2018 has been a weird year for music. So weird, in fact, that a collaborative album between Sting, the legendary frontman of The Police, and Shaggy (seriously, who saw this coming?) flew basically under the radar. The duo released an album earlier this year called 44/876, the respective calling-codes of both the UK & Jamaica where they both hail from. The album received generally favorable reviews from critiques but only got up to #40 on Billboards Hot 200 chart.
Even weirder than the initial album, which might not be so weird if you consider they are both famous musicians currently residing in New York, is the fact that they decided to take this show on the road. That decision brought them to Minneapolis on Sunday night, for a performance at The Armory, which certainly didn’t struggle finding room for the size of the crowd that attended.
With tickets still available at the door, the crowd was shuffled through a very strange security setup to accommodate the large sections of seating located on the floor of the venue. Scheduled to start at 8:00 PM, the show didn’t officially get underway until roughly 8:20 PM to accommodate the large sections of people who were unable to show up and make their way through security on time.
As the lights throughout the venue went down, and the lights on the stage came up, scattered cheers and applause echoed throughout the room, officially erupting as Sting strolled out on stage, bass guitar in one hand, waving to the crowd with the other. Shaggy followed soon behind, and after exchanging a few pleasantries, the band launched into the first of many solo Sting songs with his 1987 track “Englishman In New York.”
Immediately, it was clear how one-sided this duo actually was. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see Sting perform live (last night was my first) it is almost shocking how incredibly talented that man is. His voice is just as pure as it was in the 1980’s, and he sounds impeccable in a live setting. His ability to command a crowd is second to none, and his ability to add new flavors to old songs, creating something that feels both familiar but new at the same time is truly special to watch.
On the other hand, Shaggy was simply….. Shaggy. I had never had the opportunity to see him perform live before last night either but had reasonable expectations of what to expect. He lived up to those expectations, in the most average and least exciting way one could possibly imagine. And judging by the setlist that was performed, it appears that everyone on stage knows it just as much as we do.
Twelve of the twenty-five songs performed were written and performed by Sting, either in his solo career or with The Police, leaving Shaggy to do nothing more than sprinkle in some “uh-huh’s” and “yeah’s” during the performances. The embarrassment continued when the two performed the song “Crooked Tree” from their album 44/876, featuring Shaggy wearing a white curly wig and black judge’s gown standing across a black-and-white-striped, jail-bound Sting.
As the show started to wind down, the duo performed a medley of legendary The Police song “Roxanne” and Shaggy’s most acclaimed hit, “Boombastic,” which, admittedly, was fairly well done. As the two wrapped up, they briefly left the stage, returning again to perform another 20-minutes of songs, capped off with another solo Sting song, “Fragile.”
As the crowds began funneling out onto the streets, I couldn’t help but to feel underwhelmed by what I just saw. Then, someone walking next to me, who seemed to have kicked back a few too many $9 beers, exclaimed: “That Sting show was fucking awesome!” and I couldn’t have put it any better myself.
All in all, it was a wonderfully awkward combination of artists I quite literally never would have guessed I would be able to see perform together. There are far worse ways I have spent Sunday nights in my life, and certainly cannot complain about being able to see a living legend perform right in front of me.