05.28.2007 - 2007-05-28 VANCOUVER: GM Place / The Police kick off tour in Vancouver...
The Police kick off tour in Vancouver...
Sometimes when old mates haven't spent a lot of quality time together in a while - say, a quarter century or so - they don't want to be encumbered by too many distractions.
So when The Police kicked off their first concert tour since the early '80s on Memorial Day, at GM Place, there was no elaborate stage show, no gospel choir, no celebrity guest stars or venerated sessions players jumping on stage to jam with the band. Instead, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers made their reunion a tribute to the muscular but intricate minimalism on which their chemistry was founded.
Granted, that chemistry wasn't always as easy or exuberant as it sounded. It was fitting, in a sense, that The Police would launch their North American trek on a holiday associated with war. A famously fractious outfit in its heyday, the trio combusted after little more than half a decade, during which it produced some of the most accomplished and irresistible pop music of the rock era.
But it was also appropriate that any ego clashes or differences in temperament that likely informed the band's premature demise were nowhere to be seen, or heard, on Monday night. Unlike, say, the Rolling Stones, The Police never affected the air of an eternally adolescent gang; both the camaraderie and the tension between its three members seemed tied to their musical goals and values. And in the end, however distinctive Sting's, Summers' and Copleand's ambitions and contributions, their recordings together were exercises in expert musicianship.
Monday's show was very much in that spirit, with each player supporting and enhancing his colleagues, sometimes subtly, sometimes playfully. Through a set in which they delivered virtually all their old hits - 'Every Breath You Take', 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Roxanne' - the three consistently saluted each other's strengths.
Sting, as the frontman and songwriter - and the Police-man whose instant solo success made the band's split a foregone conclusion - led the proceedings with grace, generosity and humor, introducing Summers as a "legendary" guitarist and Copeland as "the greatest drummer in the world."
Copeland, who has been regaled with similar praise by more than one modern rock musician, certainly showed no sign of being the worse for wear; his playing was as crisply athletic and effortlessly intuitive as ever. And Summers, one of the most undervalued guitarists in rock & roll, buttressed his inspired bursts of ambience with meatier solos.
The Police's live performances were always showcases for their superior virtuosity, with songs taking on different shadings both structurally and stylistically; and this was especially true at this concert, which at times seemed to aim to compensate for a lack of new material by reworking old favorites. During a string of classics in the latter half, including 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' and 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', some numbers may have not been instantly recognizable to casual fans; and there were probably some who lamented the liberties taken.
Judging by audience reaction, though, most of The Police's fans were as happy to have the guys back on their own terms as they were chuffed to be there.
© USA Today by Elysa Gardner
Photo by Dave & Wendy