Sting and Shaggy Bring Brit-Jamaican Collab to the Bay...
When I first heard that Sting and Shaggy were coming to town, my initial reaction was “Shaggy’s opening for Sting?” It seemed like an odd pairing since their music is so different and the two really weren’t part of the same musical movements when they were coming up. Then shortly later when I learned that they’d be performing together as a duo I just didn’t get it.
The pair that was supposed to play two weeks ago at the Masonic had to cancel because Sting had gotten ill and was advised by his doctor to stay put. But last night he looked in tip-top shape and performed a brilliant setlist comprised mostly of Sting and The Police classics with one or two Shaggy songs peppered in there to make it feel like this was a truly a collaborative effort. But let’s face it, most of the audience was there for Sting, at least last night it was pretty evident.
Shaggy mainly played the role of sidekick hypeman during the two-hour-plus set, much in the same way someone like Little John or Pitbull would alongside a posse of rappers. It worked at times, while at others it felt a little out of place. A few interesting moments in the show included an unexpected transition from “Roxanne” to the Shaggy mega-hit “Boombastic,” as well as a cute kitschy theater bit that served as an intro to “Dreaming in the U.S.A.” This eventually led up to the most heartwarming point of the show as Shaggy orchestrated a heartfelt chant of unison, peace, and acceptance amongst the multicultural folks in attendance.
But all this begs the question, how did this collaboration come about? During an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Sting explained. “He just walked onstage during Roxanne,” said Sting. “I thought it was Sean Paul,” he joked. This inspired them to get together and realized in the process that their voices worked very well together.
Although their voices did indeed work well together, especially on the more reggae-heavy Sting/Police songs, the addition of Shaggy sometimes fell flat. And while overall the show was a good time and lots of fun, for any die-hard Sting fans like myself, you just couldn’t help but hope that the sideman would step aside even for just a song or two. In the end though, this was a small price to pay for a chance to see rock royalty in the flesh in an intimate venue of this size.
(c) Music in SF by Louis Raphael