Cardiff rocks to the beat of 80s trio's comeback.
One of the supergroups of the 1980s returned to Wales for the first time in 25 years last night as The Police rocked a packed-out Millennium Stadium.
A crowd full of music nostalgics thronged into Cardiff to hear the reformed band belt out such trademark hits as 'Every Breath You Take'.
The band took to the stage shortly before 8.30pm and immediately sent the crowd into a frenzy with one of their biggest hits ''Message In A Bottle'.
Over the previous week there had been concerns as to whether the gig would actually go ahead. The three piece cancelled two other concerts at the MEN Arena in Manchester when lead singer Sting fell ill with a throat infection.
But to the relief of the tens of thousands of Welsh fans who had eagerly awaited the return of the band, last night's gig went ahead as scheduled.
As a measure of their enduring popularity, tickets for the Welsh leg of the band's Reunion World Tour - their penultimate date - had sold out within barely an hour.
In getting back together despite some well-documented personal differences in the past, the trio became the latest in a long line of bands to reform after years apart for a series of shows.
It is the groups first proper tour in 21 years and marks the 30th anniversary of their first hit single 'Roxanne'.
In slipping back into the familiarity of such classics as 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', they are following in the footsteps of boyband Take That who included Cardiff in their comeback tour last year.
The Police's concert at the Millennium Stadium last night was a masterclass in nostalgia and showcased the band's impressive back catalogue, which includes five number one albums and a succession of top 10 singles.
Earlier in the evening Sting's son Joe Sumner had opened the show with his London-based band Fiction Plane..
Their sound couldn't be further from The Police's reggae-inflected laments.
But the forthcoming single 'It's A Lie' showed Sumner Jr has the same keen ear for an infectious pop hook as his father.
R'n'B collective Mr Hudson and The Library provided further support with their acoustic jams reaching a much larger audience than their headline date at the much smaller surroundings of Cardiff Barfly earlier this year.
When it came to the main event Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers promised that the show would be a simple one which was more about the music than three older and wiser rockstars.
And, while the stadium itself was a million miles from the smaller and sweatier venues The Police used to play in their early days, they comfortably adjusted back into a comfortable and familiar favourite shoe.
In between songs last night, Sting even had time to indulge in some banter, talking about his delight in being back in Wales after such a long absence.
He reminisced about how one of the band's first gigs was played at at a nightclub in Newport called Alexander's.
Drawing a huge cheer from last night's masses, he joked, "Don't pretend you were there, there were only about three people there that night" - a far cry from last night's experience - before launching into 'Walking On The Moon'.
The once-warring band mates played together as though they were really enjoying the experience, when they could easily have just been another band cynically counting the vast sums of money earned by the end of each song.
And, to be fair - and with more than a nod to Sting's own charitable works - a portion of the proceeds from the tour are being donated to WaterAid to improve access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education in 17 of the world's poorest countries.
So, while tens of thousands of the band's Welsh fans went home musically satisfied last night, yesterday's concert may ultimately go on to have an even more enduring and widely felt benefit.
© The Western Mail by Michael Took