05.28.2007 - 2007-05-28 VANCOUVER: GM Place / Police kick off reunion tour...
Police kick off reunion tour...
And they said it wouldn't happen.
The reunion tour that no one ever thought was going to materialize finally did on Monday night as '80s New Wave kingpins The Police opened their 30th anniversary trek with a sold-out show at GM Place in front of some 20,000 ecstatic fans.
Singer-bassist Sting, 55, the lone holdout all these years - 23 to be exact since The Police last toured for their last studio album, 'Synchronicity' - seemed genuinely happy to be on stage again with his former bandmates - drummer Stewart Copeland, 54, and guitarist Andy Summers, 64 - who have patiently been waiting for him to return to the fold while he enjoyed a hugely successful solo career.
For God's sake, the trio of two Brits and one American even hugged each other in front of the cheering crowd after performing a two-hour, hit-heavy set from their seven year career (1977-1884) that saw them sell a staggering 50 million albums while infighting broke out towards the end.
"Tonight is our first official concert in 25 years, we chose Vancouver, 'cause you're Vancouver, alright?" said Sting, who had been rehearsing with Copeland and Summers most recently in a log house on the Squamish Indian reserve in North Vancouver. "I like this city very much."
Still, anyone expecting the fierce punk-tinged reggae rock of The Police at their prime when they split up in 1984, instead got a jazzier, more mellow version of the acclaimed trio of accomplished musicians.
Many songs got some serious retooling and not always for the better: 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', 'Truth Hits Everybody', and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' were among the disappointments.
Still, The Police's show, a comparitively stripped down affair compared to the huge productions put on by the likes of The Rolling Stones and U2, opened strongly with 'Message In A Bottle', 'Synchronicity II', 'Spirits In The Material World' and the combo of 'Voices In My Head'/'When The World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around'.
But there was a serious lull in the middle portion of the show with plenty of slow songs or ballads - 'Driven To Tears', 'Walking On The Moon', 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', 'The Bed's Too Bit Without You', and 'Murder By Numbers'.
At a press conference earlier this year to announce their reunion tour, Sting insisted it would be just "three guys on stage, that's all. Simple but spectacular."
Well, he was mostly right.
Their in-the-round stage saw the trio playing in a pit with steps up to a semi-circular catwalk behind them so they could play to audience members behind them whenever the mood struck.
There was also small steps up to ramps on either side of the stage which Sting used to the delight of the crowd.
It has to be said that Sting looked and sounded outstanding with his brilliant blue eyes offset by a nice tan, chiselled arms and a tight-fitting sleeveless white shirt and narrow black pants along with black combat boots.
Whenever he performed a scissor-kick at the end of song or stood on Copeland's drum riser and wigged his bum, the reaction from fans was palatable.
But other than genuinely slick lighting and a video scrim, on to which footage of a moving dinosaur skeleton was projected during 'Walking In Your Footsteps', it was a surprisingly simple affair.
Musically, the most interesting choices came from Copeland, who looked like a mad scientist behind his enormous drum kit with white gloves, glasses and a head band.
He often alternated with a second set of percussion instruments that were placed on a riser above his drum kit, including a gong that he struck to kick off the entire evening.
By the final third of the show, such highlights as 'Invisible Sun', during which warn-torn video of Iraq was shown, 'I Can't Stand Losing You', 'Roxanne', 'King Of Pain', 'So Lonely', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Next To You', saw that old Police magic return.
Opening Monday night was Fiction Plane, a rock trio fronted by Sting's 31 year old Joe Sumner whose upper register sounds uncannily like that of his father's. (Also seen in the audience was Sting's second wife, Trudie Styler and L.A Law alum Corbin Bernsen.)
Fiction Plane's 45-minute set was perfectly serviceable but hardly exceptional and given the circumstances, they can hardly be blamed for being a little overwhelmed.
With the passage of time, they are sure to become more relaxed, and hopefully, the headliners will pick up a little more steam in that troublesome middle section or just change the songs outright.
The Police return to the same Vancouver venue for a second show Wednesday night before heading to Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday where some tickets are available - a rarity on the otherwise mostly sold out tour. The trio don't arrive in Toronto until July 22-23 for shows at the Air Canada Centre followed by Montreal's Bell Centre on July 25-26 before a return to the ACC on Nov. 8.
© The Winnipeg Sun by Jane Stevenson
Photo by Dave & Wendy