Brand New Day

Amman, JO
Al Ahlia University Arenawith Cheb Mami
Sting takes Amman's 'breath away'...

Sting was welcomed by a warm and enthusiastic crowd of 5,000 spectators Sunday in one of Jordan's first ever concerts of an internationally acclaimed artist. The well-organized show brought smiles all round, as fans sang their hearts out and jumped up onto their seats swaying their arms and phosphorous lights in the air.

Even the bouncers were caught up in the excitement and could be seen dancing and singing along with the music. Sting, who donned his trademark black vest and combat trousers, started the performance almost immediately after walking up on stage after promptly replying to his own greeting with ''Salamu alaikum'' and ''alaikum assalam!''

However, the crowd wholeheartedly cheered his attempt on and got straight into the show. An equally enthusiastic welcome was given to Cheb Mami when he came on stage for 'Desert Rose'.

While singing a majority of songs from his Sting days, the British rock star also performed a few well-loved classics from The Police era. The supporting band included internationally renowned drummer Manu Katche who rapped along in French.

The well-tempered crowd surprised Sting when they burst out in song to nearly all the lyrics getting him even more worked up than them. At one point the audience failed to recognize a song and Sting encouraged, ''If you sing I'll come back again'' creating an unstoppable crowd.

The concert, organized by iJordan and Buzz Productions, was sponsored by Fastlink who greeted the audience at the start of the show in their own way by showering them with small silver papers that cascaded from above. Jordanians were truly given a concert to remember as every effort was made to ensure the same professionalism was shown in this concert as any other. The event was held at Amman University's Arena.

Proceeds of the event will go toward the Palestinian children injured in the current Intifada against Israeli occupation. The charity event was made possible with the support of the 'Promise' Welfare Society set up by Princess Alia. Sting is an advocate for human rights' issues. He added prior to the event that he would love to play in the occupied Palestinian territories one day when peace is restored in the region.

Sting will follow in the footsteps of great artists such as Pink Floyd and Jean Michel Jarre and perform at the Pyramids on Wednesday. Sting will be back in the region for the famous Baalbeck Festival 2001 which he will open on July 13 in Lebanon.

(c) website by Sarah Alalul

Sting plays to standing-room only crowd in first Amman concert...

If music is the ''language of the world'' British rock idol Sting on Sunday proved his fluency in it. An energetic rendition of 'If You Love Somebody Set Them Free' opened the show at the Amman University Arena and brought 5,000 fans to their feet for the duration of the two-hour show. They rarely missed a lyric in an unspoken sing-along as the singer-songwriter belted out smash hit after smash hit.

After a warm ''Salam Aleikum, Jordan'' the Grammy Award-winner followed up the opener with ''a song about your part of the world'' - 'Mad About You' - that drew a deafening applause from an audience that was varied in age and as it was nationality... and profession.

In addition to the Jordanian and expatriate crowd, star-gazers also would have spied several members of the Royal family, including Their Royal Highnesses Princess Muna, Princess Alia Al Hussein, Prince Faisal, Princess Alia Al Faisal, Princess Rahmeh, Prince Ali, Prince Talal and Princess Ghida; several ministers and officials, Sweden's Princess Victoria, and dozens from the diplomatic crowd, including US Ambassador William Burns.

Sting, on a regional tour that has taken him to Dubai and will take him on Wednesday to the pyramids in Egypt for a rare concert there, was playing Jordan for the first time - and hopefully not the last. Fans will also be able to find him in July at the Baalbek Festival in Lebanon. All are part of the musician's 'Brand New Day' tour.

After 20 years in the entertainment business, the rock master's unique and distinct voice still progresses smoothly from dynamic numbers such as Police hit 'Every Breath You Take to more delicate and subtle numbers such as Fragile (from Nothing Like the Sun) and Fields of Gold (Ten Summoners' Tales).

The audience's enthusiasm reached its peak with Sting solo hits like An Englishman in New York' and Police classics such as 'Message in a Bottle'. And, probably like Sting's concerts everywhere, fans were not content to let him exit stage without a performance of the bawdy 'Roxanne' - complete with flashing red lights, naturally.

Another key highlight was Cheb Mami's powerful contribution to the more recent hit, 'Desert Rose', which drew a roar from the audience so loud as to almost drown out the music.

Ahead of the concert, Sting said that he and the Algerian rai singer hooked up after he felt the track 'missed some ethnic element.' ''So I asked him if he could write some Arabic lyrics to this melody without telling him what the song is about, because he doesn't speak much English. He came back a week later and sang it and it was beautiful,'' the singer recounted. ''I asked him what he was singing about and he said 'about belonging.' That's what I am singing about in English, so it was a nice coincidence. It's been an enormous hit everywhere in the world which is very nice. It is an interesting fact that the song in English and Arabic - maybe the first duet between a Western singer and an Arab singer - was a hit in Israel. Even though, he quipped, it ''did nothing for the peace process.''

Music, he said, ''is a common language we all share... with an Aboriginal person from Australia or with an Arab or someone from Ireland. It's something we all understand.''

Known to be a strong advocate for peace and environment, several of Sting songs tackle such issues. 'They Dance Alone' (Nothing Like the Sun), is a direct gesture of protest against torture of political prisoners, for example.

Sunday's concert was organised by the Promise Welfare Society to aid victims of the Palestinian Intifada and to support the society's scholarship programme.

Ahead of the conference, Sting said he ''would love'' to visit Palestine and the occupied territories.

''But not for the time being. The whole situation is very sad there and I'd rather wait till some peace is restored,'' he said. ''But while in Jordan, I hope to find the time to visit Petra and know Jordan a little more. Perhaps learn more about Arabic music.''

He added that he had ''great appreciation and respect'' for Arab culture and the Arab world's ''contributions to my own culture historically in astronomy, science, mathematics, writing, guitar - it all comes from Arabia.''

Sting, who won a Grammy Award earlier this month for Best Male Vocal Performance for the song 'She Walks This Earth', is a jazz fan and a connoisseur of the genre. He has surrounded himself with jazz greats such as saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who has often played with him, and Brazilian jazz legend Antonio Carlos Jobim who played with Sting a few years ago. Jazz influence can clearly be heard in the musical arrangements and harmonies of Sting's compositions.

At Sunday's concert, he was accompanied by world-renowned drummer Manu Katche, who also rapped out lines of French during 'Perfect Love... Gone Wrong' (Brand New Day).

As brilliant on bass guitar - his main instrument - as on the six-string, Sting sings and plays as naturally as he breathes. His music often is made of wide intervals of notes that are rather difficult to sing and that have become one of his trademarks.

The former Police frontman and his six-man act took the audience through the gamut of two decades of Sting/Police hits, and indulged diehard fans with lesser known songs, such as 'Moon over Bourbon Street' (The Dream of the Blue Turtles) and 'Seven Days' (Ten Summoners Tales).

To sum up, if you feel like you missed out on Sunday's event, you certainly did. But there is hope that you may have a second chance in the future.

The entertainer said that ''depending on the success of the concert and if people want me to come back, obviously, I will.''

(c) The Jordan Times by Jean-Claude Elias