McCartney bounds on, impossibly boyish at 55, to strum through "Yesterday" and lead a full-orchestra and choir version of "Golden Slumbers", in which he even switches from piano to guitar to blast out those famous power chords. As Sir George waves in thunderous cellos and clashing cymbals, Clapton and Knopfler widdly diddle, Collins slams skins, Elton plonks solemnly and Sting just looks cool singing back-up. Suddenly it becomes clear that this is everyone's dream moment - they're in The Beatles, however briefly. Afterwards the rest of us get to join too, na-na-na-ing away on "Hey Jude."

Better than All Around The World, better than Live Aid.