07.03.2007 - 2007-07-02 ST. PAUL, MN: Xcel Center / Police don't offer arresting performance...
Police don't offer arresting performance...
It took all of three songs to figure out what was wrong with Tuesday night's Police reunion gig at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Too much Sting, not enough bite.
Midway through 'Walking On The Moon', the world's most famous tantric sex practitioner launched into a languid bass solo and slowly strolled the perimeter of the oval stage, waving at the hundreds of folks perched in the typically curtained-off seats behind the drum kit. (Those extra sales helped boost Tuesday's attendance up past 17,500.)
It was a nice gesture to those folks so eager to experience the trio's first tour in more than two decades they were willing to watch the back of the band's heads all night.
But it also was the first of far too many excursions into instrumental noodling that put a damper on what could have, and should have, been a dynamite show.
Twenty-odd performances into a world tour that runs through next year, bassist/vocalist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland appear to have figured out a way to tame their famously turbulent relationship, at least enough to make it through a two-hour show.
While there were few overt signs of affection between the three, a tanned and trim Sting sported a bemused grin and Summers played with effortless elegance, even if his well-heeled and slightly dazed visage made it look like the guy drove his yacht to the gig.
Copeland, meanwhile, was the true star of the show with his still-dazzling skills on the sticks proving a delight to both hear and see. (Although judging by the stink faces he was pulling, Copeland was pretty obviously peeved at Sting during 'Roxanne'.)
But in attempt to keep Sting and company - but, you know, mostly Sting - from getting bored, the trio not only indulged in plenty of jammy interludes, they altered the arrangements of some of their best-known songs in the process.
Which was fine when it worked, but on songs like 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' the tempo and key changes were so jarring, it sounded like an error, not an innovation.
And for all these reworked numbers, the guys were sometimes shockingly sloppy, with Sting in particular blowing intros and dropping lyrics. I'm still not quite sure if the almost unbearable tension on display during 'Every Breath You Take' was a masterful stab at ramping up the atmosphere or if the trio just couldn't get the train back on the tracks.
In the end, it was that almost-but-not-quite feeling that plagued the show.
Just when it seemed like the band was turning a corner, they would take another detour.
Given that ticket prices creeped into the hundreds of dollars a pop, the Police could have tried a little harder to hit that critical, sustained level of energy the crowd so clearly craved.
© The Pioneer-Press by Ross Raihala