05.28.2007 - 2007-05-28 VANCOUVER: GM Place / The Police bury the hatchet, starting in Vancouver...
The Police bury the hatchet, starting in Vancouver...
Nearly a quarter-century has passed since the Police sang their last official note. Hope, or perhaps boredom, has now brought them back together. And when the legendary eighties trio kicked off their world reunion tour in Vancouver on Monday night, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were clearly castaways no more.
The sold-out crowd at General Motors Place - more than 20,000 ecstatic fans strong - screamed their appreciation as the band dove into 'Message in a Bottle' to start off a two-hour concert that breathed new life into a largely rearranged hit list.
The band didn't write any new material for the 100-date tour, but anyone who was expecting the furious punk-flamed reggae rock of the Police in their prime was in for a sedate surprise. Many of the songs were retooled with a mellower, jazzier, tropical-island vibe.
A melodic version of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' received one of the most dramatic rearrangements, capped by Copeland racing back and forth between twinkly chimes, xylophone and drums on his elaborate raised percussion platform.
Sting gave 'Walking On the Moon' a slow hypnotic bass line. Summers reggaed up the guitar for a slinky, nearly unrecognizable 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', then let loose in a smashing solo during a medley of 'Voices in My Head'/'When The World Is Running Down'.
'Walking In Your Footsteps' started off slow, then flipped hard and fast, after Copeland stepped out from behind the drum set to run across the stage, screaming like a maniac.
"Stewart, stay!" Sting joked, much to the crowd's delight.
'Truth Hits Everybody', 'Spirits in the Material World' and 'Driven to Tears' could have used some of that same speed.
"This is our first official concert in 25 years," Sting announced, although it seemed hardly necessary, considering how many devoted fans, having travelled from and wide, shelled out 5 for the best seats in the house.
"We chose Vancouver because you're Vancouver, alright?" the lead singer said, as if that were self-explanatory.
"I like this city very much," he added.
The Police have been rehearsing in Vancouver on and off since January, when the first rumours of a reunion tour began to surface. The band, which sold a staggering 50 million albums during a seven-year career, parted ways in 1984, after the last date of its 'Synchronicity' world tour.
The infamous feuds that fuelled the break-up have obviously been set aside. The band seemed genuinely happy to be onstage together and shared many laughs with the audience. 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', for instance, took on new meaning when Sting introduced the song by spraying breath mint in his mouth and sniffed his armpit.
Sting, now 55, was divinely slithery - in a sexy Sanskrit serpent, Kundalini yoga kind of way - with his rippling biceps, piercing blue eyes and wiggling hips. Copeland, 54, was the "sporty" cop in a retro headband, cycling shirt and golf gloves. He gave the crashing performance of his career. Summers, 64, was as low-key as ever. Dressed in pressed slacks and a silk shirt, he almost looked like a stockbroker who had thrown off his tie to kick out the jams.
The show was a relatively stripped down affair - "just three guys and a stage," as Sting had promised at a press conference earlier this year.
There was no proscenium or backdrop on the split-level oval floor. The special effects were mostly limited to the raised platform and flashing lights. Later on, during 'Roxanne', the entire stadium was bathed in a red glow. And for 'Invisible Sun', a video suddenly appeared on the six jumbo screens above the stage, playing clips of war-torn Iraq and people drinking from muddy pools. A subtle reference, perhaps, to WaterAid, the official tour charity.
By the end of the night, that old familiar Police magic was back in full force. 'King of Pain', 'So Lonely' and 'Every Breath You Take' rounded out the first encore. Urged on by thunderous applause, the band returned to end the concert with driving rock version of 'Next to You' and a boisterous round of hugs for each other.
The boys had better hang on to that love. They've still got about 99 concerts and six continents to go.
© The Globe & Mail by Alexandra Gill
Photo by Dave & Wendy