Nov
11
2007

Boston, MA, US (TD Banknorth Garden)

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With Fiction Plane

SHOW REVIEW

Solid set from Police is sold out...

'Roxanne' was a no-show, but Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were very much present and accounted for, delivering a solid, polished set at the soldout TD Banknorth Garden last Sunday night as The Police's reunion tour swung back through Boston before chugging into 2008.

A few disgruntled fans filing out of the arena after the band's second encore carped about not hearing Sting's tribute to the lady of the night (memo to the guy who took it upon himself to start singing it on his own: Uh, nice try, dude). But the song's omission could hardly be called a fault; in one sense, it underscored the depth and durability of the band's catalog. There was a lot of great music played well. Roxanne who? Didn't miss her.

The boys must have decided they didn't miss her either, since the song was cut from the roster the band performed during its two-night stand at Fenway Park in July. The TD Banknorth song-set tinkering also saw 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' go missing, but in its place was a swinging 'Hole in My Life' that featured bassist/vocalist Sting singing Percy Mayfield's 'Hit the Road Jack' at the song's closeout.

'Hole in My Life' proved to be a show highlight, and just one of many songs that included crowd participation.

''Are you going to sing tonight?'' asked clad-in-black, former school teacher Sting. The answer was a resounding ''yes,'' from the call-and-answer ''e-yos'' in a jaunty ''Walking On The Moon'' to the opening verse of a trance-like 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'' and a cheery 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', which owed a bit to Shawn Colvin's cover version of the song.

Sting also encouraged the clapping of ''40,000 hands'' put to good use during a slinky ''Voices Inside My Head,'' and ''Don't Stand So Close to Me.''

'Roxanne' aside, the appreciative crowd was into it.

The hour-and-45-minute show was a more upbeat affair than the band's first Fenway outing, during which slowed tempos to some of the band's hits occasionally tripped up the set's pacing and had audience members scratching their heads. None of that was in evidence this time around. What was clear was the elastic-fantastic playing ability of Sting, Summers and Copeland as they went on an extended jam here and an extended jam there, only to snap back to the familiar song structures again whenever they wanted. Like the first Fenway show, the fun was also palpable. During 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', Copeland appeared to relish his turns at his gigantic percussion rack and trap kit, like some kind of mad scientist. The percussion rack was also used well during 'Walking in Your Footsteps'. Standout jams from a side-by-side Sting and Summers came during 'Voices Inside My Head', which fused into 'When The World is Running Down (You Make the Best of What's Still Around)', and 'So Lonely'.

Arguably the show's best offering was the race-car crunch of 'Driven To Tears', which saw all three players in the driver's seat and loving it.

Fiction Plane, with Pete Wilhoit on drums, Seton Daunt on guitar and Joe Sumner (Sting's son) on bass and vocals, opened the show with an earnestly delivered set that saw the younger Sumner working on his rock-star moves, performing while standing on top of an amplifier on a couple of numbers. All three accomplished players, the trio emits a denser, heavier rock sound than the opening act (thanks in part to Wilhoit's kick-pedal work on the bass drum) that is picking up airplay on alternative-rock radio stations. To be sure, some tunes tip their hat to The Police (with the reggae-inflected 'Two Sisters' from the band's latest CD 'Left Side of the Brain' as a prime example), but there's Yes in there, and Nirvana, too, especially when it comes to Sumner's lyrics (call him the Prince of Pain, if you will).

Daunt's personal influences include ''The Pixies, Bob Dylan, Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd and Radiohead,'' a tidbit he shared while signing autographs and meeting fans along the arena's concourse after Fiction Plane's set, during the show's intermission. With rock band record-store autograph signing events going the way of the eight-track tape, the intermission meet-and-greet appears to be one key way bands sell CDs and actually meet their fans these days. It works.

Fiction Plane's music may be angst-ridden, but in person, Wilhoit, Daunt and Sumner were gracious, funny and patient, signing away and posing with fans for photos snapped by cell phones.

Bandmates are finding the tour to be an enjoyable rollercoaster ride.

''We want everyone to come to see us live,'' Sumner said.

''It's the only way to see us,'' Wilhoit agreed.

(c) Sea Cost Online by Nancy Cicco



Not quite every little thing is magic - Much of The Police show is right on, though...

One of the cool things about watching Fiction Plane open up for the Police at the TD Banknorth Garden earlier this week, was how psyched the band got the audience for the headliners. It's not that Fiction Plane was bad, or especially good. It's that their leader, bassist and singer Joe Sumner, looks, moves and sounds so much like his father - who just happens to be Sting. You find yourself thinking, ''Man, that guy looks like 'Nothing Like the Sun'-era Sting! Wow, that would be cool to see the real Sting play tonight. Wait, I am gonna see the real Sting play tonight... and with The Police! This is gonna be great! Geez, I'm hungry. Maybe I should get a hot dog before The Police start.''

Oops. Sorry about that. Let you into too much of my interior monologue, there.

Anyway, Fiction Plane are an adequate alternative rock three-piece who would be better heard in the confines of a smaller club than an arena. Joe Sumner's voice may sound like his dad's, but the songs are very much his own, drawing much from a different type of '80s sound, more like anything on a John Hughes soundtrack.

Then it was time for Joe's dad to take the stage. The Police set was consistent with the ''best of'' fare they've been playing throughout the tour, but with a lot of improvisational meanderings within the songs courtesy of Andy Summers. The thrill of watching the busy fills of Stewart Copeland is still unparalleled and Sting's voice sounds crisp and loose. Together they brought new arrangements on many parts of these classic songs. A few, such as the sped-up bridge of 'Synchronicity II' felt slightly over-intellectualized and changed for the sake of change, rather than the sake of quality. Remember 'Don't Stand So Close To Me 86', anyone?

The trio found their groove in the middle of a jam during 'Walking On The Moon' which continued into a medley of songs from their third album, 'Zenyatta Mondatta'.

During this medley of 'Voices Inside My Head' and 'When The World is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around' it became clear that not only were the band switching up beats in certain instances, but they were also switching keys, so Sting could hit the notes more easily. Nowhere was this more apparent than on 'So Lonely', where he forsook the gorgeous falsetto in favor of a range that the audience could hit along with him.

The audience singing along was another odd aspect of this show. Everyone knew all the words, and was happy to sing along, but it just wasn't as rabid as it was when The Police first graduated to arena level superstars. How could it be though? Fans who were teenagers in 1983 are in their mid to late thirties now. What was evident in the audience's subdued excitement was an appreciation that the guys performing these songs that have become so ingrained in our soft rock subconscious were the guys who actually first recorded them, rather than the millions of cover bands we've all heard play 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', and therein lay the true, er, um, magic of this show. And seeing the three guys responsible for this music performing it together after all these years made up for any over-arranging or any slower tempos.

(c) Boston Metro by Pat Healy



The Police at TD Banknorth...

A reunited version of the British new wave band, The Police, hit the stage at the TD Banknorth Garden on Nov. 11. Providing audiences with nearly two hours of hits from their five albums, the band proved that they are still prominent nearly 30 years later. Consisting of singer/bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers, and drummer Stewart Copeland, the power trio sought to disprove those who were doubtful of a reunion.

The night began with 'Message In A Bottle,' one of The Police's most recognizable hits dating back to the 1979 album Reggatta de Blanc. During the course of the show, the band performed 19 hits including, 'Every Breath You Take,' 'Synchronicity II,' 'Can't Stand Losing You,' and 'Walking On The Moon.' For loyal fans, it was entertaining to hear lesser known tracks like the politically flavored 'Driven To Tears' and 'Truth Hits Everybody.' While the band reformatted some of the song arrangements, it was only the chorus of 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' that was disappointing.

The night concluded appropriately with 'Next To You,' the punk-influenced song that kicked off the band's debut album. As the trio bowed and left the stage, most fans appeared satisfied though a number of attendees were frustrated that 'Roxanne,' a gigantic hit for the band, was excluded from the night's set.

The band, while obviously a little older and slower, has maintained the same level of musical precision and finesse that was characteristic of their glory days. Sting's voice is still considerably powerful even though he has decided to refrain from some of the high, shrill notes that were found on the early albums. Copeland's frantic, fill-laden drumming was the driving force for many of the songs. On three numbers, including 'King of Pain,' he darted back and forth between a standard drum kit and a special rig containing more ambient sounding percussion instruments. Summer's guitar playing relied on dissonant chords and effect-driven textures, giving him the sound that many guitarists like, The Edge, emulated in the '80s.

Any complaints regarding the reunion are put aside when you take a moment to consider what you are witnessing: The Police are together again onstage in 2007. For a band that was so infamous for clashing egos and constant squabbling, audiences should realize that this event was never supposed to happen. I hope that this armistice continues and the band can give fans the new album they have been waiting for since 1983. B+

(c) The BCHeights.com by By Chris Dewey



Every little thing's magic for Police in third '07 Hub concert...

Yoga hasn't ruined the Police. Tantric sex machine, rain forest savior and occasional Police frontman, Sting is still a rock god. A highfalutin, herbal tea-drinkin' rock god, but a rock god nonetheless.

Last night, Sting, 56, drummer Stewart Copeland, 55, and guitarist Andy Summers, 64, assaulted a near-capacity and overjoyed TD Banknorth Garden with their inscrutable yet always catchy pop.

Early shows on the reunion tour were panned - by critics and Copeland's blog. But by the time they got to Fenway for a pair of summer sellouts, the late '70s power trio was up to speed. At their third 2007 Boston appearance, they were at full speed, burning through hits including 'King of Pain', 'So Lonely' and 'Next To You'.

The band has done an almost identical set all tour, except last night the guys left out 'Roxanne'. But within the unsurprising set list, the three maestros often deconstructed their classics. 'Voices Inside My Head' bled into 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around'. Half of 'Reggatta de Blanc' was stuffed between verses of 'Can't Stand Losing You'. And 'Driven To Tears' was turned inside out by a vicious, dissonant Summers' guitar solo that swam upstream against the melody.

Sting's songwriting and vocals are what make the Police popular, but Summers and Copeland make the band exceptional. Summers spent so much time laying back strumming simple, echo-laden chords that when he ripped into a solo, he turned the blithe pop into jazz-punk equations.

Copeland didn't care to bang out standard rock beats, and he refused to keep a straight time or play the same thing twice. But when he climbed off his kit and onto a percussion station full of bells, shakers, timpani and a six-foot gong for 'Walking in Your Footsteps', he added the needed epic stadium rock feel to the show.

Smartly, the Police didn't alter all their songs arrangements. While occasionally boring, it's what much of the crowd wanted: Sting's still-perfect voice married to his still-perfect pop.

If the Police formed this decade, they'd sound exactly like openers Fiction Plane. And not solely because Fiction Plane singer/song-writer/bassist Joe Sumner is a dead ringer for dad, who happens to be Police singer/songwriter/bassist Sting. Their voices are so similar, people in the beer lines were asking passers-by, ''Hey, are the Police already on?''

Father and son have the same stage presence, good looks and compositional chops - the ska/reggae redux of 'Two Sisters' could be a 'Synchronicity' outtake. They also share a penchant for finding near-virtuosic backing musicians comfortable in bouncing between punk, pop and pounding power trio workouts. It's a shame Sting's shadow is so massive. With Brit pop hooks and intricate arrangements, Fiction Plane is way better than most rock star kids' bands.

(c) The Boston Herald by Jed Gottlieb



The Police don't miss a beat...

The last time the Police played Boston Garden, on April 12, 1982, Larry Bird was in his third season with the Celtics. Michael Dukakis was about to win re-election as governor, and Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

The vision of the Police - three bleached-blonde virtuosos darting though their polyglot mix of New Wave pop hooks and skittering, reggae-accented grooves - was something even their most hopeful fans were convinced they might never again witness after the band broke up in 1984. (The trio did play a June 10, 1983, show at Sullivan Stadium in Foxborough). But the Police have reunited - for now - and they're in the midst of a world tour.

For those who swore they'd never see it, last night's trenchant, sold-out performance at TD Banknorth Garden marked the group's third Boston concert in four months, following a pair of robust summer shows at Fenway Park, where improbable, and once-impossible, dreams apparently do come true.

One hundred minutes, nearly two dozen tunes, and two encores began with a kinetic 'Message In A Bottle' that was a transportive reminder of the days when the Police were a brash young band with as much promise as peroxide. They're older now (singer-bassist Sting is 56, guitarist Andy Summers is 64, and drummer Stewart Copeland is 55) but the music remained fresh - as lean and sinewy as Sting's T-shirted torso.

The frantic 'Can't Stand Losing You' and 'So Lonely' rode Summers' spiky guitar hooks with racing, libidinous urgency. (Summers, playing with workmanlike understatement, nevertheless turned in a blustery, blistering solo on 'Driven To Tears', his best of the night). Copeland was a picture of fierce focus throughout, a syncopated shopkeeper of all manner of percussion; surrounded by cymbals, deftly tapping out the ''thousand rainy days'' of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' in double-time with marvelous efficacy.

Sting, a supremely confident, relaxed presence onstage, was in fine, flexible voice - his preening, choked sob and killer reggae record collection intact. The only concession he made to not hitting his once-preternaturally high registers - jarringly lowering the key of the chorus of the oddly muddled, tepid 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' - cost the song. But coming back to the Garden after 25 years, anyone's bound to be a bit rusty. Even Larry Bird might miss an occasional three-pointer after all this time.

(c) The Boston Globe by Jonathan Perry

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