The Police churn out the hits in Tampa show...
At times, it felt like the old days.
Sting, wielding his beat-up sunburst bass, kicking up his heels to his backside on the final note. Stewart Copeland forgetting about being technically proficient for a moment to unleash a set of rushing flourishes. Andy Summers and Sting facing off with their guitars pointed at each other like dueling gunfighters.
But mostly, The Police's concert at the St. Pete Times Forum Wednesday was a reminder of that, since the band's breakup in 1986, Sting has become a superstar. And, as such, he was clearly in charge of the long-anticipated reunion tour, to the point that it sometimes felt more like a Sting concert with a couple of sidemen.
That's not to say the show wasn't a crowd-pleaser. On the contrary, the band had the sold-out audience on its feet most of the night, clapping and singing along to staples on classic-rock radio. And musically, the band was spot-on, sounding just as tight as it did in its heyday.
Dressed casually in a blue-black T-shirt and black jeans, Sting kept the banter to a minimum as the band plowed through hit after hit, from 'Roxanne' to 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', with the occasional obscure song thrown into the mix to make it interesting to hardcore fans.
The set list changed little from previous dates on the tour, opening with the one-two punch of 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II' and ending with ginormous (this word's in the dictionary now, so I can use it) hits 'King of Pain' and 'Every Breath You Take'.
Roughly a third of the songs included extended breaks in the middle, which usually slowed down the tempo before returning to the original bouncy arrangement. It made the familiar hits a bit more interesting, but it was also a little overused - how many times can you chant, ''yo, yo, yo, yo?''
The stage was sparse, with only a bank of strobe lights overhead and the now-obligatory TV screens distracting from the music. Occasionally, members would venture onto some steps rimming the oval-shaped stage, but that was rare. Mostly, they remained planted in one spot.
Finally, on the final encore - 'Next To You', from the first album - The Police returned to the high-energy performance that made them famous back when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Sting and Summers ran around the stage as they traded licks, and Copeland let loose with some cannon-fire drum fills.
In the end, The Police delivered.
(c) The Sarasota Herald-Tribune by Rod Harmon
The Police Don't Hold Back Hits At Forum...
From the roar that greeted The Police on Wednesday night, it seemed as if the crowd of 21,077 had spent the 20-plus years since the trio last toured awaiting its return.
The threesome, in the midst of a reunion tour few fans thought they'd ever see, delivered a hit-filled set to the sold-out St. Pete Times Forum crowd.
The show was satisfying overall, with some transcendent moments but a few rough patches early on.
After brisk run-throughs of 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Synchronicity II', the band went into a so-so 'Walking On The Moon', marred by some pointless noodling. A medley of 'Voices Inside My Head' and 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around' found both songs reworked almost beyond recognition.
If it wasn't entirely successful, it was heartening to see the band taking chances. Andy Summers' guitar work was brilliant here, as it was throughout the evening.
'Don't Stand So Close to Me' sounded passionless, the one time Wednesday night the entire group seemed uninvolved.
'Driven To Tears', though, set things right, with Summers' slashing guitar chords and Sting's emotion-packed vocals.
From here on out the set was mostly golden. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' was charged with an energy not present on the studio version. Drummer Stewart Copeland colored 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' with an array of mallet percussion.
Copeland seemed to be in constant motion behind his kit, as if to compensate for a perceived need of extra limbs. Singer-bassist Sting seemed resigned to being the trio's anchor, keeping the music grounded while Summers and Copeland explored their instrumental flights of fancy.
The show's peak was a majestic 'Can't Stand Losing You' that flowed seamlessly into 'Reggatta de Blanc' and back out again. If a band has ever fired on all cylinders creatively and technically, it was during this number.
'Roxanne', the song that introduced The Police to U.S. radio audiences in 1979, closed out the pre-encore portion of the show, with the trio finding new musical treasures to mine even in this chestnut.
The punky 'Next To You' closed the show in a frenzy that would shame bands half the age of The Police.
(c) The Tampa Tribune by Curtis Ross
Police reunion tour legendary - The trio may not get along, but they delivered killer songs with a gusto that had fans clapping and cheering...
They were only together for six or seven years. They stayed broken up, fractured, stubborn for almost 24. But like a certain fab Brit band before them, the Police packed a whole lot of legend in a short amount of time, a compact rock legacy making this summer's 30th anniversary/when-pigs-fly reunion tour one of the musical events of the year.
It was our turn to honor the Police on Wednesday - an expensive privilege to be sure - as a sold-out crowd of 21,077 stuffed the St. Pete Times Forum to see the brainy rock trio. There they were: vainglorious mouthpiece Sting, still name-dropping Nabokov; guitarist Andy Summers, gnomish and prickly; polyrhythmically agile drummer Stewart Copeland, keeping the boys juiced.
You no doubt know the backstory: The three dudes don't like each other all that much. There's already been bickering. They're getting paid gobs of moola to finally share a stage again face value for primo seats was $226. Will they even make it to the end of the tour?
But backstory is one thing - back catalog is another, especially when it's being sold to you with professional gusto and earnest effort. From the opening riff of 'Message In A Bottle', the fans - predominantly older, richer, polo-shirted - were in love.
Oh my, do the Police have some killer songs, more than 20 of which they rocketed out boom-boom-boom over the course of a two-hour show. And although the aging legends have replaced some of the punk-reggae moxie of their younger selves with a jazzy, jammy sound, they can still deliver the goods, just the three musicians, no backing help, touching on all their albums but paying particular attention to 1983's iconic 'Synchronicity'.
The general appeal of the Police is akin to, say, The Da Vinci Code: crowd-pleasing entertainment that makes you feel smarter as you sing along. Second song 'Synchronicity II' is all about the interconnectedness of life, but it also made for a ferocious headbanger, with Sting's trademark plaintive wail arguably as pure as it has ever been.
And despite their pedagogical reps, the boys do in fact know how to cut loose: The buoyant 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' might have been the sing-along of the night - although 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', given a spooky sheen by Copeland's full arsenal of gongs, cymbals and tinkly things, was a robust crowd fave, too.
The band's focal point will forever be Sting, who, at 55 years old, obviously has guzzling access to the fountain of youth. Sheesh, this guy. Phenomenally fit in tight T-shirt, snug jeans and black boots, he stood tall and hunky, his tan biceps toned, a smirky rock star fully aware of his magnetism. (Am I gushing?) He gave his voice a full workout, too, hitting and holding all the notes on 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da'.
But give credit to the Other Two. 'On Voices Inside My Head' - which was great to hear primarily because it's the rare Police song not played to death on the radio - the 54-year-old Copeland mixed in rifle-shot snares with alternating hypnotic beats, taking the tempo-mad tune through both rock and jazz moods.
Summers, the band's elder statesman at 64, may look grumpy most of the time, but without him and his fire-alarm licks countering Sting's shamanistic wanderings, the band would be lost. He added particular feisty energy to an extended 'Can't Stand Losing You'.
As the night wore on, the hits got bigger. I'd be fine if I never heard 'Roxanne' again, but with the stage bathed in a lascivious red glow, fans fell out of their chairs cheering for it. Two encores followed, the first including the transcendent 'King of Pain' and 'So Lonely'. The show closed with stalker ode 'Every Breath You Take' and the raucous 'Next To You', from their first album. When the house lights went up, the crowd was still clapping, cheering, appreciating, not sure if they'd ever get the chance again.
(c) The St. Petersburg Times by Sean Daly
Police Reunion Worth The Wait...
''Welcome to the Stewart Copeland show!'' Sting sang near the end of Wednesday's show by the Police at the sold-out St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
That improvised line, tucked into the encore version of 'So Lonely', also was a fitting tribute to the band member that contributed the most distinctive touch to the spirited and musically precise performance. Without Copeland's beat, either subtle or manic, the band's DNA just wouldn't be the same.
In a trio, of course, the impact of each element is crucial. Fortunately, the chemistry between Sting, Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers was nicely balanced in a well-paced set that ran roughly two hours.
Starting with 'Message In A Bottle', the band focused on the hits, occasionally flirting with a tempo change or other nuance, but often remaining faithful to the originals.
They sounded good and looked pretty good, too. Sting appeared particularly fit, bouncing around and prowling the stage in a tight-fitting black T-shirt and matching pants. Summers, in a dark suit, was a diminutive physical presence, but asserted himself skillfully in guitar solos that were flashy but never self-indulgent.
The band played on a stage that was attractive without becoming a distraction. An oval design, it featured a circular runway around the back, a low staircase, banks of moving spotlights as well as some video screens and colorful flashing lights suspended high above the musicians.
Without fireworks or self-important videos about the group's history, the reunited band was able to approach its music without over-doing the nostalgia. Songs such as the textured 'Synchronicity II', offered in the early going, were strong enough to stand alone.
''Are you ready to sing?'' Sting asked the crowd. ''Well, let's go!'' Unfortunately, the atmospheric 'Walking On The Moon', didn't seem like the best choice for a sing-along.
There were other opportunities: 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' still has a catchy hook in there somewhere, even if the band approaches it now with understated energy that dilutes its power. Where's the explosive urgency of the chorus?
Much better was 'Driven To Tears', which segued from its driving syncopation into a climax that churned like a locomotive. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' also was elevated by Copeland's polyrhythmic pounding into an exuberant celebration. No problem singing along to that.
On the other end of the spectrum, Copeland turned 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' into a gorgeous mood piece. His expressive touch on glockenspiel, timpani and an array of exotic percussion toys showed that the band could be tender as well as tough.
After dipping into the moodier stuff, the Police finished with a bang, including 'Can't Stand Losing You', the obligatory 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take'.
For a reunion a long time coming, it was worth the wait.
(c) The Orlando Sentinel by Jim Abbott