News Column

Sting's singer next door ; CELEBSPOT

November 17, 2013


GEORDIE rock star Sting is to tour with legendary singersongwriter Paul Simon - and has revealed they used to be neighbours in an exclusive neighbourhood in New York.

The Wallsend-born musician, who is finishing preparations for a Broadway musical of songs from his Last Ship album, will be touring 18 cities in America and Canada with Simon in February and March next year, cementing a musical partnership that started at a benefit gig earlier this year but which is based on a longer friendship.

The music legends will be singing separately with their own bands but also plan to perform together on the tour.

As the unlikely link-up was announced this week, Sting told how he used to live in the building as Paul Simon on Manhattan's exclusive Upper West Side. He joked: "For 20 years, this guy would be borrowing things all the time. Then I heard he was a songwriter."

To which Simon responded: "As soon as he got a chance, he moved up, hierarchically, into more elite buildings."

"Paul and I both share this abiding curiosity about music and where it's going," Sting said. "We don't really know where this is going. We don't really have a clue how this is going to pan out."

Audiences got an early taste of the potential collaboration when the two singers appeared together in May at a benefit for the Robin Hood Foundation, where they performed acoustic versions of the Simon and Garfunkel tune The Boxer and Sting's Fields of Gold.

"After we finished it," Simon said. "we both looked at each other and said: 'Wow. That's pretty interesting.' " Sting is currently preparing for the stage version of The Last Ship, a musical based on his own memories of growing up in Wallsend, which will star Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Spender star Jimmy Nail.

The production tells the story of a man who returns home to find his town's future in jeopardy when its crucial shipyard is threatened with closure. The singer recently released an album of songs from the musical, also titled The Last Ship. The show will open on Broadway at the back end of next year, with previews before that in Chicago.

He could perhaps get guidance in those preparations from Paul Simon, who wrote a musical called The Capeman in the late 1990s.

The show closed early after poor reviews but later won a number of awards and has since been revived for a number of performances away from Broadway.

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