Fans in Hershey find The Police still arresting after 30 years...
July 20, 2007 

Eric Chmielewski's taste with newer music runs toward Linkin Park and other slightly harder stuff, but that wasn't what he was playing on the car stereo Friday during his two-hour drive to Hersheypark.

It was 'Synchronicity', and "what a great album, from start to finish," the Bel Air, Md., man said, pointing to the big, still-empty stage in the distance just before dusk Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.

When he heard about the Police reunion, coming to see them "was a no-brainer... we just knew we had to be here," the 37-year-old Chmielewski said, standing with his wife, Amy, before Friday night's long-awaited reunion concert.

Soon, that empty stage was filled with three familiar-looking, if now-slightly-older guys, a familiar-sounding singer's voice could be heard, and some of that same music the Chmielewskis had been playing on the car stereo was pumping out all over the hills around Hershey.

If you looked at your Blackberry, it told you that this was 2007.

But to look at the stage or listen to the catchy, quirky music of this band that was once the most popular in the world, you'd swear it was 1983 again.

The Police, together again. Holy Pacman and Joan Collins, Batman!

And from the first notes of their opener, 'Message in a Bottle', the band showed it was still musically excellent, and that lead singer/bass player Sting is still one of the best singers on the planet.

It also showed just a touch of... well, rust, or maybe sound problems, at the start of 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', but then they quickly righted themselves.

Sting, wearing a white muscle shirt, his blond hair making him look more like a California beach bum than a one-time teacher from England, brought a friendly front-man presence along with him.

He also brought his power-packed voice, which got an assist from a packed stadium of background singers who knew all the songs, anyway.

Like 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' or 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', when the crowd easily added the "...all I want to say to you" ending.

"The question is, Are you ready to sing tonight?" Sting asked the crowd, and the all-as-one roar told you the answer.

The Police were a mostly excellent show, and weren't content to just be a nostalgia act, showing their musical excellence throughout on songs like the slower 'Walking On the Moon'.

Drummer Stewart Copeland, keeping his funky beat and wearing a black headband, bore of look of strong and almost fierce determination through the show.

After several songs, before you could think this would be just a boilerplate, tried-and-true "Best of the Police" concert, there came a major jam by guitarist Andy Summers on his cool-looking, bright-red guitar, followed by a funkified bass thumb-and-slap by Mr. Sting.

The only glitches, as we said, were a little "tentativeness" at the start of a song or two. But that came and went.

And the crowd, a somewhat-surprising mix of fans from the first time around and younger ones born since the Police dominated the airwaves, sure didn't seem to mind.

As Chmielewski said at one point, this was a group that wrote songs and brought out "really great, intelligent lyrics."

Friday night's concert in the old bowl of a stadium came nearly 30 years after the Police first broke into the musical consciousness with the smash hit 'Roxanne'.

They then stuck around, becoming (along with the Clash and, a little later, U2) the pre-eminent act of the early 1980s, and they were the most-played group on U.S. radio in the 1980s.

They improvised like a jazz trio, played with the raw energy of a punk band (punk music was still fairly new in the early 80s), and all the while, there were Sting's trademark, unique voice and lyrics that told you he had thought about stuff.

The group originally broke through as punk rock was shaking up the music scene in the late 1970s, and each member of the Police came from a different musical background.

Sting, a former English teacher (also the former Gordon Sumner) always had a literary bent to his lyrics, had played in various jazz fusion groups.

The group also is international. Sting and Summers are English, while Copeland's a Yank.

After 'Roxanne', the hits came one after the other for the group - 'Message in a Bottle' and 'Walking on the Moon' from their second album 'Regatta de Blanc', and later, 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Every Breath You Take', one of the most-remembered and most-played songs of its time.

Friday night's Hershey show was one of the last of the band's 42-city tour, which will end Aug. 5 at New Jersey's Giants Stadium.

© Lancaster New Era by David O'Connor

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