07.11.2007 - 2007-07-11 TAMPA, FL: St. Petersburg Times Forum / Police Reunion Worth The Wait...
Police Reunion Worth The Wait...
"Welcome to the Stewart Copeland show!" Sting sang near the end of Wednesday's show by the Police at the sold-out St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
That improvised line, tucked into the encore version of 'So Lonely', also was a fitting tribute to the band member that contributed the most distinctive touch to the spirited and musically precise performance. Without Copeland's beat, either subtle or manic, the band's DNA just wouldn't be the same.
In a trio, of course, the impact of each element is crucial. Fortunately, the chemistry between Sting, Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers was nicely balanced in a well-paced set that ran roughly two hours.
Starting with 'Message in a Bottle', the band focused on the hits, occasionally flirting with a tempo change or other nuance, but often remaining faithful to the originals.
They sounded good and looked pretty good, too. Sting appeared particularly fit, bouncing around and prowling the stage in a tight-fitting black T-shirt and matching pants. Summers, in a dark suit, was a diminutive physical presence, but asserted himself skillfully in guitar solos that were flashy but never self-indulgent.
The band played on a stage that was attractive without becoming a distraction. An oval design, it featured a circular runway around the back, a low staircase, banks of moving spotlights as well as some video screens and colorful flashing lights suspended high above the musicians.
Without fireworks or self-important videos about the group's history, the reunited band was able to approach its music without over-doing the nostalgia. Songs such as the textured 'Synchronicity II', offered in the early going, were strong enough to stand alone.
"Are you ready to sing?" Sting asked the crowd. "Well, let's go!" Unfortunately, the atmospheric 'Walking on the Moon', didn't seem like the best choice for a sing-along.
There were other opportunities: 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' still has a catchy hook in there somewhere, even if the band approaches it now with understated energy that dilutes its power. Where's the explosive urgency of the chorus?
Much better was 'Driven to Tears', which segued from its driving syncopation into a climax that churned like a locomotive. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' also was elevated by Copeland's polyrhythmic pounding into an exuberant celebration. No problem singing along to that.
On the other end of the spectrum, Copeland turned 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' into a gorgeous mood piece. His expressive touch on glockenspiel, timpani and an array of exotic percussion toys showed that the band could be tender as well as tough.
After dipping into the moodier stuff, the Police finished with a bang, including 'Can't Stand Losing You', the obligatory 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take'.
For a reunion a long time coming, it was worth the wait.
© The Orlando Sentinel by Jim Abbott