08.01.2007 - 2007-08-01 NEW YORK, NY: Madison Square Garden / The Police fresh as ever at MSG...
The Police fresh as ever at MSG...
Before guitarist Andy Summers became a sometime photographer, before drummer Stewart Copeland became a film-score composer and before singer-bassist Gordon "Sting" Sumner became a purveyor of pillowy jazz-pop, they were, collectively, The Police, an edgy, tough-minded rock band and one of the best around. After five ambitious albums they broke up in 1984 as each member yearned to pursue his own path - but on Wednesday night they regrouped, took their places on stage and picked up pretty much exactly where they left off.
Expectations have been high for The Police's 30th anniversary tour (the band formed in 1977) ever since they hinted at a reunion by performing at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for their 2003 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A harsh review of the tour's Vancouver kick-off show in May came from the usual place - a blog - but from a surprising author, Copeland, who called it "a disaster" and "unbelievably lame." Still, that didn't stop the band from adding dates, like the one on Oct. 31 at Madison Square Garden.
On Wednesday, The Police never seemed like a nostalgia act, despite their most recent material dating to 1983. They played on a clean, sleek stage free of rugs, backdrops or props (save for a small, Oriental-style table that held a mug of liquid for Sting). The show began with straightforward versions of 'Message in a Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II', but a spaced-out take on 'Walking on the Moon' signaled a shift in approach, and the band took to stretching and shaping its old material into new forms.
'Voices Inside My Head' gave way to 'When The World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around' a frayed-nerve song that now sounded strangely dreamy. Summers added tough, taut guitar to 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' and 'Driven To Tears', and Copeland briefly stole the show by playing an intricate array of percussion objects (and one giant gong) on the exquisite mood-piece 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'.
Sting, looking fit in combat boots and tight black pants, often ceded the stage to his bandmates, crouching next to Summers during his solos and following Copeland's lead on trickier songs like 'The Bed's Too Big Without You', a simple pop number that turned into a rhythmic brain-teaser.
The crowd added its own production touches on 'Roxanne' and 'King of Pain', filling in the backing vocals that the trio couldn't produce on its own. The show ended with 'Next to You', a lesser-known but somewhat symbolic song: It's the first cut from the band's first album, 'Outlandos d'Amour'.
The opening act, Fiction Plane, led by Joe Sumner, Sting's son, clearly didn't mind the appearance of nepotism. Still, its clamorous, moody rock got a decent rise from the crowd.
© Newsday by Rafer Guzmán