I have been a big fan of Sting for a long time. It started with his days in The Police and continued as Sting embarked on a solo career. I’ve been lucky enough to see him live multiple times – both with The Police and as a solo artist. I even saw him a few years ago when he toured with Peter Gabriel.
I follow Sting on social media, so when he posted a picture of himself on a motorcycle in Jamaica a while back, it piqued my interest. As many of you know, I’ve been to Jamaica many times. It’s my home away from home. So, why was Sting there?
My question was quickly answered when Sting announced that he was collaborating with reggae superstar Shaggy on a new album. I love reggae music, so news of this collaboration was really exciting for me. I remember saying to my husband – “Please let there be a Sting & Shaggy tour to support this album!”
Well, my wish came true and after months of waiting, I got the chance to see Sting & Shaggy live, in one of my favorite venues in Philadelphia.
So, was the show everything I hoped for? Were they only going to play music from the new album and skip The Police and Sting classics? And, how was this Sting & Shaggy collaboration going to sound live? Keep reading to find out!
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The Fillmore is one of my favorite music venues in Philadelphia. The size of the room is perfect. Even if you stand all the way in the back, you are still close enough to have a great view.
The acoustics in the room are fantastic. The bathrooms are spacious and clean (always a plus!). Parking near the venue is easy and inexpensive. Plus, the venue is located in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, which has lots of restaurants and bars to choose from for your pre-show or post-show food and drinks.
The “original” Fillmore opened in San Francisco in 1965. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, that version of the Fillmore was the focal point of the psychedelic music scene. It helped launch the careers of bands like The Grateful Dead, Santana, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors.
The Philadelphia version of The Fillmore opened in the fall of 2015 in a 125-year-old metal building. The AJAX building was converted into a 25,000-square foot facility, that is really three venues in one.
The main room holds 2,500 people. It has a large main stage, along with a large bar on each side of the room, a large bar in the back, and a balcony.
The Foundry is located on the second floor and holds up to 450 people. It has a small stage, a large bar, and several comfortable seating areas around the perimeter.
Finally, as you enter the facility you will be in what is called Ajax Hall. This is a lounge area where you can get food and drinks before the show. There is usually a DJ playing music there both before and after shows.
Tip #1: The Fillmore is located in the up and coming Fishtown neighborhood. There are plenty of food options for grabbing a bite before the show. A couple blocks away from the venue, you will find Frankford Hall, which serves German food and beer, and Fette Sau, which serves barbecue. If you want something a little less pricey, grab a burger at Johnny Brenda’s. Right next to the venue you will find Goose Island and Mad Rex.
Tip #2: Parking near The Fillmore is easy. There are two lots located near the venue. The cost to park is typically $10-15. If your timing is good and you don’t mind walking a little further, you can typically find parking on Frankford Avenue or the surrounding neighborhood streets. Most of it is free, but be sure to read the signs to make sure you aren’t parked illegally. Also, be aware that the trolley comes down Frankford Avenue. I’ve seen people that haven’t parked close enough to the curb and the trolley can’t get through. They will have your car towed if you are blocking the trolley route.
Tip #3: You might be tempted to park for free at the Sugar House Casino, which is just across Delaware Avenue. Unless you plan to go into the casino first, I would not recommend parking there. The lot is for casino patrons only. Security watches the lot and will have your car towed if you park and walk straight over to the venue.
Tip #4: Because the venue is so small, there really isn’t a bad spot in the room. I usually hang out in the back next to the sound board. That keeps me out of the crowd. From there, I also have good access to the bar and the bathrooms. And if you’re lucky, you may just snag a set list!
STING & SHAGGY
ABOUT THE ARTIST – STING
Sting! He’s one of the most famous (and one of the original) members of the “one name artist” club. Born as Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner in 1951, he gained his initial fame as the lead singer and bassist of The Police and launched his solo career in 1986.
Sting is one of the world’s best-selling music artists. Between his solo work and his time with The Police, he has sold over 100 million (yes, million) records. While The Police started as a punk band and turned into one of the most successful rock bands of the 1980’s, as a solo artist, Sting has explored almost every genre of music including jazz, reggae, classical, new-age, worldbeat and now reggae.
Sting was born in Wallsend, Northumberland, England. His mother was a hairdresser and his father was a milkman. He grew up near the shipyards, which were a big influence on his life. At age 10, he became obsessed with an old Spanish guitar that one of his father’s friends left. That started his life-long love of music.
Before making music his career, Sting held several jobs including being a bus conductor, a building laborer, a tax officer, and eventually a teacher. Sting would perform jazz in the evenings and on weekends. When he played, he typically wore a black and yellow striped sweater, which is what led to the bandleader of the Phoenix Jazzmen – Gordon Solomon – to dub him with the nickname Sting. According to Sting, the name isn’t just a stage name either. He has said in interviews that everyone calls him Sting including his wife and children.
Sting’s career has been so long and so varied, I could write pages just about him. In addition to having huge success as a musician with both The Police and as a solo artist, Sting has also had a successful acting career, appearing in both movies and on television. Sting even wrote the music and lyrics for “The Last Ship”, which spent time on Broadway.
Sting’s latest endeavor, and the basis of this tour, is a collaboration with reggae star Shaggy. If you are familiar with any music from The Police, it’s not surprising that reggae music is something Sting would explore. On April 20th of this year, Sting and Shaggy released their first album as a duo called 44/876. The name of the album is based on the international dialing country code for the UK (Sting’s home) and Jamaica (Shaggy’s home).
ABOUT THE ARTIST – SHAGGY
Our second one-name artist of the night is Shaggy. Born Orville Richard Burrell in Kingston, Jamaica, Shaggy first started singing in 1987 when he took singing lessons and started singing in the streets.
Shaggy enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1988. After serving, he decided to pursue his music career full-time and had his first hit in 1993 with the song “Oh Carolina”. That song was followed up with his massive hit – “Boombastic” – in 1995, as well as singing on the Maxi Priest hit “That Girl” in 1996.
Shaggy released the album Hot Shot in 2000. The album was a huge hit in the U.S. and included the songs “It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel”.
While Shaggy has continued to release albums, none have reached the level of commercial success that Hot Shot reached.
THE PERFORMANCE – STING & SHAGGY
There was no opening act scheduled, which meant we were going to get a full night of just Sting & Shaggy. With a scheduled 8:00 p.m. starting time, they took the stage at about 8:20 p.m.
The show kicked off with the Sting classic “Englishman in New York”. After Sting sang the first verse, he turned the vocals over to Shaggy, who added his own lyrics – “I’m a Jamaican in New York”. Sting & Shaggy then went into the title track from their “44/876” album.
The show was set up to be a true collaboration between Sting and Shaggy. The set list was made up of a combination of songs from Sting, The Police and Shaggy, as well as songs from Sting & Shaggy’s album. The two artists also shared singing duties – Sting sang on some Shaggy songs, and Shaggy sang on Sting songs.
In my opinion, while this was a collaboration, Sting was the star of the show from a music perspective. Sting’s voice is still as strong as it was in his younger days. He played guitar on almost every song as well. Shaggy spent less time singing and more time being the “entertainer”. He was the one that encouraged the crowd to get involved in the songs. It was a good balance. As talented as Sting is, he’s never been the most dynamic front man. Shaggy took on that role, which allowed Sting to focus on the music.
In addition to playing their individual songs, there were a few really great mash-ups. Sting’s “Walking on the Moon” was paired up with the Bob Marley classic “Get Up, Stand Up”, and The Police classic “Roxanne” was done as a mash-up with Shaggy’s hit “Boombastic”.
The encore kicked off with a fantastic version of Sting’s “Desert Rose” followed by Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me”, which was a ton of fun with Sting and Shaggy pairing up and taking turns singing the verses. The show wrapped up with The Police’s mega-hit “Every Breath You Take” and Sting’s solo hit “Fragile”. While those songs ended the show on a slow note, I think it again featured that Sting and his vocals were the stars of the show.
There were a ton of cameras in the room, including a camera that boomed out over the crowd throughout the show on our side of the room. While the camera tended to get in the way of my view and was pretty annoying during the show, I’m anxious to see if the show gets turned into some sort of video.
Sting and Shaggy have been touring all over the world together in support of their album. The tour started in mid-June in Europe. They have only played a handful of dates so far in North America, so you have plenty of chances to catch them between now and the end of October, before they wrap the tour up in November back in Europe. You can find more information about future tour dates on Sting’s website at www.sting.com.
Set List (click on any link to buy the song directly on Amazon): Englishman In New York (Sting cover), 44/876, Morning Is Coming, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (The Police cover), Oh Carolina (Shaggy cover)/We’ll Be Together (Sting cover), If You Can’t Find Love, Love Is The Seventh Wave (Sting cover), To Love And Be Loved, Message In A Bottle (The Police cover), Fields of Gold (Sting cover), Waiting For The Break Of Day, Gotta Get Back My Baby, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (Sting cover), Don’t Make Me Wait, Angel (Shaggy cover), Dreaming In The U.S.A., Crooked Tree, Shape Of My Heart (Sting cover), Walking On The Moon (Sting cover)/Get Up, Stand Up (Bob Marley cover), So Lonely (The Police cover)/Strength Of A Woman (Shaggy cover), Habibi Love (I Need Your Love) (Shaggy cover), Roxanne (The Police cover)/Boombastic (Shaggy cover) Encore: Desert Rose (Sting cover), It Wasn’t Me (Shaggy cover), Every Breath You Take (The Police cover), Fragile (Sting cover)
Are you a Sting or Shaggy fan? What do you think about their collaboration? Let us know by commenting below or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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