07.31.2008 - 2008-07-31 BOSTON: Comcast Centre / Police bang ends in whimper...
Police bang ends in whimper...
It takes talent to deviate from the script and still land on your feet.
And yet, The Police haven't just deviated; they've been progressively rewriting their script in front of audiences for the past 14 months.
The celebrated Brit trio's reunion tour may be nearing a close, and the set list at their sold-out Comcast Center gig last night barely changed since last summer, but the songs and performance have evolved considerably.
Throughout the 95-minute show, Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland took jazzy liberties galore with tunes that traversed the lines between new wave, punk, reggae and funk. The lack of a keyboard player layering synthetic textures over the band's organic music is a huge contributing factor to its unusual sound, largely built around Sting's sinewy bass and drummer Copeland's polyrhythmic mayhem.
Say what you will about Sting, but in concert, he's on impressive double duty, manning the bottom end with his instrument and creating melody with his sandpapery pipes - it's a tricky maneuver that he pulls off with ease.
The improv began just two songs in, during 'Walking on the Moon', which boiled over into an open-ended jam buoyed by Summers' coiling guitar riffs while Copeland got the upper-body workout of a lifetime.
Sting's vocal delivery continually rearranged the furniture in rooms you thought you knew like the back of your hand: 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Driven To Tears', 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' and a particularly punchy 'Can't Stand Losing You' all took on new character from his relentless modulations.
For 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', Copeland whipped up a rumbling kettle drum, then punctuated with chimes and other percussion.
Six encore tunes was generous, but the choices and their deliveries were the least engaging of the evening: 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'So Lonely' all came across predictably. By that point, however, the band had already unleashed a cavalcade of surprising twists, making a few ho-hum, by-the-book crowd pleasers entirely forgivable.
Elvis Costello's opening set with the Imposters began with a saber-toothed version of 'Stella Hurts', one of several cuts unveiled from his new 'Momofuku' CD. Costello was in superior voice, enabling him to compete with his band's deafeningly raw delivery, which let up during the acoustic, gospel-laced 'Dust'. Steve Neive's trademark carousel organ pumped new personality into 'Every Day I Write the Book', and Sting came out and joined them for a triumphant 'Alison'.
© Boston Herald by Christopher John Treacy