Brand New Day

Dubai, AE
Aviation Club Tennis Stadiumwith Cheb Mami
Sting makes best of world around...

Sting's much awaited visit to the UAE finally got off the ground on Thursday evening to a rapturous reception from fans at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. The 'Brand New Day' tour concert, sold out for both the Thursday and Friday shows, was brought to the UAE by CSM Entertainment, thrilling disappointed fans who had been let down last year by another set of promoters.

On stage with Sting was the Rai King, Cheb Mami, who has sung the hit single 'Desert Rose' with Sting on the 'Brand New Day' album. Sharing an obvious rapport, Sting and Mami, (who is no stranger to the UAE), literally set the stage alight with faux flames and a virtuoso performance. In what was obviously a well-choreographed act, Sting and his talented band of musicians belted out hit after hit, many from their 'Brand New Day' album, but also perennial favourites like 'Every Breath You Take', which had the crowd screaming for more.

Sting started off with no preliminaries whatsoever, launching straight into the song 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', and getting old and young grooving to the beat. Clad in army fatigues and a skin-tight black t-shirt displaying his well-toned abs, the rocker who once fronted the Police and is enjoying a successful revival of his musical career, couldn't seem to get enough of the crowd's adulation.

Often breaking away from the rest of the musicians right to the edge of the stage with a few intoxicating guitar riffs while blowing kisses at the crowd, he waved to those seated in the gallery to show them they were not left out.

The crowd returned the compliment with ear-splitting cheers, whistles and clapping. Besides playing audience favourites from his current album such as the title track, 'Brand New Day', and a number of other song which gave him an opportunity to his skills at music composition and his superb handling of the guitar with a number of jazzed up medleys, Sting also played hits from his heyday with the Police such as 'Roxanne, 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'.

Songs like 'When the world is running down you make the best of what's still around', where Sting jammed impromptu with his keyboardists, set the stadium rocking and seemed to go down better than slower numbers like 'Moon over Bourbon Street'. Women were specially appreciative of his romantic numbers and crowded to the edge of the stage, almost threatening to pull him offstage. Sting was careful to give credit to all his talented musicians, and the drummer and trumpeter received specially loud accolades from the audience.

Sting, who repeated his success with another high-octane performance last evening, performing non-stop for more than 90 minutes, was so much in demand that he had to come back three times on stage for an encore, the final time alone, as the audience seemed unable to let him go.

He said little during his performance except the usual Hello Dubai, ''Selam Aleikum and Shukran'', confident that his music would speak louder than words but promised at the end, ''I have never been to Dubai before but may come back''.

(c) The Khaleej Times

Sting's hits revive memories of a bygone music era...

Thousands travelled from various parts of the UAE to the Dubai Aviation Club to watch former Police lead singer at the inaugural concert of his Middle East and North Africa 'Brand New Day' tour on Thursday night. At the packed tennis stadium of the Aviation Club, Sting had the crowd on its feet clapping in rhythm and singing along.

The two hour-set, with an equal number of encores, was filled with groovy Rai music, witty bossa novas, warm-hearted Bach revisions, smart lyrics and big tunes, with a smashing finale.

Sting launched the show with one of his earliest hits to storm the British and U.S. charts, 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free', to loud cheers of ''Bring It On'' from 7,500 people who had all gathered to listen to music that they had grown up with.

''This is music from my teens and brings back so many memories,'' said Sarah McAfee, 39, a mother of two. ''It's like a glimpse into the past,'' added her friend, Alexandria Oatees, 41, who had driven down from Abu Dhabi for the concert.

''He appeals to all ages, because his work is about good music. And he's constantly experimenting, which is very cool,'' said 19-year-old Lenny Roberts, a student. The 'Brand New Day' tour will see Sting perform later in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.

Born Gordon Sumner in 1951, Sting's solo career began in 1982, two years before the break-up of the Police, for whom he was lead singer and bass player. While continuing to tour and record with the Police, he also co-wrote and appeared on the Dire Straits hit, 'Money For Nothing', and sang harmonies on Phil Collins' 'No Jacket Required'.

By 1985, however, the other members of the Police were pursuing solo interests, and Sting formed a touring band, the Blue Turtles. The group recorded his first solo album at Eddy Grant's studio in Jamaica, 'Dream Of The Blue Turtles', which found him developing the more cerebral lyrics found on the final Police album, 'Synchronicity'. It also brought him three big hits, including 'Fortress Around Your Heart' and 'Russians'.

This was followed by a wide range of work that included the legendary 'They Dance Alone', Sting's tribute to the victims of repression in Argentina, Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! international tour participation and campaigning on behalf of environmental causes, especially highlighting the plight of the Indians of the Brazilian rainforest.

He set up his own label, Pangaea, in the late 1980s to release material by jazz and avant garde artists. He also had a series of commercial hits during that period, which included 'An Englishman In New York', 'All This Time', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', 'Fields Of Gold', 'All For Love', 'When We Dance' and 'This Cowboy Song', almost all of which were played by Sting at the concert to an enthusiastic wave-riding response from the crowds.

But the number that really had Dubai on its feet was 'Desert Rose' with Cheb Mami, that provided definitive harmonic pleasure to all attending the event. Dance-floor moves, loud screaming, swaying hair, girls atop shoulders and ambitious imitators were the order of the night, as West and East blended and the twain met to create beautiful music.

Some of the other singles performed included 'Message In A Bottle', 'Every Breath You Take', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Perfect Love', 'Fragile', 'Seven Days', 'All This Time', 'After The Rain', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You', and 'Roxanne'. Sting gave a second concert last night at the same venue, again to a packed house.

The concerts were sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, Jaguar, Gulf News, British Airways, Aqua, J.W. Marriott, Renaissance Hotel, Coca Cola, Dubai Aviation Club, CNN, Showtime, Dubai FM, Umm Al Quwain FM and 106.2 Hum FM.

It was a night that promises to be memorable for both those who attended the concert and Sting himself, for he was positively warmed by their enthusiasm, enough to promise ''I've been never here before, I've been everywhere else. But I'll be coming back.''

(c) Gulf News by Anupa Prathap Mathew