Aug
01
2008

Saratoga, NY, US (Saratoga Performing Arts Centre )

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With Elvis Costello & The Imposters

SHOW REVIEW

Thousands captured by Police at SPAC...

It was played up as one of the biggest shows to hit the area this year. The announcement came months ahead of time, and people eagerly shelled out hundreds to get a ticket.

Those same people endured horrendous traffic jams around Saratoga Performing Arts Center, jockeyed for position on the lawn or fought their way through the crowd to make it into the amphitheater and sat through a sultry, but dry, Friday night.

So the question remains - was The Police worth the hype?

In a word - absolutely.

Opener Elvis Costello and The Imposters warmed up the excited crowd (at least those who weren't still stuck in traffic) with a 45-minute set. He was well-received as he performed 'Pump It Up', 'Radio Radio', 'Every day I Write the Book' and '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding', among others.

But it was obvious the fans wanted The Police as they erupted in cheers when Sting joined Costello on stage for 'Alison'.

This was the first (and will most likely be the last) time local fans had a chance to see Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland together on SPAC's stage.

The band pulled an 18-song, 90-minute set together, performing hits from every album, including 'Message In A Bottle', 'Walking On The Moon', 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' and 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da'.

It was impossible to not sing along. And Sting encouraged it, often prompting the crowd to clap along as well, at one point saying, 'With 20,000 New Yorkers out there, I want to see 40,000 hands up there.'

They even dug a little deeper into their immensely popular catalog with such songs as 'Voices in My Head', 'Demolition Man' and 'Hole in My Life'.

Copeland and Summers did get an opportunity to showcase their talents at various points, but it was Sting who stole the show. The scruffy, yet svelte frontman often engaged the crowd, making SPAC feel much more intimate. It was a real treat for the fans, since a band of this stature would normally be reserved for a much larger venue.

The stage set was nothing spectacular, but the fans didn't need visual aids. They just wanted the band to play. The diverse crowd ranged from children to senior citizens (yes, seniors!) and they stood throughout the night, absorbing every bit of musical history in the making.

The only lull of the evening came with 'Invisible Sun', which featured images of children whose haunting eyes stared at the camera in the most heart-wrenching fashion.

It was perhaps the band's way of bringing the charity Unitus to light during the show. Proceeds from the tour benefit the organization, which is working to stamp out worldwide poverty. There were no pleas from Sting, but the eyes of the children said a mouthful.

Things did pick up again as The Police launched into a five-song double encore, beginning with 'Roxanne'. Lights from the stage bathed the crowd in the infamous 'red light' as they sang along.

The encore continued with 'King of Pain', 'So Lonely' and 'Every Breath You Take'. As they exited the stage, fans stayed put, hoping for just one more. And perhaps most apropos, the band's last song of what is one of the last shows they are ever expected to play together was the first track from the first album.

'Next To You' came with a montage of images from the band's career, blazing across the screen. It was a fitting end to a trip back in time.

The band wraps up its 14-month reunion tour in a few days with a special show at Madison Square Garden. As the tour goes into the musical history books, the 20,000-plus fans in Saratoga can say, 'I was there.'

(c) The Saratogian by Deanna Amore



The Police, Elvis Costello put on stellar show at SPAC...

Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland have said that their current tour will be their last as The Police. Judging by their performance at Saratoga Performing Arts Center Friday night, that's certainly a crying shame.

Playing to a crowd of roughly 40,000, the group sounded as if it had never broken up after 1983's 'Synchronicity'. Clearly, the boys have done some serious practicing in order to pull this reunion together and sound this great.

Opening to massive applause with 'Message In A Bottle', Sting and company proceeded to pummel the audience with tracks from each of their five studio records. The only one to really receive short shrift was debut 'Outlandos d'Amour', although the band naturally played 'Roxanne' during the encore, and threw in 'So Lonely' mid-encore, and a vamped version of 'Can't Stand Losing You' to close out the set proper.

Although the band might have been lacking some of the youthful energy of its heyday, this isn't even really a complaint (come on, that was like, 20 years ago). They more than made up for it with tight, impassioned performances. Sting was clearly the focal point here, forcefully bellowing the lyrics to songs such as 'Walking On The Moon' and 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' and running about the stage, at times sneaking up behind guitarist Summers.

Speaking of Summers, he had numerous moments to shine as well. His solo on 'When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Around' in particular ripped quite nicely. And let's not forget Copeland, whose coup de grace came during the tribal beats of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' later in the set.

If any complaint could be made, it's that the band didn't play long enough; the initial set lasted only an hour, although the encores lasted a good half-hour. The band's set was polished and concise, lacking somewhat in spontaneity, although at this point in the game these guys don't really need to be spontaneous.

Contrast this to Elvis Costello, whose short, yet meaty 12-song set was comparatively raw. Costello concentrated heavily on his hits, although he did find space for songs from his latest effort, 'Momofuku'.

As the album recalls Costello's gritty garage heyday, performances of songs such as 'American Gangster Time' and 'Flutter and Wow' fit in quite nicely alongside more established material such as 'Pump it Up', performed early on in the set.

The best moments, however, coincided with Costello's best. A rapid fire, frenetic 'Radio, Radio' received massive crowd approval; the only complaint was that it was over too soon. 'Watching the Detectives' became the set's centerpiece, prominently featuring Costello's grinding noise guitar lead.

Costello saved the best for his last three songs, inviting Sting up to perform on an emotional reading of 'Alison'. A tense performance of 'Go Away', from 'Momofuku', followed close behind, and by the time

Costello launched into 'What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding', the crowd had been whipped up into a sufficient frenzy. The song built to a deafening close, with drummer Pete Thomas, bassist Davey Faragher, keyboardist Steve Nieve and Costello pounding away at the closing notes of the song with vicious, animalistic power.

(c) Daily Gazette by Brian McElhiney



Police fans' dream farewell...

'The question is do you want to sing with me tonight?'

Sting didn't really need to ask, but the crowd roared back in the affirmative.

'There are 20,000 of you out there tonight, so I wanna see 40,000 hands in the air,' he added, like some kind of cheerleader.

Again the crowd didn't need much coaxing. They were packed into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for one reason... to see the reunited Police before their 14-month reunion tour comes to an end next week.

From Stewart Copeland's opening bang on a five-foot gong, the Police could do no wrong, and the enthusiastic crowd was on its feet all night long... cheering, dancing and singing along with nearly all of the hits that the British rock trio dredged up from their career days (1977-85).

Launching the night with the reggae-laced 'Message In A Bottle' and the dreamy, shimmering 'Walking On The Moon', it was clear that bassist-vocalist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland were in fine form. Despite Sting's scraggly salt and pepper beard, his voice was strong and supple, easily reaching for the high notes and holding them with surprising command.

This wasn't merely a nostalgia show, and more than a few in the crowd had already seen the band several times since they kicked off their reunion tour back in May 2007. The music sounded fresh and exciting, whether it was the hammering power-trio riffing of 'Demolition Man', the crowd-pleasing pop of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' or the tightly woven, jazz-flecked ensemble work of 'Driven To Tears'.

Copeland was a stand-out all night long, and he made the most of his moment in the spotlight for a slinky, exotic re-arrangement of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', flailing away at an array of percussion instruments from chiming temple bells to thundering tympani.

It's been 30 long years since the Police made their Capital Region debut at the long-defunct Hulla Baloo nightclub in Rensselaer, and if Friday night's show wasn't quite as exciting as that one, it was at least a fine and fitting farewell.

Elvis Costello opened the show with an impressive, 55-minute set that saw him sprinkling in some sparkling new tunes from his latest album, 'Momofuku', along with a well-chosen batch of old favorites. Despite some equipment problems... both his amplifier and his microphone had to be replaced mid-show... Costello and his band (bassist Davey Faragher, drummer Pete Thomas and the inventive keyboardist Steve Nieve) ripped through 'Radio, Radio', 'Every Day I Write the Book' and 'Pump It Up'.

The clattering 'Lipstick Vogue' (with Nieve on theremin) and the carnival-noir deconstruction of 'Watching the Detectives' were the highlights, although the crowd roared the loudest for the ballad 'Alison', performed as a duet with Costello and Sting.

In fact, Costello and the Imposters were so good that it was hard to believe that they were the opening act.

(c) Albany Times Union by Greg Haymes



The Police are a reunion worth waiting for...

I've never been more bummed about waiting in traffic.

I waited for two hours on Route 9 in Saratoga Springs while the rest of the county listened to Elvis Costello rip up the stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Friday night.

While I made it into the arena for a stellar, yet final, performance of '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding', rumour has it that I missed all the night's show-stoppers including 'Radio Radio', 'Pump it up', 'Watching the Detectives' and a version of 'Alison' that required assistance from Sting.

Bummer.

No matter. There were other things to be excited about.

The power trio of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland took the stage like a weather system. The roar of the crowd, deep enough to trickle onto the pathway near the vendor stands, could most likely be heard two towns over.

They opened with 'Message In A Bottle' and followed up with 'Walking On The Moon'. Sting took advantage of the crowd's unconditional affection, beginning a call and answer sing-along.

It is a joy to watch the artists perform. For a moment, you get swept up in how complex and talented the bass player is - and then, like an elastic snap, you remember you're watching Sting.

Andy Summers is a master of chordal tonality and Stewart Copeland bangs the kit with the elation of a school boy.

Speaking of school boys, as a preface to 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', Sting reminded the audience that at one time or another he was a school teacher with a mortgage and a pension. In his own words, 'What the (expletive) happened?'

Greatness, that's what.

The audience was on its feet through most of the night, assuaged by performances of 'Demolition Man' and 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'.

It is difficult to summarize bearing witness to greatness. The Police are captivating.

Thank God for reunions.

(c) Glen Falls Post-Star by Ce Skidmore

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