Police Reunion
Jul
28
2007
Boston, USFenway Park
With Fiction Plane
0
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Reunited, The Police uncork the magic again...

Afternoon thunderstorms knocked out the power along a stretch of Boylston Street for four hours Saturday night, but fans a block away knew nothing of it as the reunited Police uncorked the lightning in a bottle the band captured 30 years ago and juiced up Fenway Park.

The stakes were high in this, the first of two Boston capacity-crowd shows: Why would any aging rock band reunite if it weren't prepared to blow people away? Thankfully, - though it took a while to get the party started - vocalist/bassist Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers did just that in a performance that enhanced their standing in the pantheon of rock's best acts.

The Fenway shows were a homecoming of sorts, as Boston was among the first U.S. cities to embrace the band's music. That fact was not lost on the band.

''So, we have a lot of history with this town,'' Sting said from the stage nestled along Fenway's Green Monster. ''We first played here in 1879 (really 1978) in the (now defunct) Rathskeller in Kenmore Square.''

Although the mostly 40-something crowd gleefully sang along to hits like 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', the band's more than 90-minute set (with two encores) was no mere nostalgia trip. With the players in fine form, Sting, Copeland and Summers gave each other room to stretch, and the payoff was obvious. Looking downright ebullient, they were having fun out there.

Although it didn't always connect with the crowd, experimentation was the order of the day as the band reinvented many of the songs' opening bars and slowed some song tempos. Sometimes it worked - as in the funkier opening to 'Synchronicity II', the souped up groove on 'Voices Inside My Head', and, I swear, an intro to 'Invisible Sun' that resembled the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence' - and sometimes it didn't. A slowed chorus to 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' pulled from the band's 1986 version of the song seemed to confuse audience members singing along and a slower pace to 'Truth Hits Everybody' sapped the song of its punch.

But, midway through the set, early into 'De Doo Doo Doo, De Da, Da, Da' something seemed to take hold among the bandmates. As if being cleared for take off, they just exploded, zooming like a pack of sonic jet fighters who didn't look back. The songs got tighter, the playing more inspired and fierce, and they showed they can still turn around a song's rhythm on the edge of a dime. Sensing they were witnessing something special, audience members responded, giving the band a standing ovation during 'Reggatta de Blanc,' which was sandwiched in the middle of 'Can't Stand Losing You'.

Sting's voice is as sparkling as ever but arguably, the standout of the set was Summers, who had a lick for every mood, and whose jams next to Sting were great to watch. Copeland held forth with his trademark fills and flourishes, but beyond that, his timekeeping seemed more centered, almost meditative, and his drumming was shown to great effect in 'Walking In Your Footsteps'. Not many bands can claim they sound better 30 years on. Clearly, that's what Sting, Copeland and Summers are after, and during the second half of the show, they succeeded.

Rock trio Fiction Plane, fronted by Sting's son, bassist/vocalist Joe Sumner, with guitarist Seton Daunt and drummer Pete Wilhoit, opened the show and put in a solid set despite a piddling crowd that was just arriving at the park. The younger Sumner sounds like his dad when singing in the higher register but not so much like Sting that it would be a career detriment (think Julian Lennon). The mostly straight-ahead rock songs showed some pop promise at times, especially the hooks to 'Two Sisters' and 'It's a Lie'. Expect this band to continue working on its sound for the next generation. All in all, a good night for music fans.

The Police tour returns to Boston in November for a performance at the TD Banknorth Garden.

(c) Portsmouth Herald News by Nancy Cicco



Police were on, but something seemed missing...

In May drummer Stewart Copeland notoriously dubbed the Police's first reunion tour performance a ''disaster.'' Thus ended his career as the band's official blogger and began the whisperings of concern among the faithful about this long-awaited return to active duty.

Sunday night at Fenway Park, the justifiably Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-enshrined trio didn't even flirt with disaster. They were efficient, expansive, and dutiful. But, with a handful of exceptions, Copeland, guitarist Andy Summers, and bassist-singer Sting were rarely much more than that.

In the second of two shows at the venerable ballyard, the Police played well but never threatened to blow off the metaphorical roof, or even appeared to be enjoying themselves all that much. The lack of superficial cheerfulness could be forgiven by the concentration required to navigate the intricacies of some of the most sophisticated songs ever to be worn out by classic rock radio. But the consistent spirit of excitement, of ''event''-ness, of affection for the audience achieved by past Fenway denizens like the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen never materialized.

Musically when the three planets aligned, the results were magnificent. The opening salvo of 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II' announced that Sting was in mighty voice. To his great credit he continued to hit most of the money notes the same way he wore his tight black trousers, with Sting-ian self-assurance.

Early rockers 'So Lonely' and 'Driven To Tears' were at once familiarly jittery and a platform for Summers to remind the assembled - including his bandmates - of the fire in his fretwork. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' neatly demonstrated the trio's ability to compensate for missing instrumental elements, as the signature keyboards were not required to revive the song's tropical froth. The crowd's unprompted supply of the refrain ''that's my soul up there'' during a sinuous 'King of Pain' lent the song a communal poignance. And Copeland's tasteful, exotic percussion on 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' was a shivery delight.

But just when it seemed the band was hitting its stride, a song like 'Truth Hits Everybody' would come in at a maddeningly slow tempo or the rickety-to-begin-with 'De Do Do Do, De Da, Da, Da' would sputter out with a non-ending. And it would take a miracle to revive interest in 'Roxanne' and her red light.

The minimal staging also didn't offer much in the way of entertainment or distraction. Yes, there were state-of-the-art lights and video screens. But the images were pretty much limited to band close-ups and album cover re-creations. Lovingly shot images of random children of the world appeared during 'Invisible Sun'. And the dinosaur skeletons that ambled to the cool groove of 'Walking in Your Footsteps' were impressive in CG detail but not particularly thrilling. Certainly pyrotechnics isn't the point when you see a band of true musicians like the Police. But for a top ticket price of $250, anticipating a little extra tinsel doesn't seem unreasonable or a compromise of their integrity.

Twenty years of expectations are near impossible to meet, but Sunday night it felt the crowd was twice as excited as the band they had come to see. Had it been the other way around, the Police reunion show would have been fantastic, not merely fine.

(c) The Boston Globe by Sarah Rodman



The Police out in full force...

For a band that broke up in 1984, The Police were musically precise and obviously reveling in their work Saturday night as the trio opened a two-night stand at Fenway Park before a near-capacity crowd of about 35,000.

The massive three-story stage was set in center field, with video screens on either side and three slightly smaller ones behind the stage. The screens behind the stage were used to especially good effect, each one showing a different band member in every song.

Some reports have referred to the reunion of the '80's hitmakers as a ''fragile truce,'' as the other members dealt with the notorious perfectionist Sting. But the biggest impression Saturday night was that Sting was having the most fun of all, grinning through nearly every song in their two-hour set, singing and playing better than ever, and even joking about his two cohorts, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland.

Sting, 55, also looks about 20 years younger than his compatriots. Summers, 64, is rather lumpy and doughy-faced, while Copeland, who's Sting's age, now bears a gray moptop and looked a bit haggard as he pounded out those unmistakable polyrhythms. The band is touring as the original trio, without additional musicians to share the load. This made some songs sound different, as 'Synchronicity', for one, came without keyboards, but the extra focus on the threesome served them well.

The Police covered most of their best hits, but it didn't feel like a golden oldies show. There was a tangible effort to expand and develop the tunes, sometimes reflecting Sting's solo career and its more jazz-pop direction. Fans hoping for note-perfect renditions of the old hits would've been happy, and those expecting new treatments would've also approved. Wholly new material would've been nice, but with so many fine rock songs, perhaps we can wait until the next tour - hopefully not 23 years away.

'Message In A Bottle' opened the show Saturday, and 'Synchronicity' wasn't far behind, and the predominantly 30-plus crowd was in party mode immediately. The light reggae lilt that accompanied so many Police hits colored a haunting version of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'.

''We have a history in this town,'' Sting said at one point early on, ''from 1878 (sic) when we played the Rathskellar on Kenmore Square, then the Paradise, the Orpheum.''

Summers' skittering guitar lines powered a throbbing 'Driven To Tears'. 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' started quietly before bursting into joyous pop-rock.

The dreamy, otherworldly feel of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' had Copeland using his huge gong to surreal effect, as pot smoke wafted over the expensive seats. 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' bubbled along as Sting - in superb vocal form - played with the tempo, singing just behind the beat.

The pensive ballad 'Invisible Sun' was a rare quieter moment. The reggae beat bumping behind 'Can't Stand Losing You' kept accelerating into a big roaring finish bands half their age would envy. The stage lights turned red for 'Roxanne', naturally, and the trio proved its quiet-verses/rockin' choruses structure is timeless, but a mid-song jazzy interlude just sort of took up time. Summers' guitar lines were exquisite on the encore 'King of Pain', and Sting never sounded better. 'So Lonely' was another masterful evocation of the band's classic sound, with Sting inserting his bandmates' names into the lyrics. 'Every Breath You Take' seemed to take on a new world-weary tone. The second encore was such a blazing 'Next To You',' it suggested 1984 wasn't that long ago.

(c) The Patriot Ledger by Jay N. Miller



The Police aren't stuck in same old groove...

Twenty-three years after separating amid acrimony and the ever-popular artistic differences, members of The Police are back together for a reunion tour that finds Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland enjoying an exultant return.

The Police tour is hitting all of the summer's headline-grabbing events, with the band adding two sold-out shows at Fenway Park to a list that already included high-profile gigs at Live Earth and the Bonnaroo Festival.

Watching the reunited Police perform Saturday at the first of the Fenway gigs, it was clear Sting (Gordon Sumner), Summers and Copeland were not content to simply cash in on the legacy that secured such a rabid response to the band's return. Rather, The Police messed around with songs, and even though some of the experiments backfired, the effort was always commendable and never entirely disastrous.

The Police unfurled a two-hour set on a large, uncluttered stage. The band looked and sounded consummately together, each member bringing a little something of his post-Police career back into the band. Sting's pop-romanticism seeped into the reunion sound, as did Summer's ever-more-modulated guitar dynamics and Copeland's wildly imaginative percussion romps.

Though historically linked to the punk-rock movement, The Police never ascribed to punk's theory of passion-over-chops, and this reunion tour revised the history to highlight the fact the essence of The Police lies more in progressive pop, music that can be rhythmically exotic, melodically complex, and lyrically intelligent.

What The Police still shares somewhat with the punk camp is a willingness to be unpredictable. And that playfulness emerged from the outset of the first Fenway show as 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II' featured some reckless abandon that sometimes found Sting and Copeland playing to separate beats.

The spacey groove of 'Walking On The Moon' and frenetic, jazzy rendering given a pairing of 'Voices in My Head' and 'When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around', though, delivered a rich payoff for those who wanted to see The Police play not just memorable songs but also turn in a vital performance.

The vitality came in some unexpected vehicles. For slow-burn intensity, 'Wrapped around Your Finger' scored as it clicked into a seamless, hypnotic groove, while the similarly structured 'The Bed's Too Big without You' simply plodded to a listless conclusion.

And who would have bet that 'So Lonely' would best 'Roxanne' as the song to bring down the house toward the end of the show? But that's what happened as The Police treated the simply beguiling reggae-tinged 'Roxanne' as if it was the Allman Brothers Band playing 'Whipping Post'. On 'So Lonely', the band found the fuse, lit it and simply waited for the crowd and song to explode alike.

Though on the road since May, members of The Police still seem to be feeling the way through some of the songs in the repertoire, which has been fairly constant since the start of the tour. On 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', for instance, the theatrical Sting was still singing the flirtation tale instead of inhabiting it the way he is capable of. Odds are that when The Police returns to the area in November for a show at the TD Banknorth Garden the band will be that much deeper into the material and overall more consistently better sounding.

But in exchange for watching the band work up to perfection, The Police treated its fans to an inspired set list, pulling out such gems as 'Invisible Sun' and 'Truth Hits Everybody' to play alongside the radio hits 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da'.

The band encores split the difference between the cerebral Police and the celebratory Police, as 'King of Pain' and 'Every Breath You Take' brought the drama and sophistication while 'So Lonely' and 'Next To You' lurched back to the rumble-and-roll that launched the band in the first place.

Fiction Plane, a band led by Sting's son Joe Sumner, opened the show. Sumner, who is as much a musical clone of his father as he is his genetic offspring, aptly noted his band did not deserve to be playing Fenway Park but loved the opportunity nonetheless. The Police-esque trio Fiction Plane proved pleasant enough and in a more natural setting (a club date, for instance) would be better able to prove its own worth.

(c) Telegram & Gazette by Scott McLennan



Recapturing the magic: The Police, Fenway Park...

Nearly thirty years after it happened, the Police are still talking about playing the Rat in November 1978. That four-night stand is mentioned in publicity materials for their reunion tour; and Saturday at Fenway Park Sting mentioned ''the Rathskellar on Kenmore Square'' (he may not have realized how close to that site he was standing). The Police nowadays may look older and play slower but are still chasing the magic, just like a lot of people who played the Rat that year.

To the band's credit, the Police's current tour isn't about sounding just like they did 25 years ago, or sounding just like the records. Rather, it's about recapturing their mojo as an improvisational rock trio who can rearrange songs on the fly. They're playing strictly as a trio, without the added players and backup singers from their later 80's tours (no evident tapes either, except maybe some harmonies). The 'Synchronicity'-era songs automatically sounded different without the keyboards, but nearly everything was reworked or stretched-out (and often moved to lower keys) to let Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers find their way around each other instrumentally.

That sense of real-time exploration made the two-hour show's peaks grand and its lags excusable. And yes, the lags were there; especially during the first half; where 'Walking On The Moon' floated a little too lightly. And there's no sense playing a punk song like 'Truth Hits Everybody' if you can't rev up to punk speed. The three band members seemed to be keeping their egos in check: Sting made relatively few rock-star moves, spoke conversationally between songs and kept the ''eee-yoh'' singalongs to a minimum; Copeland didn't get a lead vocal, Summers kept his head down when not soloing. They seemed determined to peak as a unit or not at all.

It took Summers' ripping, cheap-thrill solo on 'Driven To Tears' to bust things open; and from there the peaks kept coming - most notably on 'Walking in Your Footsteps', which featured shifts and surprises that the recorded version barely suggest (Summers seemed to be coaxing the band into a ZZ Top-style boogie riff toward the end). 'Roxanne' started fast and sprightly, the way it probably did at the Rat (complete with Sting going for the high notes that he's avoided in recent years); but the long middle jam was more rewarding, taking the oft-played song to a place it hadn't been before.

The shows will likely get more consistent as the tour goes on; but they could also use some new material, at least a song or two that could represent where the band stands today. Sure, plenty of bands have done quick-grab reunion tours without writing anything new; but even with its dead spots, the first Fenway show proved that the Police are still too good to take the easy way out.

(c) Boston Phoenix by Brett Milano



Still great, the Police aspire to an even higher status...

Here's the main challenge facing a serious rock band reuniting after 23 years: You want to show the people that you (and your back catalog) still have the juice, but you also need to demonstrate that you've grown and changed as musicians. It's not easy, which is why most groups jumping on the reunion bandwagon simply trot out hits preserved in amber.

The still-great Police aspire to something even greater. Last night at Fenway Park (where they will perform again tonight) the band aimed for - and often found - that elusive sweet spot between nostalgic singalongs and contemporary relevance.

The show opened with a bang: 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II', both crisp and jittery, fog machine cranked to 10. Sting stalked the stage in tight black jeans tucked into combat boots, and a carefully torn white T-shirt, while Andy Summers spun out subtly-textured shards of guitar and drummer Stewart Copeland played everything but the beat.

Back in the day the band's reggae-inflected rock was always this wiry and uncluttered - hooky enough for the radio and brash enough to claim punk heritage - and even when they grew more adventurous the songs sounded deceptively straightforward. Technical sophistication wasn't the main selling point for a trio of young Brits ushering in the New Wave. No matter how complex Copeland's polyrhythms or dense Summers's chord patterns, they still sounded like sharp pop tunes.

But now that the Police have got something else to prove, 'Walking in Your Footsteps' morphed from icy electronics to double-time blues, and ''Wrapped Around Your Finger'' absorbed a sinewy, Middle Eastern flavor thanks to Copeland's occasional trips to his well-stocked percussion set, which included a giant gong and exotic chimes.

'Roxanne', sadly, stretched into a languid (read: dirgelike) jam, which felt more like a self-indulgent detour than a thrilling soundscape. And at times the repertoire seemed to have been infected by the easy, jazzy turn Sting has taken as a solo artist. The genius of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' was in the uneasy mix of the sinister and the innocent, but last night smooth curves replaced the ominous edges of that song.

The Police broke up in 1984 due to creative and personal conflicts, but the discord that unraveled the band was also part of their dynamic chemistry. At the start of last night's concert it was like watching three separate force fields, each in their own orbit, skillfully bouncing off of each other. It wasn't until more than an hour in that the band members started playing in each other's pockets, during a luminous second half that included 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', 'Invisible Sun', 'King of Pain', 'So Lonely', and 'Every Breath You Take'.

Sting's son Joe Sumner is the frontman and bass player in a British rock trio - a career choice that seems dubious under the best circumstances and particularly sorry after sitting through Fiction Plane's generic opening set.

(c) Boston Globe by Joan Anderman



Police bring on the might: Amp up intensity at Fenway Park...

Time has been good to The Police.

On their first tour in more than 20 years, the newly reunited trio delivered a performance at Fenway Park on Saturday night that proved the only thing worn and weathered about the band is Sting's bass guitar.

Among the night's themes were frequent tempo changes, long guitar interludes and masterful percussion work from drummer Stewart Copeland, who resembled a man possessed during drumming sequences when his gloves and headband clearly came in handy.

Guitarist Andy Summers played the sturdy and occasionally inspired counterpart to front man Sting, whose bass lines, vocals and considerable charisma helped carry the show; his blue eyes, wide-mouthed grin and sizable biceps certainly didn't hurt.

At 55, Sting isn't the oldest rock star to still be rocking, but he is possibly the most chiseled.

The sold-out crowd was full of middle-aged fans obviously giddy with excitement to relive their teenage years, and they still know all the lyrics to hits including the set opener 'Message In A Bottle', 'Synchronicity II' and the otherworldly, reggae-inspired 'Walking On The Moon', one of many songs to get an extended treatment.

The peppy carelessness of 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' was balanced by the intensity of 'Roxanne', which got the red light treatment, along with upbeat hits 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'.

In addition to the night's musical peaks, there were the slowish, entertaining-but-not-quite-explosive numbers including 'Driven To Tears', 'Voices Inside My Head' and the hard-to-find rhythmic template of 'The Bed's Too Big Without You'.

The action took place on a mammoth stage in front of the Green Monster, a fitting historic location for a band that crammed an unusually high number of accolades - five No. 1 albums and six Grammy awards - into just seven years of work.

The show lasted for roughly two hours and featured a double encore that included 'King Of Pain', and 'Every Breath You Take', the monster hit off 'Synchronicity', the Police's most successful album.

It was the first of two shows in Boston on the band's six-continent reunion tour; the second is tonight.

Opening act Fiction Plane played to more empty seats than actual people, but those in attendance got a preview of things to come as the English rock group was fronted by Joe Sumner, Sting's son.

(c) The Boston Herald by Lauren Carter



The Police At Fenway Park...

If you believe the worst of the rumors, the members of the Police spend most of their downtime on the tour bus smashing bottles and going after one another with the jagged glass. But whatever happens offstage, it doesn't seem to affect the show. The Police reunion tour hit Fenway Park for the first of two nights, and they've hardly lost a step.

The best part of a reunion that nobody thought would ever happen is that there's no new album in the works, and none of the concert is devoted to trying out new stuff. The Police know their hits, they know the fans want to hear the hits, and the hits are what they play. They launched right into it, blasting out 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II', followed by a mellow 'Walking On The Moon' (with a bit of celestial assistance, as the moon hung large and red over the right field roof boxes).

There was some criticism early in this tour that the band was getting a little too experimental, letting songs drift off into unfamiliar directions. Not so much at Fenway; sure, they played around with 'Roxanne' a bit, but they always do that. The biggest disappointment of the night was probably 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'; Sting doesn't reach for the high notes anymore that really kick that song into high gear, and for that one song, he sounded suspiciously like a 55-year-old man.

But he more than made up for it with fantastic performances of 'Invisible Sun' and 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' (which included Stewart Copeland, more animated than drummers usually are, really exploring the space). When they cranked the rock back on for 'Can't Stand Losing You', the mood was so good that we might have even caught Sting and guitarist Andy Summers smiling at one another.

The encore had even more good vibes, as the Police rocked out 'King Of Pain', 'So Lonely' and 'Every Breath You Take' (punctuated by some nitwits trying to spend some time on the fenced-off infield; we know how disappointed Joe Castiglione would be). The second encore was a no-nonsense 'Next To You', and the band was definitely smiling as they took their final bows. Who knows if the good feeling will last until tomorrow.

Fiction Plane opened the show with a nice set. Lead singer Joe Sumner may or may not want to be constantly compared to his dad (better known as Sting), but the similarities are too obvious to be ignored. Maybe Joe could have come out and helped Pop with some of the higher notes.

(c) Bostonist by Michael Femia



The Police bring more than memories to Fenway Park...

When The Police were dominating the pop-music world in the early '80s, there was popular speculation as to whether the British-American trio were more accurately described as singer and chief songwriter Sting and his backup band.

Well, the fact that Sting has had a successful solo career for more than 20 years makes one argument for that case, but last night's Police reunion at Fenway Park (the first of two shows; the second is tonight) made the other. While Sting's durable pop gems were the backbone, the highlight of the two-hour show was hearing guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland back in action.

Sting played the suave, concerned rock god, as always, with his keening voice and fleet-fingered reggae-influenced bass playing in fine shape. (OK, so he took it down an octave for 'So Lonely,' but give him a break.) Summers, who kicked the concert into gear from the intro to the opener 'Message In A Bottle', tore through straightforward rock solos in 'Synchronicity II' and 'Can't Stand Losing You', just to name a few, providing his distinctive dirty-yet-synthesized tone and all the time alternating between trying on the rock-god pose and thinking better of it.

And Copeland, who has kept an even lower profile than Summers (as a performer, anyway) since The Police's ''hiatus'' began in 1984, was once again one of the legendary drummers of late-period rock: volcanic and loose-limbed, throwing in just enough accents to propel rather than clutter the groove and to keep listeners guessing.

While The Police have been away long enough that a greatest-hits set was just fine - songs came from all of the group's five (geez, was it really only five?) albums - the extensions and improvisations that the group was always famous for kept the material fresh.

Their jams were always hit-or-miss affairs, but last night they mostly hit. Performing strictly as a trio, eschewing the horn sections and backup singers of the last concert tours of their first go-round was a smart move - the better for the kind of tight communication that powers successful jams.

'Driven To Tears' went for the throat from the get-go with a precursor of the full-speed guitar-solo ending. And while 'Walking On The Moon' and the relative rarity 'Truth Hits Everybody' dragged somewhat, every time it seemed the group was succumbing to age, something such as a full-tilt (and even faster) 'So Lonely' came along to reassure everyone. 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around' was highlighted by a Summers guitar solo that verged into Middle Eastern melody; the double-tempo jam that ended 'Walking In Your Footsteps' was a visceral shocker and the extended 'Can't Stand Losing You' was particularly clangorous.

'Wrapped Around Your Finger' saw Copeland man a sprawling percussion kit, with rolling malleted drums on the choruses, but even on relatively straightforward renditions of songs such as 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', the addition of unusual double choruses showed that the rehearsal process consisted of more than remembering the record.

There wasn't enough evidence to judge either way as to whether The Police's supposedly chilly interpersonal relations had improved any. It was hardly a love fest; there were very few words spoken on stage (and all by Sting), but his bet-I-can-make-you-look stares at Summers during several guitar solos were endearing.

'Every Breath You Take' ended the regular set, simply as a nod to its hit status, but it was straightforward and a relative letdown; it was more fitting that a noisy, full-tilt 'All I Want is to be Next To You' closed out the night.

Fiction Plane, led by Sting's son Joe Sumner, opened the show with chilly '80s-style rock reminiscent of Echo and the Bunnymen. Their songs were catchy enough, but their attempts at improvisations were more mannered, not as far afield from the songs, and less skilled.

Sting played the suave, concerned rock god, as always, with his keening voice and fleet-fingered reggae-influenced bass playing in fine shape.

(c) The Providence Journal by Rick Massimo

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