The Police Take a Final Bow in New York City...
As the final notes of 'Next To You' filled the Madison Square Garden air in New York tonight, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers and Sting held hands and took one final bow as the Police. Someone dressed as an obese opera singer took the stage behind them, and the fat lady literally sang as the Looney Tunes music began playing. As Sting did a goofy dance, Porky Pig spoke: 'Obley, obley, obley... That's all folks.' Sting strode up to the mike as his bandmates began walking offstage. 'Madison Square Garden!' he yelled. 'Center of the city, center of the world! Goodnight!' Thus marked the end of the 150th and final gig of the Police's 15-month reunion/farewell tour in which they played to 3.7 million people - and made nearly $386 million.
The night didn't begin so smoothly. As opposed to the standard opener of 'Message In A Bottle', the band began with a dreadful cover of Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love'. It was nice to pay homage to another famously embattled trio who also ended a series of recent reunion gigs at Madison Square Garden, but classic rock covers clearly aren't their forte. Things picked up quickly when the New York City Police Marching Band took the stage and pounded away 'Tusk'-style on 'Message In A Bottle'. From here their massive catalog of hits started pouring out fast and furiously: 'Walking On The Moon', 'Invisible Sun', 'Can't Stand Losing You' and so on. Sting's daughters danced near their father during 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. Barely pausing between numbers, the band ran through the show oddly quickly. The whole thing was a hair under two hours.
Before playing the naughty schoolgirl anthem 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', Sting looked back at his pre-Policeman days. 'Before I took this job I worked as a teacher at a convent in England,' he said. 'I was the only man. I had a pension, a mortgage... What the fuck happened to me?' What happened was he met an American drummer named Stewart Copeland and started what became one of the most massive bands in history. They broke up at their stadium-packing peak in 1984 and Sting insisted for decades they'd never reform. Throughout the night Sting looked happy he changed his mind, or maybe he was just happy the whole thing was nearly over.
After the main set, a backstage camera showed an extremely bearded Sting laying back in a barber chair. Two blonde women began furiously shaving his beard with an electric razor, while men shined his shoes and gave him a manicure. When the hair was short enough they coated his face with shaving cream and used a disposable razor to finish the job ('C'mon, use a straight razor!' yelled a guy near me.) Midway through Stewart Copeland gave him a kiss on the lips. Do they really actually like each other, or is it all an act? It's impossible to know for sure. 'It's been a huge honor to get back with my old friends,' Sting said earlier in the night. 'The triumph of this tour is that we haven't strangled each other - not to say it hasn't crossed my mind.' Farewell tours are a longtime joke in rock & roll (the Who are about to launch their seventh post-'farewell tour' tour), but it seems likely this is really it for the Police. In many ways, they went out on top.
(c) Rolling Stone by Andy Greene
A Police Tour That Ends on Good Terms...
The final concert by the Police, at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, could have felt like any number of things: a victory lap, a spectacle, a backward glance, an amen. It was all of the above to one degree or another, but what it ultimately suggested was the last day of school. At the close of a reunion tour that stretched past a year, reaching well over three million fans and earning more than $350 million, this three-piece rock band seemed not only festive but also relieved, and frankly giddy at the prospect of freedom.
The Police performed with the New York City Police Department Band near the start of the show on Thursday, for a beefed-up version of 'Message In A Bottle'.
'It's been a huge honor to get back together,' a full-bearded Sting said several songs into the show, before thanking the group's drummer, Stewart Copeland, and its guitarist, Andy Summers, 'for your musicianship, your companionship, your friendship, your understanding, your patience with me.' Have a nice summer, he could have added.
Instead he sounded a note of jocular confession: 'The real triumph of this tour is that we haven't strangled each other.' Not that it hadn't crossed their minds, he added. The crowd roared knowingly, well versed in the history of a band that broke up in 1984, at the pinnacle of its success, in a bitter haze of clashing egos.
So the tour, which began in May 2007, has apparently been more of a diplomatic rapprochement than a sentimental journey. But it has also been a chance for the band to revisit its pioneering sound, a sparse but kinetic hybrid of reggae, punk and new wave that conquered charts and airwaves from the late 1970s to the mid-'80s. The grand finale on Thursday, a benefit for the New York public television stations WNET and WLIW, was no different in that regard: it confirmed the unusual chemistry that always bonded these artists, musically if not personally.
Along with most of its bigger hits, like the tersely reverberant 'Walking On The Moon', the band played a handful of less celebrated tracks, including 'Hole in My Life', a jaunty complaint, and 'Demolition Man', a hard-charging boast. Social commentary arrived in the form of songs like 'Driven To Tears' and 'Invisible Sun'.
There was ample opportunity to savour the atmospheric and judicious guitar playing of Mr. Summers, and the propulsive, breezily intricate drumming of Mr. Copeland. Of course Sting's soaring vocals were front and center throughout, as were his mostly durable songs.
In a nod to the setting, the group welcomed nearly two dozen members of the New York City Police Department band near the start of the show, for a souped-up version of 'Message In A Bottle'. This did nothing to improve the song, but it was welcome stagecraft, even if Sting looked patently silly in a police cap.
There were other anomalies. The opener was 'Sunshine of Your Love', and the first encore was 'Purple Haze'. This was a nod to two other lean and flexible rock trios: Cream, which had its own blockbuster reunion not long ago, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, which never got the chance. Obviously the Police were staking a claim here, and the point was well taken, though neither cover felt half as strong as the original.
Sting had other points to make. Introducing 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', he recalled his early career as a schoolteacher, mock-lamenting his wayward path as a rock star. This would have been insufferably smug, if not for the tableau presented before the encore: after leaving the stage, Sting settled into a backstage barber's chair backstage, preposterously, for a shave and a manicure. His shirtless image, projected onto the large screen above the stage, elicited hoots and cheers, especially when Mr. Copeland entered the frame to deliver a kiss on the lips. Everyone was in on the joke.
But the concert's closing moments - involving a crew member in costume as the fat lady singing, and an audio clip of Porky Pig stammering 'That's all, Folks' - came across like a fizzy drink with a bitter aftertaste. It was a prankish, almost flippant way to go, but its sharp ambivalence felt totally honest.
(c) New York Times by Nate Chinen
Police and thank you... Grand Finale at Garden...
If you expected a bittersweet symphony at the Police retirement bash at Madison Square Garden last night, you'd have been disappointed. The final Police concert - ever - was more celebration than wake.
Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland - the trio who shattered at the top of their game in 1984 and regrouped 16 months ago for this reunion tour - played a great show as their last hurrah.
Sting, one of the least sentimental men in rock, was unmoved by the gravity of the moment, telling the house, 'It's been a huge honor to be back with my friends. We played 150 gigs and we didn't strangle each other - not that we didn't think about it.'
Mayor Bloomberg, nestled in a row of his own in Section 80, sat sphinx-like for most of the show, hardly nodding his noggin' - but even he cracked a smile at that.
Sting's humor aside, the big difference between the start of the Police tour and now was the camaraderie. Last night, they were brothers - no tension, no sniping, just three pals playing a bunch of jazzy, reggae-flavored party tunes.
Besides the historic nature of the event, and the unity of the band, its quality was also due to the fact they didn't treat their classics like museum pieces. With little respect to studio arrangements, the band had fun with their music, tinkering with tempos, extending solos and jamming.
The band played all the old songs, like the opener, 'Message In A Bottle', as well as 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', 'Walking On The Moon', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and the silly but lovable 'De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da', introduced with a few bars of the equally silly oldie 'Do Wah Diddy'' This was an all-thriller, no-filler program that had the fans on their feet swaying to the reggae beats and singing along to the reedy vocals of Sting at nearly every turn.
There were subdued moments - especially during the moody love songs, like 'Driven To Tears' - but those were few.
And then there was Sting. Maybe it's all that tantric sex, but the singer/bassist seems unchanged by time. Sure, there's gray in his beard - which he oddly took care of between songs by shaving it off. But he's trim and athletic, and his voice still has the ability to hit the same highs and lows of his youth.
When the band broke up in the '80s, they petered out with a whimper. If this is, in fact, the last Police show ever, the boys managed to close the book at Madison Square Garden with a bang.
(c) New York Post by Dan Aquilante
Police Have Close Shave At Their Last-Ever Concert. Sting reduced to stubble in intermission ritual...
Sting marked the end of the year-and-a-half-long Police reunion tour Thursday night by shaving off his tour beard before the marveling eyes of a sold-out house at Madison Square Garden. I think that's what was going on anyway.
After an hour of vintage hits, the bassist and his accumulation of salt-and-pepper facial scrub left the stage - along with bandmates Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, of course - to await the traditional audience demand for an encore. After a few minutes, the big video screen above the stage blinked back on, and we saw Sting, now fetchingly bare-chested, stretched out in a backstage makeup chair while two women with electric clippers set about buzzing off the famous beard. Out front, the crowd watched in something like wonder. You could feel their hopes rise after the women reduced the foliage to a modest stubble and snicked off their trimmers; and you could feel them subside again when one of the amateur barbers slopped a large handful of shaving cream onto Sting's face and the process continued, this time with razors. I thought to myself, 'People will pay to see anything.'
The whole ritual took less time than one might have feared, although more than one would have preferred, and when it was over, the band returned and played for another half hour. After 150 shows, they were in top form. (I would personally pay money to watch Copeland geniusing around on drums in an otherwise empty room.) The 18,000-some people on hand - who stayed on their feet through the whole concert - loved it loudly.
There was one other unusual moment. It had come earlier, when, in the middle of a song, three girls stepped out onto the side of the stage and began shimmying with abandon. These were not the sort of dancers one usually sees disporting themselves behind singers who aren't actually singing. No, these were clearly civilians. And when they were joined by two boys entering from the other side of the stage, it became clear that they were all offspring of the stars. It was very sweet. When the song ended and the kids scampered away, Sting stepped to the mike and said, 'Between us we must have 21 children.' Then he said - and this was the unusual part - 'We've been on tour for 30 years.' I don't know what anyone else made of this, but I wondered to myself, 'What, uh, does he mean by that?'
(c) MTV by Kurt Loder
The Police bow out in style...
And so the comeback has gone. On Thursday night in New York, 19,000 ecstatic fans witnessed The Police finally say farewell with a raucous, two-hour concert in the city where the band first played in the US thirty years ago.
At least, they promised this is a final farewell but rockers have a way of being persuaded back to the stage if enough people clap and the cheering among this middle-aged crowd was loud from the moment Sting appeared and barely diminished through the final bow.
It is easy to understand the adulation. The fans were mostly teenagers when The Police exploded onto the music scene in 1978. Seeing the band live gave them a chance to leap up and down to hits like 'Roxanne', 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Walking On The Moon' like the kids they were.
And even though Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland have lost the high-wired vibrancy of their heyday, the three are such accomplished musicians they succeeded in making each song seem authentically alive.
Summers may have the jowly slowness of a secondary school dinner lady, but the man is a magician with his guitar. Copeland plays the drums with the energy of an eight-year-old and Sting, for all the annoyances of these last two lute-filled decades, has a voice quite unlike any other which has held up gorgeously well.
(c) Daily Telegraph by Tim Geary
The Police's 'last' gig provides plenty of thrills - and NYPD's marching band...
The Police brought a sense of fun to Madison Square Garden for their final concert.
When it comes to retirement, pop stars break more promises than politicians.
See Streisand, Bowie, Cher.
But The Police swear - really they do - that Thursday night's performance at the Garden was their absolute swan song.
If so, they went out on a playful note they can be proud of.
From the show's start, the trio struck a less than reverent tone, opening with a surprise cover of Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love', and closing with the 'Looney Tunes' theme.
You could view the first move as a historically minded nod to the band that pioneered their power-trio format, especially since The Police chose a parallel song for their first encore: Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'.
But it seemed more like just a way for them to act like the world's biggest bar band for a night.
Though The Police have been snaking around the world for over a year, Thursday night's 150th gig had an appealing looseness.
For a surprise kick, the band brought out the NYPD marching band to bolster the beat of 'Message In A Bottle'. Otherwise, they mainly stuck with a set list that has changed little since they started.
One fiddle this time: Thursday night's show doubled as a benefit, with part of the profits going to the city's PBS stations, and another part earmarked for planting 1 million new trees around the city.
To break things up, Sting sang around the melodies of many songs, adding flashes of freshness, if sometimes at the cost of intensity.
Andy Summers took more fruitful liberties with his solos, adding a rich swirl of sound to 'Driven To Tears', and an especially ornery run to 'When the World Is Running Down', both grounded by Sting's driving bass lines.
All the best songs underscored the wisdom of the band's essential notion - to harden and speed up one of the world's most sensual and leisurely beats (reggae), then match it to easy pop tunes.
It's a sound they were smart to bring back after 25 years away. Let's hope they break their promise and do so yet again.
(c) New York Daily News by Jim Farber
Police Rock New York With Farewell Concert, Sting Gets Shaved...
The Police kicked off their farewell concert in New York's Madison Square Garden last night with a nod to another iconic rock trio, Cream, throwing down an intense cover of 'Sunshine of Your Love'.
Then they got down to business.
With the New York City Police Department Band onstage for backup, banks of lights descended, Sting put a cop cap on his head and the Police flew 'Message In A Bottle' into high gear, accompanied word for word by the delirious fans.
That was hello.
Sting announced: 'We are the Police.'
More delirium followed.
It was a night of ecstatic call and response, as Sting yodeled the arcs of sound that punctuate so many Police songs, thrown immediately back at him by the crowd, starting with, once the NYPDers departed, 'Walking On The Moon'.
Columns capped with blue spotlights rose up, circling the back of the oval stage, lending a bit of a mini-Coliseum look to the platform, open all round as tickets were sold to every seat in this fundraiser for public television.
Video monitors helped those in the nosebleed sections. Sting took what might have been a victory walk around the stage's perimeter, at this, the final show of the band's Reunion tour and the band's promised farewell from live performing.
Sting, 56, still mainly blond of hair but gray of beard, vegan of diet and yoga trim, was in top form and fine voice. Stewart Copeland, also 56, looked prepped for the marathon of percussion ahead of him, sweatband under a mop of hair, bespectacled and white gloved; Andy Summers, 65, sported an extra chin but held his own and then some, on guitar.
And they were just getting warmed up. More calling out to the audience followed as Sting was clearly relishing every moment.
'When the World Is Running Down' came next, then Sting thanked his band mates for their musicianship, their companionship and 'your patience with me.'
He told the audience they had played 150 gigs, before 3.7 million people, on this Reunion Tour (which brought in $350 million) 'and tonight you represent all those people,'' he added, 'so thank you.'
At this ending moment for the Police, Sting took a moment to reminisce about his pre-rock star life.
'I was a school teacher in a convent, with a pension plan and I thought 'What the [expletive] am I doing?''' That tidbit turned out to be a segue into the 'Lolita''-inspired 'Don't Stand So Close to Me',' as lights flooded the stage a deep metallic red.
'Driven To Tears', 'Invisible Sun' and 'Every Little Things She Does Is Magic' - were among the Police standards they performed.
'If I was to say 'Yeah!' to you,'' Sting called out, 'What would you say?''
'Yeah!' they responded, of course. Again he asked, to a louder reply. The third time they sent an even higher vocal blast of 'Yeah!' back to him as he roared gutturally into 'Hole in My Life', a song from the first Police album 30 years ago that lost none of its deep, driving beat as the lyrics rose and fell.
Then came a quick cut to 'Can't Stand Losing You', during which Sting shouted, 'OK, New York, this is the last time we are going to do this,' and the audience joined in to end the song with a deafening roar.
The show over, Sting left the stage and the audience watched on video as a pair of blondes in little black dresses proceeded to shave the now shirtless star's beard off, first electric razors, then shaving cream and blades.
Meanwhile, Summers returned to stage and started slamming chords on his guitar as a summons to the other two. Sting was getting his nails done. Another guitar summons, then another and finally Sting was back on, still shirtless, now with a guitar slung around his shoulders.
They laid down Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze' and then turned to 'Roxanne', soaring through six encores that ended with 'Next To You'.
The B-52's opened the show in tighter form than their Halloween Roseland appearance last year. Hits - 'Love Shack', 'Rock Lobster' and 'Give Me Back My Man' among them - all got a great reception, as did their new songs.
(c) Bloomberg by Michael Killeen
The Police Call It A Career At New York Show...
The reunited Police took a final bow last night (Aug. 7) at New York's Madison Square Garden, capping a 151-show tour that will finish as the third highest-grossing of all time with $358,825,665 at the box office, according to Billboard Boxscore.
Tickets could only be obtained via donation to local public television stations Thirteen/WNET and WLIW21.
Bassist/vocalist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland began the proceedings with a surprise cover of Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love'. Afterward, the New York Police Department band augmented normal set-opener 'Message In A Bottle'.
There was only an intermittent amount of sentimentality to the show, with Sting at one point telling the crowd, 'It's been a huge honor to get back with my good friends. The real triumph of this tour is that we haven't strangled each other - that doesn't mean it hadn't crossed my mind.'
But for the men on stage, it was clearly special. Sting's daughters danced with him on stage during 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', and a grinning Sting got so close to Summers as to whisper in his ear while eating up his solo on 'So Lonely'.
Another twist was saved for the encore, which began with a dexterous run through Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'. Just prior, the video screens revealed that the heavily bearded Sting was being shaved backstage, while simultaneously getting a manicure, pedicure and massage.
The final song was the breakneck 'Next To You', one last reminder of the English band's punk-era roots. At its conclusion, Sting, Summers and Copeland bowed, hugged and jogged off the stage with smiles on their faces, while the proverbial Fat Lady sang and the Looney Tunes theme 'That's All Folks' played through the speakers.
The Police's tour, the band's first performances since 1986, began May 28, 2007, in Vancouver and moved 3,300,912 tickets from 146 shows, plus five festival plays, according to tour producer Live Nation.
The final gross puts it only behind the Rolling Stones' 2005-2007 A Bigger Bang tour ($558 million), and U2's 2005-2007 Vertigo tour ($389 million), and ahead of the Stones' 1994-95 Voodoo Lounge tour ($320 million), according to Boxscore.
The tour, which received top honors at the Billboard Touring Conference & Awards last November, was produced by Live Nation Global Touring chairman Arthur Fogel, and Bill Zysblat, partner at RZO Productions. It will be chronicled on the live CD/DVD 'The Police: Certifiable,' due Oct. 7 exclusively through Best Buy.
'Clearly, they're one of the biggest bands of all time and this tour has just proven how strong an act they are around the world,' Fogel tells Billboard. 'I think they truly enjoyed confirming the legacy of the music and the band.'
(c) Billboard by Jonathan Cohen w/ additional reporting by Ray Waddell
Police wind up reunion concerts...
Rock band The Police have performed the final concert of their reunion tour in New York's Madison Square Garden.
In what is thought to have been their farewell show, frontman Sting thanked his bandmates for their 'musicianship, companionship and understanding'.
It was the 150th show of their reunion tour which has lasted 14 months and was the top-earning tour of 2007.
The band scored a string of hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s and played their first US concert in New York.
The band played at the far smaller CBGB's nightclub in 1978.
Sting told the crowd: 'The real triumph of this tour is that we haven't strangled each other.
'Not to say it hasn't crossed my mind - or Andy's or Stewart's,' he added.
After playing a set that included covers of Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze' and 'Sunshine of Your Love' by Cream, the trio walked off stage to the cartoon signature tune, That's All, Folks.
During the show, Sting removed his shirt and had his greying beard shaved off by some female stylists and was kissed by drummer Stewart Copeland.
The singer was also joined on stage by three of his daughters at one point during the set, while New York City's police band also performed with the group.
The tour, during which the band are estimated to have played to more than three million people, has made $350m (£181m).
(c) BBC News
After a year, The Police end comeback tour in NYC...
The Police ended one of rock 'n' roll's most successful reunions in Madison Square Garden on Thursday with a tribute to other famous trios, an assist from some real cops and a not-particularly close shave.
The 150th and final show of a comeback tour that stretched past 14 months was a benefit for two New York public television stations. Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland added some end-of-the-road silliness to their set list, walking off to Porky Pig's signature line, 'That's all, folks.'
Four songs in, Sting thanked his band mates for 'your musicianship, your companionship, your friendship and your understanding.'
'The real triumph of this tour is that we haven't strangled each other,' he said. 'Not to say it hasn't crossed my mind - or Andy's or Stewart's.'
Sting and Copeland are both volatile personalities who nearly drove each other crazy before the band broke up while at the top of the rock world in 1984. The mellowing agent of time - and the tour's phenomenal business - kept the band adding concert dates well beyond their original intention.
The comeback leaves the Police standing with the Eagles as the two most successful reformations in rock history. The Eagles are an active touring and recording unit again; the Police say they're done.
The band opened with Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love' and later played the Jimi Hendrix Experience's 'Purple Haze', the covers a nod to two other famous rock trios.
Unlike bands that augment their sound with backing musicians, The Police came back as a true trio: A roadie who took one swing at a gong and the New York City Police band were the only other music-makers allowed onstage Thursday, and their appearances were brief.
With Copeland sitting atop a mountain of percussion, the band members seemed like their own countries onstage. Twice they used three separate staircases to exit. Their skillfulness, and determined need to show it, sometimes left songs meandering past the breaking point. Yes, The Police can add jazz fusion to their punky reggae sound, but it sure spoiled this night's version of 'Roxanne'.
And they're hardly a party-hearty bunch. One stretch included consecutive songs about suicide, a hooker, the 'King of Pain', loneliness and a creepy obsessive relationship - the latter ('Every Breath You Take') their biggest hit.
Yet the Police brought a drive to Sting's songs that his more mannered solo work often misses. The man, at nearly 57, can still rock on material like the unexpectedly strong 'Demolition Man', and the years haven't worn down his voice. Early material 'Can't Stand Losing You', 'So Lonely' and 'Next To You' were the purest distillation of the band's original sound, and those lesser-known songs stood their ground with later hits.
After the Cream cover, the band brought out about two dozen uniformed members of the police band for a thunderous version of 'Message In A Bottle' that drew one of the night's loudest ovations. Sting wore one of New York's Finest's caps as he sang.
The New York tour finale was intentional; the band wanted to call it quits in the same city of their first U.S. gig 30 years ago, in the far smaller - though no less famous - CBGB's nightclub, now closed.
The date raised money for New York stations WLIW-21 and Thirteen/WNET. It was an unexpected gift for the stations: a spokeswoman said the offer came as a surprise and had done so well that seats behind the stage were being sold for US a few days before the show.
During a break before the encore, a camera followed Sting backstage where he sat, shirtless, as he had the scraggly beard he'd been wearing shaved off by some exceptionally attractive female stylists (and ladies, the yoga sessions are doing him well: he never put his shirt back on). The laughing audience watched the spectacle on video screens, as Copeland came over to kiss his clean-shaven singer.
Sting still had leftover shaving cream in the corner of his mouth as he came out to sing 'Roxanne'.
There were other lighthearted moments. Three of Sting's daughters crept onstage to dance beside him during Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'. At the show's end, a roadie dressed outrageously as a fat opera singer lip-synched an aria.
The intentions behind that cliche were hard to miss. Things really were over.
(c) Associated Press by David Bauder