Brand New Day
Tunis, TNEl Menzah Olympic Stadium
With Cheb Mami

Tunis concert by Sting, Cheb Mami draws 18,000...

Some 18,000 fans turned out on Saturday night for a concert by British rock star Sting and Algeria's prince of rai Cheb Mami in Tunis' El-Menzah stadium.

Fans flocked in not only from around Tunisia but also from Algeria, France, Italy and Spain for the concert, part of whose proceeds will be donated to a Tunisian charity that fights poverty.

Spectators, some of whom had arrived several hours early, were thrilled over the blend of two such different cultures.

''Two types of music - one oriental, one western - came together to breathe new life into a global form of music,'' one fan told AFP. ''Each of them added something extra to the music,'' another said.

The mega-concert got off to a slow start, however. The public tired of the warm-up act - a young Tunisian singer accompanied by a dance troupe - and yelled for the stars to get on stage.

Some had been waiting since 4:00 pm for a concert billed to start at 7:30 pm. It eventually kicked off an hour and a half late, by which time the fans had left their seats and were massing on the football pitch in front of the stage.

Their enthusiasm returned when Sting appeared, wearing a sleeveless black T-shirt and brown trousers. The crowd went wild, shouting and clapping and waving candles.

Sting started with several solos, including 'If You Love Someone, Set Them Free', and was then joined by Mami for their joint hit 'Desert Rose'. Mami then performed 'Meli Meli' solo.

The event went half an hour into overtime, lasting two hours, culminating in a fireworks display against a grey Tunis sky.

Sting's appearance in Tunis was part of a Middle Eastern tour which began with two concerts in Dubai on April 19 and 20 and a performance at the Egyptian pyramids last Wednesday.

Sting told a press conference in Tunis on Thursday that he planned to go to Lebanon in July.

Mami leaves Tunis for Monaco, where Prince Albert is due to present him with a world music award for most CD sales and a prize for best Arab singer of the year.

(c) Tunisia Online