Reunited Police recast the hits for the worse...
July 03, 2007 

Sting, this is all I have to say to you: Why was the Police's much-ballyhooed reunion concert so underwhelming? Why did it take you, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland so long - like 75 minutes - to find synchronicity? Why did you wait until the encore to play Police hits in a familiar way?

In a recent interview in Rolling Stone, Sting, who always has been the chief of Police, said this reunion tour was to please him and watch the songs develop. I guess he left the fans, who were paying as much as $225 a ticket, out of his thinking. He radically recast some favorites in such a way that they actually challenged the listeners more than the musicians.

'Don't Stand So Close to Me' was so turgid it didn't even get toes tapping. 'Walking on the Moon' was slower than a Michael Jackson moonwalk rendered by a boring jazz-cum-jam band. 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' was a minimalist Middle Eastern-flavored dirge that suggested drudgery rather than devotion. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' was so hesitatingly bouncy that it seemed as if the crowd wanted to party but the band didn't.

A few of the reworkings worked. 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' came across like a stoned reggae piece, and the trio finally started to jam near song's end. 'Walking in Your Footsteps' started as an exotic funk and built into the night's first groove.

Thereafter - well, the final six songs - the Police finally played like a band rather than a famous rock star who had reunited with his two former sidemen for the first time in 23 years to get some huge paychecks.

The band was truly cooking on a hard-driving treatment of 'Can't Stand Losing You'. The intensity had finally picked up, Summers started dancing to the music and Sting actually seemed to be enjoying himself for the first time all night. The eager crowd, which had seemed intermittently bored, finally found synchronicity with the band.

No one minded Sting indulging in jazzing up 'Roxanne', the Police's biggest and most tiresome hit. How many improvised riffs of "Roxanne-oh" does he need to keep his jazz cred? Fortunately, when the band sped up at the song's familiar turn, the fans were thrilled.

Sting was on target with 'King of Pain'. During 'So Lonely', he stalked the stage and ended up jamming with Summers, which was the kind of camaraderie and musicianship fans had hoped for. Yes, Sting has become a jazz sophisticate and world-music adventurer. And Summers has spent most of his post-Police years as a jazz-fusion guitarist, while Copeland has composed soundtracks for TV and movies. (He even put away his drums for 10 years.) But fans wanted the Police reunion to rock - and it finally did.

It didn't matter that Sting didn't even try to hit the high notes on 'Every Breath You Take', because everyone was joyously singing along. And when Sting and Summers playfully pranced around the stage in unison during "Next to You," it made the bracing rocker an anthem for this rocky reunion tour.

Sting, now 55, and Copeland, 54, used to fight like brothers when the Police ruled from 1977 to 1984. But, in the end of the 115-minute performance, they and big brother Summers, 64, were finally in synchronicity.

© The Star Tribune by Jon Bream

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