Police Reunion
Jul
17
2007
Detroit, USPalace of Auburn Hills
With Fiction Plane
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Police Reunion Rocks The Palace...

Early on in the Police concert Tuesday night at the Palace, singer-bassist Sting recalled playing to three people - ''and one was the (booking) agent'' - at the Detroit club Bookie's in November of 1978, on the trio's inaugural tour of North America.

The memory carried some charm given that the group's first tour in 23 years is playing multiple stadium dates in some cities and enthralled a crowd of roughly 20,000 at the Palace with warm musical memories dating back to a time when vinyl records still dominated the marketplace and a fledgling MTV played primarily music videos.

And while it would be an exaggeration to say the Police men - Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland - haven't lost a step since the band discontinued in 1984, they're still playing at the top of their game, both recreating and refreshing one of the most potent and creatively challenging catalogs in pop music.

If Tuesday's Police performance wasn't quite as fierce as the group was back in The Day of the late '70s and early '80s, the trio was perhaps even tighter -- and just as ambitious and clever. 'Voices Inside My Head', for instance, was treated with more restraint but felt funkier as it morphed into 'When the World is Running Down...' An artful rendering of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' featured Copeland dancing around a percussion ensemble, while 'Walking in Your Footsteps' built into a bluesy vamp with a John Lee Hooker-style boogie groove.

Even the show-closing 'Next To You', previously a real fire-breather, sounded convincing in an airier, more relaxed tempo.

The handsomely staged 20-song, hour-and-50-minute show certainly did not disappoint those coming to hear the hits. The Police opened with 'Message in a Bottle' and offered tastefully extended versions of favorites such as 'Walking on the Moon', 'Can't Stand Losing You', 'Roxanne', 'So Lonely' and 'Every Breath You Take''' And if the group never quite found the right pulse for 'Synchronicity II' and 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', it more than compensated with dynamic discourses on 'Driven To Tears', 'Truth Hits Everybody' and 'Invisible Sun' - the latter's humanitarian message accented by images of children refugees on the video screens above the stage.

There are perhaps some reasons to be skeptical about the Police reunion this year - especially with ticket prices that topped out at $227.50. But seeing the band play on Tuesday made it clear that the music is hardly an afterthought, regardless of how long it stays together this time.

(c) The Oakland Press by Gary Graff



Police back on the beat...

They towered over most of the rock world in their prime, and The Police proved on stage here at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday that they're more than mere museum pieces today.

The ongoing archaeological dig that is the revival of The Police took the more than 20,000 who attended Tuesday's show back nearly a quarter of a century to the final days of the original band in the early 1980s.

Songs like 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', 'Roxanne', and 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' have lost none of their shine and energy. With a catalogue of songs that is the envy of any band, The Police could play for hour after hour without repeats.

As it was, they packed everything into a concise, well-tuned couple of hours, including encores. It began with Message In A Bottle, drummer Stewart Copeland rising to the stage on a hydraulic lift.

When Copeland struck a giant gong like the old movies, the concert was underway.

Sting sang out - in great voice - the opening lines and the entire audience joined in. It wasn't the only time there was a chorus of thousands, each time encouraged by Sting.

Then came the later hit, 'Synchronicity II', which provided Andy Summers with his first solo turn on lead guitar.

Before the next song, 'Walking On The Moon', and its famous ee-oh-oh chorus, Sting reminisced about the first time The Police played Detroit - November of 1978 at the old Bookie's Club on 6 Mile Road. ''There were three people there and one of them was the agent,'' he joked.

Extinction isn't in their vocabulary, as they made clear in the song 'Walking in Your Footsteps', and as they clearly showed in concert.

Not surprisingly, they do look their ages - Sting (Gordon Sumner), 55; Stewart Copeland, 55; and Andy Summers, 64. Copeland actually just turned 55 on Monday and Sting turns 56 in December.

The music is ageless, of course: A still-intriguing blend of punk reggae, rockabilly, R&B, and even hints of disco.

There's not the same spring in Sting's step, but his bass lines throb with the same intensity, and Copeland's drumming is the Hemi-charge of the band's sound.

Summers' contribution, as always, was more subtle. He's the quiet one on mainly rhythm guitar who adds Robert Fripp-like tonal effects to the melody being carried by Sting's voice and bass.

There were several solos for Summers, including When the World is Running Down, which featured an increasingly rapid tempo and some truly inspired drumming from Copeland.

Most of the hits were there, from 'Roxanne' and 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', to 'I Can't Stand Losing You' and 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'. The two encores featured probably their biggest song, 'Every Breath You Take', along with the audience and concert favourite, 'King of Pain'.

There were some rarities as well, like 'Truth Hits Everybody' from the first album, and 'Invisible Sun'.

The most exciting sequence was during 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' in which Copeland banged an array of percussion instruments, from timpani to gongs.

Fiction Plane opened the show with a Police-like set of reggae-heavy bass, and that's not surprising - Sting's son, Joe Sumner, leads the band on bass and vocals, singing exactly like his dad. The set included the hit, 'Two Sisters', from the debut album, 'Left Side of the Brain'.

(c) The Windsor Star by Ted Shaw



Police offer arresting performance...

It's hard to say if anything lasting will come from the Police's 30th anniversary tour.

But one can't help but hope, based on Tuesday's performance before a capacity crowd of more than 20,000 people at The Palace. It was a bit uneven at times, and the rust from not playing together for 24 years clearly showed with occasional slack pacing.

But it was also an often inspired - and occasionally playful - 110 minutes of music from one of the biggest bands in the world in its early '80s heyday.

They played 19 songs in all, pretty much the same ones they've been hashing out on this tour, performed on a sleek, stripped-down oval stage designed to celebrate and showcase their considerable legacy and the group's three distinct personalities.

Two dozen years is a long time to be inactive in pop music. Heck, that's four dozen lifetimes in today's disposable pop music culture. Back in the era of neon colors, spiked hair, leg warmers and Ronald Reagan - which produced the volatile, bottle-blond, MTV-friendly trio - bands and music were built to last.

The Police, featuring charismatic singer-bassist Gordon ''Sting'' Sumner, ethereal guitarist Andy Summers and hyperactive American drummer Stewart Copeland, didn't last as an entity. They disbanded in 1984, four years before the Palace was built.

Sting, of course, went on to a hugely successful solo career (not to mention some notable film roles) and Summers forged an identity as a jazz musician and photographer, while Copeland tried on a variety of musical guises.

But their songs have held up very well after all these years, and Tuesday's performance showed that they are finding new ways of playing some of the old songs. And they hinted that there are some exciting possibilities for music yet to come.

The Police set opened with 'Message In A Bottle' and stuck strictly to songs that can be found on any of their post-breakup hits collections.

No solo stuff. No covers. Just the songs that made them famous.

Some, like 'Roxanne', 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', 'King of Pain' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' stuck mostly to the original script. Others, including a slower, reggaefied 'The Bed's Too Big Without You', were substantially overhauled with mixed results.

'Bed' sounded more like a work in progress that didn't quite work. It must be something with which they are tinkering every show to see where the three of them can take it.

They are a band again, but a band that's learning to grow in front of our very eyes. It's kind of exciting to think that a group that appeared long dead could actually come out of creative hibernation and make durable music again.

(c) The Flint Journal by Doug Pullen



Police get over issues, rock Palace - After bitter breakup in '80s, pop trio performs hits like 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'...

It's easy to be cynical about the Police reunion tour, a grossly overpriced affair which reunites the legendary trio after bitter infighting sent them their separate ways in the early 1980s.

But Tuesday at The Palace of Auburn Hills before a capacity crowd of approximately 20,000, it was clear singer/bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland have at least temporarily buried their differences and are back to being a well-oiled musical machine. So what if it took millions of dollars and tour sponsor Best Buy to get them there?

Tuesday's tour stop came 29 dates into a run that will bring them around the world for the next 12 months, and the famously contentious band members have clearly found a comfortable on-stage groove with one another. Oftentimes that involved them doing their own thing during the 1-hour, 50-minute show, but when they interacted with one another, that's when the sparks flew.

A medley of 'Voices in My Head' and 'When the World is Running Down...', both from 1980's 'Zenyatta Mondatta', built to an electrifying crescendo - four songs in, it was the first time the band truly jammed together -and the individuals' mutual respect for one another was apparent and undeniable. When Sting and Summers stood side by side while Summers burned through a fiery solo, the moment lived up to the tour's huge billing.

Later, a moody, slowed-down 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' cooly washed over the audience while Copeland stood inside a mini-percussion chamber behind his drumkit, playing chimes, cymbals, and Timpani drums, not to mention a giant gong.

Still, not every little thing they did was magic. 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' was a giant fun-stopper in the middle of the set, drawn out with Sting's laborious world music chanting. Elsewhere, 'Invisible Sun' unfolded as images of impoverished children flashed on the video screens - a predictable ''serious'' moment that attempted to be weighty but came off as cliche.

And on several hits, including 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'Every Little Thing...', the mighty trio was outmatched by years of endless playback on FM radio; at this point, there was little the Police could do to bring new life to these overly familiar standards. Meanwhile, an attempt to spice up radio staple 'Roxanne' with a free association jazz centerpiece was misguided, and came off no better than it did earlier this year at the Grammys.

In a cut-off white V-neck T-shirt and tight black jeans, Sting looked amazing - his body is an advertisement for yoga - and was in good voice, even if his upper register can't go where it used to. Early on he reminisced playing a show at Bookie's in Detroit in 1978, saying there were only three people there, ''and one of them was the agent.''

But it was Copeland who frequently stole the show. Behind his kit, mouth agape and his floppy hair falling over his black headband, it was tough to take your eyes off him, as he drove songs such as 'Walking in Your Footsteps' and 'Can't Stand Losing You' to muscular heights.

The oval-shaped stage allowed nearly every seat in the house to be sold, and the audience was filled with middle-aged rockers and corporate types who were able to not only afford the $200-plus tickets but a sitter.

In a blatant display of nepotism, Sting's son Joe Sumner's band Fiction Plane opened the concert as crowds filed in from the parking lot. But with their wandering alt-rock serving as little more than passable background music, it's doubtful Best Buy will be shelling out for their reunion tour in 30 years.

(c) Detroit News by Adam Graham



Police reunion show preserves rockers' legacy...

It's been a while since we've seen a band put its legacy on the line like this.

With their 2007 reunion tour, the Police became one of the last of rock's big holdouts to reassemble and give the reputation a whirl while giving long-hungry fans some relief. And as they arrived at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday night, the superstar trio brought one big question: In dusting off the old body of work, would the band find something new and sparkling, or reveal a banged-up antique?

Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland got down to business with a bang, ramping up with energetic takes on 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II' - crisp, clean and potent renditions of upbeat, timeless rockers. Before a generation-spanning, hard-drinking crowd of more than 20,000 - fortysomethings checking in with the babysitter, twentysomethings fresh from Monday's Nickelback show - Sting wryly acknowledged the group's inaugural Detroit club show in 1978: ''You were all too young to be there, of course.''

On songs such as 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', the trio feinted right and dribbled left, reshaping the arrangements and recoloring the tones. Those maneuvers, met with ambivalence by the sold-out crowd, were a limited success; too often they felt like forced efforts to stave off accusations that the Police were staging a thoughtless oldies party.

Fears that the show would be Stung, marked by the more feathery vibe of the bassist's later solo career, were occasionally justified. Proficient but often low on passion, the performance had an anemic feel even on more adventurous readings of such songs as 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' and 'Walking in Your Footsteps'. Sloppy moments cropped up as the band sought loose improvisation.

The band redeemed itself with straight-to-the-midsection versions of uptempo material like 'Can't Stand Losing You' and 'Roxanne' as the 2-hour set headed into its homestretch, and intricate, hot breakdowns in such tunes as 'The World Is Running Down' brought more discerning concertgoers to their feet.

In the end, 24 years to the month since the band's last Detroit show, it FELT like the Police: Squint hard enough, and Copeland's hair was still blond, Summers was still trim, and Sting - well, has Sting aged? For their part, the band appeared in good spirits, exchanging grins and collectively locking into the musical sixth sense they willingly abandoned so many years ago.

The Police, well into a tour that will stretch into '08, left the Palace with legacy intact - treated with kid gloves, for better or worse, but undamaged nonetheless.

(c) Detroit Free Press by Brian McCollum

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