I put off buying this DVD for the longest time, mostly because I was so disappointed by Sting's previous Brand New Day Tour DVD. I've mostly enjoyed Sting's work, beginning with the landmark Police debut Outlandos d'Amour, and throughout most of his solo career, although he is beginning to lose me after those last few mediocre albums. I last saw Sting in concert during the height of his solo career on the Ten Summoner's Tales tour, and still yearn for that long-lost video from one of those great shows. As a Sting fan, I knew I would eventually have to pick up this DVD, but my curiosity peaked after discovering its ill-fated timing with the terrorist attack of 9/11.
Much like the excellent Bring On The Night video, All This Time begins with a documentary that follows the band as they come together at an exotic locale to rehearse for a concert that would culminate in the video. In early September 2001, Sting invited several gifted musicians to his beautiful Italian villa in the Tuscany hills to come together as a band, create new arrangements for many of his most beloved songs, and then rehearse them all for a concert that would take place less than two weeks later. This is all captured in a wonderfully intimate documentary that shows the musicians getting to know each other, doing a little partying, and jamming to some great music.
I could spend a few paragraphs describing the documentary portion of this DVD, but I will focus on the concert portion instead. The documentary concludes on September 11th, 2001, the day the concert was scheduled, and the day nearly 3,000 people lost their lives during the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. The documentary captures Sting and the band as the events of 9/11 unfold before them, and they agonize over whether they can still carry on with the show.
By that afternoon, they do decide to go on with the show, but realize it cannot go on as originally planned. "What was to be a joyous occasion simply can't be," said Sting, just before the band decided on which songs no longer seemed appropriate after the day's events. The most obvious omission was the Arabic-inspired "Desert Rose", which features the vocals of Algerian singer Cheb Mami. This song was joyfully performed during the previous night's dress rehearsal but was dropped from the concert.