Daily’s Place Amphitheater in Jacksonville, FL was packed for a second time the week of September 14th. Two days before Judas Priest and Deep Purple performed on their stage. And this night Sting and Shaggy were bringing their 44/867 Tour there. Sting has collaborated with multiple artists in his career, but this is probably the most unexpected pairing. Sting, the multi-Grammy Award winner lead singer of The Police and solo artist, and Shaggy the Grammy Award-winning reggae artist and former U.S. Marine found commonality in their love for the Caribbean, which led them to produce ’44/876′. The album titled for the UK’s country phone code (Sting’s birthplace) and Jamacia’s country phone code (Shaggy’s birthplace) provides a beautiful blend of both artist’s musical styles and talents. And that coupling was going on tour through North America after their European tour over the summer. Though Miami was supposed to be the first tour date on September 15th, Jacksonville, FL was fortunate to have their city added as a tour stop and being the first on this leg of the tour.
With no opening band that evening, Sting and Shaggy didn’t waste any time getting the crowd excited as they took the stage. They opened up the evening with one of my favorite songs from Sting’s solo career “Englishman in New York” from the album ‘…Nothing Like The Sun’. What started off as the expected song from Sting took an interesting turn of reggae infusion when Shaggy performed lyrics from the song. It was an odd blend to me and wasn’t fully sure if it worked. They followed up with “44/876” the title track from the new album and then with “Morning is Coming” also from the new album. These songs sounded more in line to the coupling Sting and Shaggy were presented to the crowd, especially since they were written by both artists.
As the evening continued, Sting and Shaggy performed songs from The Police including “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Message In a Bottle”. I admit these re-mixes sounded odd to me and though Sting, primarily playing bass and singing from behind the microphone, and Shaggy, who danced, grooved, and sang all over the stage that night, provided wonderful vocal performances, these were just too classic of songs to be re-done in that fashion. Though, when they performed a mash-up of “Oh Carolina” by Shaggy and “We’ll Be Together” by Sting, everything clicked and fell into place. A great musical and vocal combination that you’d never expect and couldn’t help but love. The same occurred when they performed “Love Is The Seventh Wave” from Sting’s “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”. The song already had a Caribbean musical influence and with Shaggy’s addition, it made it a great remix.
The show contained more serious moments with Sting performing “Fields of Gold” from ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’, keeping the song mostly intact as written. And then had very humorous moments as Shaggy at one point essentially chased Sting from the middle of the stage to the left side as Shaggy gyrated his hips at him the whole way. Sting pointed at the crowd and then to Shaggy as if to say “Did you see that?” There was a very odd moment during the set where Sting was shoved by a security guard to sit down that made people gasp in shock, but only to realize it was part of the act, when Sting put on a prisoner black and white striped shirt and Shaggy was wearing a judge’s robe and barrister’s wig as they performed “Crooked Tree” from ’44/876′. Shaggy had the opportunity to take lead on vocals for his singles with “Angel” from his album ‘Hot Shot’ and “Habibi (I Need Your Love)” was released as a single.
As they neared the end of their set, Sting and Shaggy had some surprisingly great mash-ups with “Walking on the Moon” and “Get Up, Stand Up”, “So Lonely” and “Strength”, and closing with “Roxanne” and “Boombastic”. As they said goodnight and walked off stage, some of the crowd started to leave, but I knew they couldn’t be done. They did come back out to perform an encore starting it with an amazing rendition of “Desert Rose” from Sting’s ‘Brand New Day’. They followed with Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” from his ‘Hot Shot’ album. Sting and Shaggy performed an extended edition of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police which truly won over the crowd. And then closed with Sting’s emotionally charged “Fragile” from “…Nothing Like The Sun”.
Overall this was a very entertaining performance from both Sting and Shaggy. I enjoyed Shaggy’s energetic and active performance and getting the crowd engaged. Sting’s vocals were better than I expected and he looked pleased smiling the whole night through. And though I don’t some of The Police and Sting songs they re-mixed worked well the ones that did were superb and fun to hear. The 44/876 Tour is a unique experience that’s worth attending for any Sting and Shaggy fan. I’m glad I did.