Brand New Day
London, GBRoyal Albert Hall
With Cheb Mami

Sting at the Royal Albert Hall...

It's 4.30pm on 7 April and I'm waiting outside the Albert Hall by the Artists' entrance. It's a lovely sunny spring afternoon, and only two other people are also waiting for Sting here, to try to meet him as he arrives. I'm feeling hopefully happy, and sit on the kerb expectantly. I reckon he should be here about 5 - 5.30-ish. Two hours later I am wondering what on earth is going on. Sting has been recording a TFI show on the other side of London, and I guess he must have got caught in Friday rush hour traffic.

He's very late (It's 6.40, and the support act is on at 7.30), and by now a few more people have gathered. The sun is going down, and it's freezing cold. Suddenly, a lovely car draws up, and yes, it's him. I know that there's little chance now to say hello properly, as I'd hoped for, as there are more people and Sting's very late. A few fans (mostly bigger than me!) crowd round as he climbs out of the car, and I have to hang back. But as he passes through I hold out my ticket, and he does sign it, even though he's in a hurry.

I go and find my seat. Front row, centre! Cheb Mami is doing the support, and he's good, but I'm just hanging off my seat waiting for Sting. Then it's time. He comes on, looking fantastic, and I leap out of my seat and up to the stage. The majority of those around me stay in their seats (boring stick-in-the-muds), but I'm right there, by the stage, Sting just inches away. He opens with 'A Thousand Years', it's a brilliant concert, and I stand, dance and clap all night. I'm practically the only person up there for half the concert, apart from one other woman and a few up-and-downers. Then, when Sting plays 'Every Little Thing' it's a cue for a load of other people to rush up to the stage, 'at last,' I think, 'they're getting more lively.'

Sting does an excellent show, he and his music are perfect (as always), despite this being almost his tenth night in a row at the RAH. All the 'Brand New Day' songs sound wonderful. The older songs have a well-loved yet fresh sound, too. Cheb Mami guests on 'Desert Rose', Chris Botti's trumpeting is in top form, the whole band perform wonderfully, and Sting is superb. Despite Kenny's sad absence, there is a great 'Bring On The Night' instrumental. 'Every Breath', 'Message' and, of course, the beautiful 'Fragile' are the encores.

When encore time comes round I reach out right over onto the stage. Sting has been shaking and touching hands up and down the stage a few times, but I haven't managed to 'get hold' of him yet. He sees me and takes my hand. We look at each other and I say ''Thank you''. He smiles and says ''You're welcome'', and I'm very happy.

At the very end of the show Sting's youngest son Giacomo comes on stage, and seems to enjoy the attention, walking back and forth shaking hands with fans - in the end, his father has to bodily haul him off! What a night... Thank you, Sting. I miss him like mad, now, and look forward to more great times...

(c) Abigail Dowling for