Over the last 15 years, Sting and his wife Trudie Styler have hosted a bi-annual charity concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall to celebrate the Rainforest Foundation Fund, which the two founded in 1989 to preserve rainforests and its inhabitants around the world. Last night’s show featured many familiar faces, including James Taylor and Billy Joel, who’ve performed at the concert many times. But this year’s spectacular gala also featured some welcome surprise guests, including Joel’s daughter (Alexa Ray), Taylor’s kids (Ben and Sally), Sting’s daughter (Coco Sumner), Clarence Clemons, singer-songwriter Feist and Brian Wilson.
The first portion of the evening was surprisingly relaxed given the elegant environment of Carnegie Hall. Sting, Taylor, Joel and all their children — including a barefoot Ben Taylor — joined together for a faithful cover of the Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!”The evening featured many casual family duets: Joel and Alexa turned out a cabaret-influenced version of “Baby Grand” while the Taylors teamed up for the meditative ballad “You Can Close Your Eyes.” Coco Sumner, however, showed off her immense, smoky voice with a sultry performance of her own tune called “Bohemian Love.” Other highlights of the first set included Feist — backed by a 34-piece orchestra — nailing a perfect version of her hit song â€œ1234â€ as well as a set-closing Mardi Gras-style performance of “˜When the Saints Go Marching In,” which concluded with all the participants parading through the aisles.
Things heated up for the second portion of the concert. While the crew set up the stage for Brian Wilson, Sting and Dustin Hoffman filled in by performing a Hoffman-penned ballad called “Shoot the Breeze.” The show really took off for the Beach Boys mastermind’s excellent performance: Wilson — dressed casually in a cool blue-and-white-striped rugby shirt and jeans — performed serotonin-inducing classics like “God Only Knows,” “Help Me Rhonda” and “Do You Wanna Dance,” which featured some crazy psychedelic light shows. “Good Vibrations,” which featured the entire night’s all-star lineup, capped the set.
So what did the performers think of the event? “It was very emotional,” Sting told Rolling Stone after the show.”Coco was amazing. Alexa and the Taylors were fantastic. It’s evolution at work. And they’re better than we are.”