The Police still have the magic...
January 22, 2008 

"Are you ready to sing," Sting said, launching into The Police's 'Walking on the Moon'.

And sing is what many of the 30,000 or so fans did in Brisbane last night as the band played its first Australian show in almost 24 years at Suncorp Stadium.

Some of that audience may have remembered singing that same song all those years ago.

Grey beards and wrinkles aside, not a lot has changed since The Police ended their first phase in 1985.

The parade of hits is much the same: 'Walking On The Moon', 'Message In a Bottle', 'Roxanne', 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. The list goes on and on.

If there is a difference, it's that the level of musicianship in the three individuals - bassist and vocalist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland - has improved. Six months on the road hasn't done their cohesion any harm either.

Good-looking, talented songwriter Sting makes it all look so easy while his two colleagues labour slightly more. His singing is faultless. However, Copeland excels with his crossed rock and reggae rhythms, while Summers is mostly tasteful in colouring and underpinning Sting's melodies.

If there is a fault, it's in the extended instrumental interludes, one or two of which overstay their welcome. Other than that, this is a polished performance by one of the most original and innovative rock bands of the 1980s.

The encores - 'King of Pain', 'So Lonely', 'Every Step You Take' and 'All I Want Is To Be Next to You' - served only to underline the strength and depth of a catalogue that stands the test of time. New album, anyone?

Earlier, US pop superstar Fergie thanked The Police for inviting her along, but she must have felt a little odd being the warm-up act last night. The biggest-selling artist in Australia last year was brought on The Police reunion tour of the country to bolster ticket sales.

This may at least have placated some reluctant teenagers brought along by parents rediscovering their youth. Fergie's highly choreographed performance, with more dancers than musicians and including hits 'London Bridge' and 'Big Girls Don't Cry', was a surprisingly effective teaser for the main event.

Opening the program was Sting's son Joe Sumner and his band Fiction Plane. Playing material from their two albums 'Left Side of the Brain' and 'Everything Will Never Be Okay', they sounded like a cross between Sumner senior's band and U2.

The Police tour continues in Sydney tomorrow before travelling to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

© The Australian by Iain Shedden

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