SHOW REVIEW

Police reunion solid, sometimes spectacular...

Fans always hope super groups will reunite, but when the list of those who truly can is surprisingly short. Sure, you can call it a reunion with a couple of key members and a band full of ringers and substitutes, but very few groups still have their genuine core members still a) alive, and b) in strong musical shape.

That's why news of The Police reunion sent a bit of an earthquake through the concert world this year, on par with Pink Floyd's too-short four-song reunion at Live 8.

While The Police of 2007 doesn't quite blaze with the intensity of those 1979 bootlegs of theirs, they did have a remarkable intensity at times Saturday night.

There was apparently no cheating; no backing singers, no extra instrumentalists, no backing tracks or samples were noticeable. Just Sting on bass, Andy Summers on guitar and Stewart Copeland on drums. You'd expect them to ably recreate songs such as 'Message In A Bottle' that were originally played that way, but they were equally adept at bringing life to more musically complex pieces such as 'Synchronicity II' (the second song played and possibly their best, filled with slashing Summers guitar), 'Invisible Sun' and a minimalist 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'.

What mattered to fans in the packed arena was it was these guys, playing those songs, and man, were there ever a lot of those songs. A lavish technological setup on an oval stage never took the focus off the three musicians in its center, looking intently into each other's eyes and recreating the chemistry that made them the biggest band in the world.

It wasn't until you saw Sting play these songs with other guys on his solo tours that you truly appreciated the distinctive, irreplaceable sound Summers and Copeland gave to the originals. That fire returned with amazing run-throughs of 'When the World is Running Down', 'Walking On The Moon' and 'Can't Stand Losing You', songs that drove the audience nuts. All three appeared very happy to be there, with Summers and Copeland looking particularly pleased and grateful

The Police have more great songs than can fit in a single concert. 'Demolition Man', 'Canary in a Coalmine' and 'Tea in the Sahara' would have been welcome had there been room.

There were missteps; I'd rather not hear 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' at all rather than have them play a tepid version close to the '85 remake they did of it. 'Spirits in the Material World' came across disjointed. 'Roxanne', as always, annoyed. Overall, though, certainly one of the more real and successful reunions in years.

(c) The Rocky Mountain News by Evan Semon



Police return for better, worse...

Acting much like they did in the early '80s, the reunited trio proves itself able to keep the crowd on its feet in spite of some rough patches.

While The Police will never go down in the annals of great rock 'n' roll bands, they still created their own important niche in the history books - and it's a legacy that will remain intact, even after the U.K. band's epic world tour that played the Pepsi Center on Saturday and will play there again tonight.

Drummer Stewart Copeland, guitarist Andy Summers and bassist-vocalist Sting laid down an impressively varied set on Saturday that proved the band's mighty muscle, from the sprawling reggae-kissed anthem 'I Can't Stand Losing You' to the blatant jazziness of 'Roxanne'. The trio has its issues after not playing together regularly for more than two decades, but it was mostly tight in the hits-packed set that kept the crowd on its feet for most of two hours.

Perhaps most interesting was the on-stage role each musician plays - and how those roles have barely changed since the '80s. The parakeet-like Sting is the buoyantly effervescent leader, bopping about while tugging on his ancient, ratty bass.

The ever-nimble Copeland is like an overgrown kid behind the kit with his blue jersey, black headband, white gloves and always-stupefied look. Summers is the disaffected one, standing mostly motionless at his stage left position, occasionally looking down to his guitar and sometimes mouthing Sting's lyrics to keep his place.

The group started sloppily with 'Message In A Bottle', but they were locked in by the third chorus. They flirted with jammy experimentation toward the end of the song, but we knew that was going to be a major part of the band's ''reunion sound'' after its YouTuberific set at the Grammys. Thankfully the band didn't indulge its fusion-world tendencies too often.

The jokes were the same as at all the previous dates. Early in the set, Sting quipped, ''I'd like to introduce the band - Andy, this is Stewart.''

One of the band's most lasting songs, 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', was performed as an intimate whisper rather than the impassioned cry of the original album version, and while it was interesting at first, the presentation grew old - as did the late-set funk of 'Roxanne'.

But most of the songs stood as sterling examples of the band's relevance. 'Walking On The Moon' was an easy groover concerned with nothing other than making the crowd sing along. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' was thrown down as a bright Caribbean-affected blast of sunshine, and the band's lack of pretension was as welcome as their addictively youthful energy.

(c) The Denver Post by Ricardo Baca



Police reunion hits high, low notes...

It's one of the summer's biggest tours - and one of the most expensive, with good seats fetching more than $200. But longtime fans who caught the Police reunion tour Saturday at the Pepsi Center may have felt they got less than their money's worth, as the band fumbled through many of its best known tunes and at times seemed to be playing in at least two different keys.

The trio took the stage around 8:45 p.m. with drummer Stewart Copeland banging a giant gong as singer/bassist Sting and guitarist Andy Summers filed onstage and launched into 'Message In A Bottle'. The sing-along single garnered huge cheers from the sell-out crowd, but the sound mix buried Summers' guitar. The atmospheric rocker 'Synchronicity II' showed what a big sound the three could make that Summers seemed to have a hard time figuring out where to put his singers on the fretboard, playing out of time and key with the rest of the band.

The band started to gel better as the night went on, but new arrangements of old favorites such as 'Truth Hits Everybody' and 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' - reworked in some cases so that Sting didn't have to reach as far for the high note - robbed the tunes of their power.

Not that the show wasn't without its high points - an upbeat 'Can't Stand Losing You' showed the band at its energetic, stripped-down best, 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' saw the first appearance of Copeland's giant percussion riser, full of hanging cymbals and toys and kettle drums. The mostly instrumental 'Reggatta De Blanc' was a highlight as well, a powerful sing-along that demonstrated the band's instrumental prowess.

It wasn't a perfect show, to be sure, but the cheering fans - many of them aging Gen-Xers who no doubt grew up on the band's five albums - were willing to forgive the Police any off moments, singing their hearts out to favorites like 'Roxanne' and 'Walking On The Moon'.

Dressed in a white tank-top and loose-fitting black pants - his yoga-toned body much on display - Sting, 54, was in fine, full voice and exuded the charisma that made him leader of the band way back when - and led to his successful solo career. Though it must have been tempting for him to add some of his solo material to the set - or at the very least to use some of the lite-jazz arrangements of Police tunes he perfected after the band broke up - he didn't, to his credit.

In a February press conference announcing the show, the band vowed to go it as a trio, not relying on any back-up musicians or vocalists. In the end, maybe that wasn't such a great idea. While the guitar-bass-drums lineup performed admirably on many tunes, songs like 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Spirits in the Material World' cried out for keys and back-up singers. A few extra players could have elevated the show to something really special.

The Police last toured in 1983 for their 'Synchronicity' album; the band re-united earlier this year for a tour that will take it to six continents. Saturday's Denver show was the first of two at the Pepsi Center. Tickets remain for tonight's show.

(c) The Boulder Camera by Greg Glasgow

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