08.07.2008 - 2008-08-07 NEW YORK: Madison Square Garden / Police Rock New York With Farewell Concert, Sting Gets Shaved...
Police Rock New York With Farewell Concert, Sting Gets Shaved...
The Police kicked off their farewell concert in New York's Madison Square Garden last night with a nod to another iconic rock trio, Cream, throwing down an intense cover of 'Sunshine of Your Love'.
Then they got down to business.
With the New York City Police Department Band onstage for backup, banks of lights descended, Sting put a cop cap on his head and the Police flew 'Message in a Bottle' into high gear, accompanied word for word by the delirious fans.
That was hello.
Sting announced: "We are the Police.''
More delirium followed.
It was a night of ecstatic call and response, as Sting yodeled the arcs of sound that punctuate so many Police songs, thrown immediately back at him by the crowd, starting with, once the NYPDers departed, 'Walking on the Moon'.
Columns capped with blue spotlights rose up, circling the back of the oval stage, lending a bit of a mini-Coliseum look to the platform, open all round as tickets were sold to every seat in this fundraiser for public television.
Video monitors helped those in the nosebleed sections. Sting took what might have been a victory walk around the stage's perimeter, at this, the final show of the band's Reunion tour and the band's promised farewell from live performing.
Sting, 56, still mainly blond of hair but gray of beard, vegan of diet and yoga trim, was in top form and fine voice. Stewart Copeland, also 56, looked prepped for the marathon of percussion ahead of him, sweatband under a mop of hair, bespectacled and white gloved; Andy Summers, 65, sported an extra chin but held his own and then some, on guitar.
And they were just getting warmed up. More calling out to the audience followed as Sting was clearly relishing every moment.
'When the World Is Running Down' came next, then Sting thanked his band mates for their musicianship, their companionship and 'your patience with me.''
He told the audience they had played 150 gigs, before 3.7 million people, on this Reunion Tour (which brought in USD350 million) "and tonight you represent all those people,'' he added, "so thank you.''
At this ending moment for the Police, Sting took a moment to reminisce about his pre-rock star life.
"I was a school teacher in a convent, with a pension plan and I thought 'What the [expletive] am I doing?''' That tidbit turned out to be a segue into the 'Lolita''-inspired 'Don't Stand So Close to Me',' as lights flooded the stage a deep metallic red.
'Driven to Tears', 'Invisible Sun' and 'Every Little Things She Does Is Magic' - were among the Police standards they performed.
"If I was to say 'Yeah!' to you,'' Sting called out, "What would you say?''
"Yeah!'' they responded, of course. Again he asked, to a louder reply. The third time they sent an even higher vocal blast of 'Yeah!'' back to him as he roared gutturally into 'Hole in My Life', a song from the first Police album 30 years ago that lost none of its deep, driving beat as the lyrics rose and fell.
Then came a quick cut to 'Can't Stand Losing You', during which Sting shouted, "OK, New York, this is the last time we are going to do this,'' and the audience joined in to end the song with a deafening roar.
The show over, Sting left the stage and the audience watched on video as a pair of blondes in little black dresses proceeded to shave the now shirtless star's beard off, first electric razors, then shaving cream and blades.
Meanwhile, Summers returned to stage and started slamming chords on his guitar as a summons to the other two. Sting was getting his nails done. Another guitar summons, then another and finally Sting was back on, still shirtless, now with a guitar slung around his shoulders.
They laid down Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze' and then turned to 'Roxanne', soaring through six encores that ended with 'Next to You'.
The B-52's opened the show in tighter form than their Halloween Roseland appearance last year. Hits - 'Love Shack', 'Rock Lobster' and 'Give Me Back My Man' among them - all got a great reception, as did their new songs.
© Bloomberg by Michael Killeen