When it comes to The Police, I feel like I kinda’ got the shaft. After the release of Synchronicity, the band set out on a grand tour of the world, sold something like eight million copies of the album, and then disbanded. Like millions of kids my age, I never had the opportunity to catch a live performance, hence my feelings of shaftedness. But, I never lost faith that they would get back together, tour, and then I could forgive them for leaving me in the lurch for all these years. Remember folks, it’s all about me.
Fast forward to the present and the news of a Police reunion tour. Yippee! I can finally cross something off that daunting list of things I need to get done before I die. GASP! Have you seen these ticket prices? No matter, I have things I can sell . . . like organs (life sustaining, not musical.)
As is to be expected from a reunion tour, the set list was like listening to a deluxe edition of a greatest hits package. “Message in a Bottle,” “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” “Walking On The Moon,” “Roxanne,” and I could go on. It was like a childhood dream come true, with one glaring exception. This performance wasn’t so much a rock performance as it was a heavy jazz performance. Here I was expecting Sting and the boys to be running and jumping all over the place, getting the crowd all riled up and moving. You know, a rock concert! It was during a slow, jazzed out rendition of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,” that I finally came to the realization. These guys have gotta’ be staring at sixty. I’ve since found out Sting and Stewart Copeland are in their mid-fifties, while Andy Summers is sixty-five! Now it makes all the sense in the world why the songs had to be rearranged . . . and, let me tell ya’, the rearrangements worked out perfectly!
My first conscious exposure to The Police was with “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” and quite honestly, the song didn’t do anything for me. I cringed every time that it was piped over the airwaves. My feelings towards the song have warmed over the years, to the point where I’ve been able to tolerate it. Though, after witnessing their performance of the tune, “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” has quite possibly usurped “So Lonely,” as my favorite Police track. Amazing performances from all three members of the band. Stings vocals were especially vibrant, and the emotion he conveyed through the lyrics just bowled me over. Andy plucked and strummed his way to my heart. Stewart raced between his drum kit and a wall of percussion instruments, keeping impeccable time through the physical exercise. All of this melded together to create an experience rather than just another performance of a song.
I was pleased with how well the band controlled the flow of energy, as the mood of the show went from mellow to rockin’ several times throughout the hour and a half set. “Can’t Stand Losing You” had the crowd flipping out. Up tempo and energetic, the tune has always been a crowd pleaser, and this night was no different. Almost twenty thousand forty-somethings exploded with a cheer when the boys kicked into the beat. I, for one, sang until my throat went raw. My hands became numb from clapping with the beat. Shoulder joints ached from my arms flailing this way and that. I almost threw out a hip from the spastic gyrations I like to call dancing. And, I’m sure I wasn’t alone.
As we rolled into the encore, The Police kicked into a fabulous rendition of “Roxanne,” and I was pleasantly surprised to hear Sting belt this one out like he did in the old days. The band lifted the crowd to the stratosphere with a rocked out version of “So Lonely,” and then eased us back to terra firma with “Every Breath you Take.” Finally, they closed the set and sent the sell out crowd home with a rousing rendition of “Next To You.”
All in all, it was a very satisfying show and much more than I expected. Their music has always been a bit more heady than that of their peers, but they still brought enough of the rock vibe to give them street cred. In hindsight, it seems very logical that the band would rework their tunes to have more of a jazzed out feel. They may be getting up there in age, but this is one of those cases where the years of experience translates into better execution and performance. The Police are three jazz musicians who decided to play rock music, not the other way around. Immensly talented, they’ve shown that their music transcends the industry trends and the songs remain significant some thirty years later. Best concert that I’ve ever been to? No, but it will go down as one of my more satisfying experiences and well worth the wait. - Pope JTE
Buy Live Police here: Live