07.18.07 THE COURIER MAIL


Police still have that sting...

Hundreds of roadies, technicians and security bustle around the giant stage as Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland soundcheck that afternoon for a massive hometown show at Dodgers Stadium after a handful of sold-out arena concerts throughout California.

While they were acknowledged as a British band back in the late '70s and early '80s, Summers and Copeland live in LA and Sting has an absolutely incredible home in Malibu.

The film crews hovering around the trio as they deconstruct 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' include offspring - Jordan, Stewart Copeland's son is recording the action for a future DVD and regular online video blogs, while Sting's son, Jake Sumner, is part of a crew following Summers around for a documentary film about his photography. Meanwhile Joe Sumner will front opening band, Fiction Plane, in a few hours.

"We are going to change the key of the song because Stewart doesn't think I am singing high enough," Sting announces to the competition winners and Australian media baking in the front rows.

Sting isn't doing interviews, to save his voice for the shows; not unusual for singers who face a year of a sold-out world tour but he is chatty and friendly with the besotted fans, inviting four of them on stage to help him sing.

"This could be very embarrassing, Sting, and I know you don't embarrass easily," quips eternal court jester Copeland.

The first guy acquits himself well with his metal-edged voice on 'Don't Stand'; the next guy absolutely nails the incredibly wordy and difficult 'Synchronicity II' and the final married couple are a car crash on the very easy 'Message in a Bottle'.

"This is the best soundcheck we've ever had; you guys are doing all the work," Summers says.

About half an hour later, Copeland seems a little taken aback when I suggest the on-stage banter had a certain edge to it. Were you taking the mickey?

"It's like with siblings. You get more angry and you express your anger much more with a sibling than you would dream of doing with someone at the office," he laughs.

"We don't watch our Ps and Qs with each other. And some of the people around me and certainly the people around Sting are astonished at the abuse we heap on each other. No one's spoken to Il Duce like that in 20 years. There are times when we are goin' at it and we'll look around and see it's gone real quiet."

The stoushes between The Police, both back then in their heyday and the focused debates which characterised the rehearsals for this reunion, are a part of the band's legend.

You have to wonder whether, after all these years, Sting and Copeland are "goin' at it" for entertainment; because everyone expects it as much as they expect the hits at the shows.

"No, that would be fun. It would be a glib thing to say but, no, I don't think so," Copeland insists.

"It's real important to us. The reason we became musicians is because it's really important and at this point in our lives, it's so obvious to me that this is better than that. So (as if to Sting), 'What do you mean you want to do it that way? Hellooo.'

"The thing is we are good medicine for each other and in spite of everything, we recognise that."

Summers seems to be the peacemaker in 2007 and Copeland nominates him as winning the Who Can Be The Most Diplomatic competition.

"It's a very unaccustomed and strange role for Andy.

"And his wife just can't believe it. Andy is a motherf---er, he is a fireball. He's not a facilitator. He's not Mr Time Out, he's Mr Sub-Machinegun," Copeland says in hysterics.

There is no doubt this band is enjoying being back together.

The drummer says that the attraction of a world tour - the coddling, the crowds, the community of bandmates and crew - provoked an instant: "Yes, when?"

Sting finally made the call.

It is 30 years since The Police began a seven-year rise to conquer the charts with hit pop songs which fused punk, reggae and jazz.

Since then, they have sold more than 40 million records, propelled by smash hits 'Message in a Bottle' (1979), 'Walking on the Moon' (1979), 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' (1980), 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' (1981), and 'Every Breath You Take' (1983).

Their last concert was at the Melbourne Showgrounds in 1984 and Copeland is regularly reminded of it.

"I still have the confetti from the last time I was in Australia, from Melbourne, the last show," he says.

"We had so much confetti landing on us, that it's still falling out of my old flight cases. I was coughing it up for the next two years."

Their reunion was officially announced in February at the famed LA club Whisky a Go Go, the day after they had performed at the Grammy Awards.

Before going public with their plans, the band had long been in rehearsal at Sting's Tuscan villa, Il Palagio, kicking off with yoga and Pilates before spending hours chasing the chemistry which had lain dormant for more than two decades.

"In the magic Stingdom? Yes, yes, yes, we did yoga and Pilates. It's absolutely true," Copeland bellows.

"His humble abode is like a five-star hotel. There's room service. The three ladies come in and clean the room every day. And the laundering - you don't have to fill out a laundry list, they are pulling your knickers off your butt as you go to bed at night and ironing them.

"There's seven or eight kitchen staff and he's got this chef out of New York, I want to marry the guy. And we'd have dinner in one of the different halls or out in this garden here or that garden over there. Mouth watering. It was so beautiful."

The Police will play Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on January 22. Tickets go on sale July 30 through Ticketek 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au

© The Courier Mail by Kathy McCabe
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