Sting Battles Cough, Wins...
Like a gold soldier and a true professional, Sting went on stage Thursday night in Ottawa, Canada, and won one for the Gipper.
It was an auspicious premiere for the last leg of the Police's grand reunion tour, which started in Ottawa and goes back through America and Europe before finishing up in New York on Aug. 3 and 4.
What to do when the lead singer of the world's most successful rock band (sorry, Stones) has what everyone has had for the last six weeks - the hundred-day cough?
Try herbal teas, hot packs, eucalyptus creams, yoga, meditation. Maybe a cheeseburger would have helped, I don't know.
Maybe it was Elvis Costello and the Imposters' rockin' set at the ScotiaBank arena (formerly the Corel Center) that pumped Sting up. But by the time Costello was pounding through a triumphant reverie of '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding', the Stingster was up and ready to go.
Of course, he was also wearing a skimpy T-shirt full of holes when I'll bet a warm sweater would have been preferred.
But there he was, as a new video played behind 'Voices in My Head', and suddenly he, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers launched into the new opening, 'Bring on the Night', that brought cheers. The audience never sat down after that.
The group has made some changes for this last leg, adding 'Bring on the Night', 'Demolition Man' and 'Hole in My Life' to the set. (My old favorite, 'Truth Hits Everyone', has been dropped!) 'Message In A Bottle' has been moved to the middle of the show, a smart idea since it further catalyzes the audience at just the right moment.
The Police show remains one of the most satisfying rock concert experiences I can remember. Three guys produce these amazing sounds. There is no augmentation. They just do it. No one else is playing the same instrument hidden in the background. It's all very real, even the mistakes, and the audience responds with a roar and waves of ''Ee-oh.'' It makes you think rock is still alive.
Ottawa is just the beginning of this new wave as The Police head into places they haven't been for a long time: Buffalo, Columbus, Kansas City. No one will be disappointed. Andy Summers' guitar work remains intricate, skilled and supple as ever. He and Sting get into some ferocious, stunning jams. Stewart Copeland does stuff with cymbals, bells and baubles, not to mention drums, that cannot be reproduced by mere mortals.
Of course, it's pretty cool to have Costello as the opening act on this round. Ridding himself of 'Alison' as encore (it's in the middle of the pack), Costello is doing a greatest hits set mixing in a few songs from his new, mostly unattainable album, 'Momofoku'. There's a great one in there called 'My Three Songs', about his older son, Matthew, and twin toddlers Dexter and Frank. It's lovely. And we also got 'Accidents Will Happen', 'Radio Radio', 'Watching the Detectives', 'Pump It Up' and 'Everyday I Write the Book', all beautifully executed.
There are rumors that Sting and Costello will perform together as the tour proceeds - 'Shipbuilding' would be nice, from Costello; 'Canary in a Coal Mine' from the Police side. I'm just sayin'.
So hopefully everyone will get over their ailments - even Costello sounded like he needed a zinc drop - even though towns like Ottawa and Buffalo are no help. It was cold up there! At least the artists don't have to fly on Continental from Newark (the only non stop flight to Canada's capital city) on a small narrow plane that could have doubled as an MRI. What is it with Continental at Newark? At 8 a.m., the security line is pandemonium. Ah, but that's another story. Someone should call... the Police!
(c) Fox News by Roger Friedman
The Police and Elvis Costello Begin Again in Ottawa...
It will be a shame if this is indeed the final North American swing for the Police, as the reunited group showed itself to be a joyous arena rock machine that enthralled a sold out Scotiabank Place in Ottawa last night, their first visit to Canada's capitol since 1979.
Clad in a black suit and restrained specs, opener Elvis Costello unleashed a mixture of classics and cuts from the recent 'Momufuku', his lively new album. 'I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea' grew anthemetic with gristly bass lines and a haunting keyboard drone, while 'Alison' oozed kitschy charm as Costello held a quivering high note. Along with Momofuku's gorgeous acoustic ballad 'My Three Sons' - an ode to his own children, not the Fred MacMurray vehicle - Costello's set defined how well-worked neurosis can be channeled into transcendent pop moments.
Even if Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers and Gordon Sumner actually hate each other's guts, the virtuosic chemistry produced by their 21-song set was unparalleled. This is still a band on their A-game - gleaming, precise, and infectious. As Sting teased out melodies like Chet Baker, a surreal percussion showcase sent Copeland barreling between toms and an upright glockenspiel, transforming 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' into a would-be Japanese Shinto ceremony. Bathed in blue light (guess what color scheme lit 'Roxanne'?), final encore 'Every Breath You Take' became a slinky, wraith-like warning, dissolving into applause as cell phone cameras blazed like fireflies. But even after his bandmates' exit, Summers played on, peeling out electric shocks of guitar riffs with a naughty grin. ''Andy, what the fuck are you doing? I thought we said no!'' joked Sting upon re-entry, launching into the more-appropriate closer 'Next To You'.
(c) Rolling Stone by Chandler Levack
Police melt years away for 12,000 faithful...
The Police kicked off the final leg of their reunion tour at Scotiabank Place last night with a concert that was remarkable for two main reasons.
First of all, despite rumours of infighting among the three band members, singer-bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland played like a fully integrated unit. It was just the three of them on stage, and each musician held his own. Plus, for a concert tour based on old material, it was far more musically adventurous than expected.
Of course, there are always a few purists who don't like it when their favourite band changes the songs, but even they would have to admit that the Police have it down to a science, finding the perfect balance between the familiar melodies and the meanderings that keep it interesting.
Beneath artful lighting that illuminated the white T-shirt clinging to Sting's yoga-chiselled physique, the concert started with the undulating 'Bring on the Night' before the familiar strains of 'Demolition Man' raised the mercury, enhanced by digitally-inspired red lights and white strobes.
In need of a shave, a beaming Sting made a couple of references to the last time the band played Ottawa, which he said was Sept. 15, 1979. ''Are you ready to sing tonight?'' he asked, knowing full well no one's voice could soar like his.
Still, you can't underestimate the power of an audience on a nostalgia high, and there were unabashed attempts to match his sterling vocals on songs such as 'Walking On The Moon', 'Synchonicity II' and 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'. One highlight was the rousing, extended version of 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', which gave way to the crystalline 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'.
Close to 12,000 people attended the concert, most representing the demographic that came of age in the 1980s. For them, the years melted away.
During his generous, hour-long opening set, British rock legend Elvis Costello spun through his catalogue, harkening back to the days when vinyl ruled, and including a couple of songs from his new disc, Momofuko, which is available on vinyl. Not a shiny piece of plastic, he noted between songs, but a ''big black vinyl record.''
Yup, that's right. In an era when artists are seeking hot new technology to deliver their music, the famously crusty Costello chose to debut his new studio album last month on vinyl (with a digital download key), though it will be released on CD later this month.
From that new album, recorded with the core Imposters band members, came the lyrical 'My Three Sons' and the crisp rocker 'American Gangster Time'. They blended seamlessly with classic material such as 'Alison' and 'Accidents Will Happen'. Also given new life by Costello and his band were the lilting Watching the Detectives and searing versions of 'Radio Radio', 'Pump it Up' and '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding'. It was a terrific set.
(c) The Ottawa Citizen by Lynn Saxberg
Arresting Performance - Police and Elvis Costello deliver stellar performances before packed house at The Bank...
The Police sure know how to make up for lost time.
After skipping over Ottawa - twice - on their 2007 30th anniversary reunion tour, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers made amends by launching their latest, and supposedly last ever tour, in the nation's capital last night.
In what could be labelled the ''Sorry We Missed You Tour,'' the Police will visit 14 cities this month, many that were left off the road map last time out.
And the former bleach-blond New Wavers brought along a friend - fellow Class of 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Elvis Costello.
Before a packed house, The Police took the stage amid a mass of Summers' guitar feedback and Copeland's frantic high-hat flutters, lapsing into the sweet nylon-string strains of 'Bring On the Night'.
And with that, the 31-year Police drought in Ottawa was over.
The band took a few songs to find its groove.
'Demolition Man', from 1981's 'Ghost in the Machine', sounded forced, and Sting had difficulty finding his distinctive tenor vocal register. When he did, the cavernous Scotiabank Place swallowed up the lyrics and spat them out in a warbled wash.
At first, the much-hyped return of the jazz and reggae-tinged post-punk songsmiths threatened to turn arena rock spectacle.
But rocky start aside, they hit their stride on 'Walking On The Moon', and never looked back, burning through a hit-laden set that kept delivering reminders of what made The Police the definitive singles band of the 1980s.
'Don't Stand So Close', 'Roxanne', 'King of Pain' and 'Every Breath You Take' were played to impassioned near-perfection.
The bleach-blond is showing more than a few streaks of grey these days, but each of the Police bandmates had his turn to shine, showcasing the immense musical prowess that set the band apart from their contemporaries.
Summers, in a Sgt. Pepper-esque royal guard jacket, ripped through his trademark tension-filled solos, and launched the standout 'Message In A Bottle' with a positively nasty riff.
Copeland, who famously derided his bandmates after a shaky start to last year's tour in Vancouver, was masterful on the drums, floating effortlessly around his massive kit, including percussion, chimes and gong, on the sublime 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'.
And Sting laid down a ribcage-rattling low end bass groove, belted out ''eee-yohs'' to wild applause, and cavorted about the stage during instrumental breaks.
During an extended mid-set instrumental jam, Sting broke out a sly reference to the band's post-nostalgia tour fate.
''Hit the road Jack, and don't you come back no more,'' he sang through a grin, while Summers and Copeland rocked-out around him.
Of course, if the band ever did decide to hit the road one more time, they'd be welcome back in Ottawa in a heartbeat.
For all the legendary spats between the three - who were at each other's throats by the time they finally split up in 1986 - they looked positively gleeful by the time they reached their second encore last night, a paint-peeling delivery of Next To You, the lead off track from their 1978 debut, 'Outlandos d'Amour'.
Before the police took the stage, Costello, in trademark black-framed spectacles and backed by The Imposters, delivered a solid 40-minute opening set, blending old favourites with tunes from his latest record, Momofuku.
After ripping through a blistering '(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea', with its lilting reggae one-drop beat, and the rousing 'Every Day I Write the Book', Costello gave fans what they came for with a tender rendition of the 1977 hit 'Alison', from his debut album 'My Aim Is True'.
With Momofuku, Costello makes a slight return to his schizophrenic geek-punk roots, the rocking 'American Gangster Time' and 'Turpentine' striking a sharp contrast to the soft, acoustic ballad 'My Three Sons'.
The highlight came mid-set, with longtime keyboardist Steve Nieve's swirling Wurlitzer giving way to a stark, almost tribal rendering of 'Watching the Detectives', before closing out with frenetic renditions of 'Radio Radio', 'Pump it Up' and the anthemic '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding'.
As the song, and set, came to an abrupt close, Costello held his Telecaster aloft and the house lights came up, leaving fans wanting more.
(c) Ottawa Sun by Aedan Helmer