07.31.2007 - 2007-07-31 HARTFORD, CT: Rentschler Field / The Police Fire Off The Hits...
The Police Fire Off The Hits...
They shared a stage, but the three members of the Police didn't always look like they were playing together Tuesday night at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
That's not to say the trio didn't rock - it did, through 20 of the band's catchiest songs and biggest hits. But the seminal group, reunited for its first large-scale tour since 1983, sometimes seemed more like three musicians playing individual parts than one band playing its songs.
It's a subtle distinction, though, and it didn't matter to most of the 30,000 people cheering and singing along to songs that still sounded vital 25-plus years later as they poured from giant banks of speakers.
The show was brisk and professional, and the band has been on the road long enough this summer to regain the incredible musical chemistry that was such an important part of the Police in its first incarnation. The songs, starting with opener 'Message in a Bottle' and continuing all the way through the final encore, 'Next to You,' sounded tight but relaxed, and with room for variations.
Yet it took a little while for the three to really lock into a groove, and it didn't always happen on the most obvious tunes: guitarist Andy Summer's solo five songs in on 'When the World is Running Down' when Sting wandered over to lean in and watch, for example, or the way the two seemed to catch the wave of drummer Stewart Copeland's complicated rhythm on 'Driven to Tears'.
The Police hit their stride in the middle of the set, blazing through 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' as Sting toyed with the vocal meter, and reveling in the sultry seduction of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', when Copeland switched from his full drum kit to an array of cymbals and percussion set up behind him.
Summers played full, chiming chords on 'Walking on the Moon,' and though Copeland's drumming was less frenetic than when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, he kept busy with complex fills.
Sting's voice has held up well over the years, and he sang with detached longing on 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and hit just the right note of wry self-absorption on 'Can't Stand Losing You'.
The stage was large, but fairly simple, with big video screens on either side that showed the musicians most of the time, splashes of red, yellow and blue on 'Synchronicity II' and images of poverty and hardship in what looked like refugee camps on 'Invisible Sun' later in the show.
The band ended its regular set with 'Roxanne', the stadium bathed in red lights as Sting pined for the song's namesake prostitute. The first encore featured the slow-building gem 'King of Pain,' the loose reggae jam 'So Lonely' and the biggest sing-along of the night: 'Every Breath You Take.'
The band returned for a second encore, 'Next to You', to finish the night as the crowd drifted away, packed, as Sting predicted earlier on 'Synchronicity II', into shiny metal boxes for the drive home.
© Hartford Courant by Eric R. Danton