06.06.2007 - 2007-06-06 SEATTLE, WA: KeyArena / The Police still has more to say...
The Police still has more to say...
The Police opened the U.S. leg of its long-anticipated reunion tour with the bang of a gong and a parade of hit songs at KeyArena. Concertgoers responded with handclaps, singalongs and whoops of approval.
Singer and bassist Sting, looking thin and fit and sporting short-cropped, bleach-blond hair, led the famous group - featuring guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland - in a high-powered two-hour show featuring such era-defining songs as 'Message in a Bottle', 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', 'Walking on the Moon' and 'Every Breath You Take'.
Some songs featured new, more jazz-oriented arrangements, particularly an extended version of 'Roxanne'. The band has traded the raw punk of its early career for a more improvisational approach, making the show less of a nostalgia concert than a celebration of the group's creative triumphs.
Until the tour started last weekend at GM Place in Vancouver, B.C., the reggae-influenced rock trio hadn't played publicly since its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. The tour is the group's first since the 'Synchronicity' tour of the 1980s, when The Police were among the biggest rock bands in the world. The current tour is expected to be among the top-grossing of the year.
In Seattle, the good vibes and celebratory nature of the opening shows in Vancouver were still evident in the band's spirited performance, as well as fans' excited reaction to seeing their longtime heroes back on stage. Concertgoers often sang along to favorite songs they hadn't heard live in more than two decades.
The band's performance was tighter and more focused than the tour's opening night May 28 in Vancouver. On his personal Web site, Copeland blasted a second Vancouver show May 30, calling it "lame."
Sting, playing a scuffed and seasoned electric bass and wearing a tattered white tank top, smiled broadly for much of show and looked happy to be back on stage with his former bandmates. Summers looked far more serious, while Copeland was positively intense.
An oval stage featured a raised platform at the rear, three overhead LED screens, two side screens, banks of floodlights and dozens of spotlights on long shafts.
Among the most colorful songs in the set were a crimson-splashed "Roxanne" and a rainbow-colored "Next to You," the final song of the show.
A reggae-flavored version of 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' turned into an extended jam. During 'Walking in Your Footsteps', video images of a dinosaur skeleton were shown on a large scrim behind the stage.
Sting got a laugh when he introduced his fellow band members to each other: "Andy," he said, "meet Stewart." The tension of the 1980s 'Synchronicity' tour is just a bad memory.
Sting got another laugh when he introduced 'Murder by Numbers' as a song the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart had once cited as having been written by the devil. This was "in 1983 I must have been 15," Sting said.
There were dark moments in the show as well. During 'Invisible Sun', which includes a line about "killing everybody in the human race," overhead screens displayed videos of the devastation in Iraq.
Every available seat, as well as all the private suites, were filled for the historic reunion show. Merchandise counters did a brisk business selling official tour apparel, with shirts priced as high as each.
Opening act was rock band Fiction Plane, featuring Sting's son, Joe Sumner. Many concertgoers skipped the opening set and didn't miss much. Sumner is an excellent singer and guitarist, showing signs of his father's influence, but his songs aren't memorable.
A second Seattle show is Thursday night at KeyArena.
Depending on how well the reunion tour does at the box office - so far, so good - and how well Sting, Summers and Copeland get along over the next few months, another concert trek could follow. Summers has said the group might record a new album when the current tour ends, providing a launch point for a fully rejuvenated career.
© The Seattle Post Intelligencer by Gene Stout