Rainforest Benefit 1994...
The band came on stage at the start of the show, Sting last, wearing a black tuxedo and red high top canvas sneakers. He sang 'Nice Work If You Can Get It' - then introduced Elton John who gave us 'Smile, What's The Use Of Crying?' In the band was Elton John on piano, Larry Adler (harmonica), Branford Marsalis (saxophone) and Nina Simone (percussion) - with others on bass and drums.
Next we had James Taylor on guitar and vocals performing 'Paper Moon' - during which Sting and Elton John sat at the back singing along while Branford played sax. Sting had performed this song at the Mercury Music Awards so it was familiar to us Sting fans.
After that song Sting welcomed everyone to "This modest bash" and introduced his band. He went on to sing 'How Sensitive' - a nice song enhanced by Branford's expertise. James Taylor followed on guitar with a flautist accompanying him. He sang 'Oh What A Beautiful Morning' before Elton returned to the piano to perform 'Someone To Watch Over Me' which was another song familiar to us.
Elton introduced Aaron Neville who sang 'Louisiana' and then James Taylor introduced Tammy Wynette and they sang a duet: 'I Hear Singing And There's No-one There'. Tammy looked thin and rather ill but she sang very well.
On came Sting who said: "There's one great thing about this show - it's full of surprises: "Let me introduce Miss Whitney Houston!" When the tremendous applause died down she explained, "Mr & Mrs Sting asked me to do this..." and sang the Stevie Wonder song 'Magic EverlaSting.' It was pretty good, a right belter in fact: She was wearing the highest skirt I had ever seen and seemed to have trouble walking in it.
When she exited Sting said: "OK, I'm glad I don't have to follow that - but I have just the man who can... Luciano Pavarotti!" On came Pav, looking splendid and sang an Italian song. I'm no classics fan but I could appreciate that it was a class act and he received a lot of applause from the sophisticated audience. He followed with a faster PAV track which was excellent and he got a standing ovation.
After the songs and music Sting introduced Larry Cox, executive director of the Rainforest Foundation, who spoke about the Founbdation's work and thanked the sponsors, Revlon.
To end the first half we had another song from Sting: 'It's A Lovely Day Today' with James Taylor on vocals and Larry Adler, harmonica.
For the second part of the show the full orchestra was seated and Sting introduced Larry Adler, our old mate from the Royal Albert Hall. He played harmonica and led the band very well indeed with, I think, 'Rhapsody In Blue'. He told the crowd how he had played at RAH with Sting and how Sting's crowd had loved it. He also mentioned that Sting was now on his (Larry's) own CD. When he had finished he too received a standing ovation.
Then it was James Taylor's turn again and he performed 'Carolina In My Mind'. When he had finished he asked for the audience appreciation for the conductor and then played one of his own numbers with Ray the flute player - powerful stuff. Sting returned to the stage for a song which sounded like: 'If I Loved You' and his voice was excellent.
We then had a number from Branford Marsalis followed by Elton John, in a complete change of clothes, who gave us two more songs before it was time for another offering from James Taylor 'Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight'. It was now time for Tammy Wynette and 'Stand By Your Man' and when it finished Elton joked: "I can relate to this man..."
Elton stayed on stage to play 'Your Song' which, in my opinion was the best track of the night. After that Larry Adler was helped on stage by Sting to add his harmonica to 'Shape Of My Heart' with Elton doing Dominic's vocal part and some backing ... (at last, a Sting song!)
Sting then brought Pavarotti back who sang another belter resulting in a standing ovation. Sting then said: "I don't mind getting on my hands and knees for this song to be sung..." and enter Whitney Houston who said: "If I haven't heard it enough l've certainly sung it enough and performed 'I Will Always Love You.'
Luciano Pavarotti returned to the stage for one last song which I think was 'La Donna e Mobile' - and was joined by the whole company for the grand finale: Sting, Trudie, Elton, Larry, Whitney and Branford, etc. all jamming to give a hilarious end to some serious musical entertainment.
Sting thanked everyone, "...including my wife Trudie Styler who plays a very active part in the Rainforest Foundation..." (She looked absolutely stunning in a long pale gold dress). "Thanks for coming, see you all next year... hope you will come back in 1995."
Too right, I thought. I've starting saving already... Count me in!
(c) Paul Carter for Outlandos/Sting.com
A shower of stars at rain forest benefit...
"I've been on my knees before for a woman," Sting said. "And believe me, I had to get on my hands and knees for Whitney Houston to sing this next song."
With that, Houston unleashed a mind-blowing 'I Will Always Love You' at Carnegie Hall Saturday.
Host Sting took to the venerable stage in tux and red sneakers, with an eclectic group of pals. The roster for the fifth Rainforest Foundation Benefit Concert: Elton John, James Taylor, Tammy Wynette, Luciano Pavarotti, Aaron Neville, Branford Marsalis, harmonica legend Larry Adler, surprise guest Houston.
Wynette and Taylor dueted on Irving Berlin's 'You're Just in Love'.
"It's a realization of a dream... to be onstage with Tammy Wynette!" Taylor said.
Neville sang 'Ave Maria' backed by 100-plus members of the Orchestra of St. Luke's and choir; Sting, John and Taylor traded off at the mike on Berlin's 'It's a Lovely Day'.
What concert-goers will tell their grandkids about: Wynette's rousing 'Stand By Your Man' backed by a full orchestra and Sting's yearning 'If I Loved You' from the musical 'Carousel'.
Spotted in the sold-out crowd: Lauren Hutton, Howard Stern, David Letterman's executive producer, Robert Morton. Said Hutton, wearing a shell from the Huli tribe of New Guinea: "I've been going to rain forests all my life... they are our lungs. Since our government hasn't been able to handle anything, corporations now have to step in." (Revlon sponsored the event).
At a post-concert auction, Vogue editor Anna Wintour bid $10,000 for the Versace "home couture" ensemble, including tableware and a silk leopard-print duvet. The night raised more than $1 million for the Rainforest Foundation.
(c) USA Today by Lea Saslav