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.
© The Rocky Mountain News by Evan Semon