Review By Shelah Moody
Photos by Lee Abel Photography
What happens when the Bob Marley of pop music meets the Barack Obama of reggae? A night of pure music, mayhem, madness and meaningful music.
On Oct. 26, Live Nation presented Sting and Shaggy’s acclaimed 44/876 concert, a show, rescheduled from Oct. 8, at Masonic auditorium in San Francisco. What the two icons have in common, aside from the fact that they are two rich, sexy MF’s over 40, is their ability to transcend multiple genres including reggae, rock, hip hop, soul, jazz and blues.
In true reggae fashion, 44/876 began a half hour late and by the time Sting and Shaggy took the stage, the venue was already lit with ganja smoke, giving this writer a contact high. Damn legalization! To my surprise, the two Grammy winning artists did not do individual sets but performed their greatest hits together on the stage throughout the entire show. Their mashup of “Roxanne” and “Mr. Boombastic” may soon become a karaoke classic. Backed by two guitars, a drummer, keyboardist and two backing vocalists, Sting and Shaggy performed most of the tracks from 44/876 the album and English/Jamaican versions of their respective hits: “Englishman in New York,” “Angel” “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” and “It Wasn’t Me,” Shaggy”s hip thrusts and baritone raps perfectly complimenting Sting’s guitar strutting and mellifluous tenor. I’m glad Sting recovered from the illness that caused him to cancel a few 44/876 shows so we could experience his true vocal prowess and mastery of the blues aesthetic.
During the 44/876 track “Dreaming in the USA”, there was a kumbaya moment in the show when Shaggy encouraged the audience to stand and sway as he preached diversity, inclusion and spoke about the unifying power of music and love. I wondered if Shaggy could see that 98 percent of the audience was white. (Perhaps most of the cool people of color in the city were attending Drake’s Halloween/birthday bash at City Hall). If the world goes to hell, at least we can take consolation in the fact that there was one perfect Sting and Shaggy concert on the night of a vibrant autumn moon in San Francisco.