Hometown hero Sting makes his eagerly anticipated return to Tyneside along with current collaborator Shaggy.

Now on paper, this may seem like somewhat of an odd couple, and it’s certainly raised its fair share of eyebrows. However, despite what their critics have come to say, tonight the dynamic duo make their naysayers eat a slice of humble pie in Newcastle.

What you’ve got to remember is that The Police were very much influenced by Reggae, and so that sound is deeply rooted in both their back catalogue and their musical heritage. Although Sting and his new wave outfit may not have embraced that sound as wholeheartedly as his current Jamaican co-conspirator, it’s not too distantly removed from the latter’s Reggae fusion and dancehall flavours.

It goes without saying that Sting is one of Tyneside’s most successful exports since Newcastle Brown Ale. Having graced the stages of the world’s greatest stadia, won a treasure trove of countless accolades that includes 17 Grammy Awards and record sales that total in excess of 100 million units, his talent is unquestionable.

This evening’s show in Newcastle is one of the most intimate live concerts Sting has performed in the region in recent times. Subsequently, a packed out crowd awaits Sting and Mr Boombastic himself Shaggy at the O2 Academy Newcastle.

Armed with an arsenal of hits between them, this evening’s show is very much a representation of the pair’s musical past, present and future. Of course, Sting and Shaggy’s creative partnership came together via their recent Grammy Award-winning album 44/876, and as such their set centres on the release with as many as nine tracks from the record featuring. This includes the likes of the dancehall-tinged “To Love and To Be Loved”, “Waiting For The Break of Day” which truly illustrates Shaggy’s lyrical prowess along with the excellent title track itself. The latter of which was inspired by the international dialling codes of each artist and seems like the perfect numerical representation of these two gifted musicians.

Throughout the course of the show, there is great stage chemistry between Sting and Shaggy who bounce off each other frequently and wholeheartedly participate in one another’s compositions. However, when Sting is asked to play only bass on Shaggy’s latest single “You” to make way for Toronto based vocalist Alexander Stewart, he jokes it’s like getting divorced but being asked to play at the Wedding. A quick and witty retort that certainly give the crowd a giggle.

The show is rich in Sting’s greatest hits. This includes the likes of “Englishman In New York”, “Message In A Bottle”, “Walking On The Moon” and a spellbinding airing of “If You Love Someone Set Them Free” featuring Newcastle’s Voices of Virtue Gospel Choir. Each of these tracks certainly receives some hometown love from the locals. This evening Sting’s voice sounds incredible and has aged just like a fine wine.

Likewise, some of Shaggy’s more popular numbers such as “Angel”, “Hey Sexy Lady” and the unmistakable “Boombastic” fit nicely into the setlist. The latter of which is featured as part of an unexpected mashup with The Police’s timeless classic “Roxanne” and closes out the main set.

A double encore that features the likes of “Can’t Stand Losing You”, a majestic airing of “Desert Rose”, Shaggy’s classic “It Wasn’t Me” and the simply timeless “Every Breath You Take” closes the show out to great effect.

This evening’s show from Sting and Shaggy features the perfect representation of contemporary pop, rock and reggae music from two of the biggest names in the business. Many of these tracks have become part of the soundtrack to our everyday lives having been broadcast frequently on radio, MTV, and Top of the Pops. Subsequently, as a result, these unmistakable numbers have been interwoven into the fabric of our very consciousness. To hear them performed live and on home turf, in such intimate surroundings is nothing short of breath-taking.

Sting
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Event Date: 22-May-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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