The Police Prove Themselves...
Turn your radio down, step away from the vehicle, place your hands in the air and well, you get the idea. This past weekend Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland arrived to take over two night's at Chicago's Wrigley Field and they had a lot to prove.
There have been many questions circling this tour from the first announcement of the reunion and those same questions still lingered in the Wrigleyville air on Thursday night. The main one was arguably who were we going to see on the stage this evening? Was it Sting, a drummer and a guitarist or was it really going to be the band that we dished out all this money for and have been waiting and hoping to see again? This was the main question that I was afraid was going to end badly.
There's no arguing the talent of Sting and the longevity of his career has proven just that. Through the last few decades I've seen Sting perform live probably a dozen times and he's always delivered a great show with a nice collection of his hit songs both solo and otherwise. However, the solo career version of Sting was not the Sting that first grabbed my attention and that's not to say it was bad it was just different. Even his last tour, where he stripped down his band and promised a more rocking version of his hits, still sounded like the VH-1 Sting that I had seen live through the years.
So with that in mind, I understandably had my doubts arriving at Cub's stadium that evening. Were my fears realized? Actually no, I can honestly say on Thursday night I didn't see Sting and his backing band, I saw The Police. I've heard mix-reviews about the tour so far including one from Stewart Copeland himself but tonight they were back. Perhaps they needed the 21 shows before Wrigley's to get to know each other again but whatever it was it showed.
It's amazing how great a 3-piece can sound and everyone tonight shined. Sting's bass never sounded so loose and raw and that chip on his shoulder edginess was back in his eyes. Summers moved around the stage way beyond his years showing us just why he is one of the more unique guitarists of any era. Copeland hiding in the back was the MVP of the evening and proved he can still keep the band tight with still room to play and has finally found that happy place.
From the beginning The Police had one thing going for them this evening, their songs. There's a reason why they were one of the most successful bands of the 80's and they performed 20 of them tonight. From the opening chords of 'Message in a Bottle' to the rocking closure of 'Next To You', the trio reminded us how great of a band they were and perhaps still are. I would even argue they were better than they were on their 'Synchronicity' tour, do you disagree? Then just pop in the live show from their double disc ''Live'' cd or the recently released DVD version. Plus, you have to give them credit for deciding to not bring in more members to fill out the sound or any backing vocalists and instead proved they could still do it just the three of them.
Tonight they looked like they were having as great of a time as we were in the crowd playing almost every hit you could think of and a few extra deep cuts as well. Some of the hits were the inevitable, 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Invisible Sun'. Yet some of the surprises were songs Sting hadn't played since his days with The Police like 'Truth Hits Everybody' and one of my favorites, 'Bed's Too Big Without You'. This set sadly is the exact same one they have been performing on the entire tour and lets hope if they do another leg they will consider mixing it up a bit. I would love to hear 'Bring on the Night', 'Hungry For You (j'aurais toujours faim de toi)', 'Hole In My Life', or how about their first single, 'Fallout', that they use to always perform back in the old days.
I have to say Sting looked pretty comfortably being part of The Police again and this whole reunion tour is something I never thought would happen. This may be the only chance I'll ever see of them but it was worth it. I'm not holding my breath that they will continue beyond this tour and I suspect there are better odds of Sting recording another album of 16th century music on the lute then another Police album.
Regardless, for one night I was given a second chance to see Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland together on one stage and I have to say it was a gift.
(c) Lumino Magazine by Barry Brecheisen
The Police Rock Wrigley Field In Chicago...
Billed as one of the biggest acts to hit the summer tour circuit, the newly reunited Police marked the first set of their two sold-out concerts at Wrigley Field on a beautifully warm Thursday night in Chicago.
After a 23-year hiatus from touring together, the notoriously tenuous re-alliance of singer Sting, guitarist Andy Summers, and drummer Stuart Copeland appeared ready to rock the 40,000 faithful fans, most of whom paid premium prices for what has been described in no uncertain terms as the ''must-see'' concert event of the summer.
In that respect, the show was definitely a success. Fans of the Police-one of the most seminal New Wave bands of all time-got to hear the vast majority of the hits that made the Police superstars in their 1977-84, five-album producing heyday. The problem was more the tempo of the show, which, while successfully nostalgic, failed to rev up the crowd in the typically frenetic fashion that made the Police famous in the first place.
Lead singer Sting, looking remarkably fit at age 55, still possessed a vigorously strong voice that meshed well with Copeland's percussions and Summers' rhythmic beats over the 100-minute long, 20-song show featuring almost all their classic hits, including 'King of Pain', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', 'Walking On The Moon', 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', a stretched-out jam version of 'Roxanne' and the reggae-infused 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'.
Despite flashes of their past brilliance, the trio of rockers failed to achieve the kinetic energy of their younger, more turbulent years. And while Police fans undoubtedly were pleased by a reunion some 23 years in the making, many of those who shelled out big bucks in the hopes of being blown away by the reunion of one of the biggest rock bands ever, couldn't help walking away feeling a little bit Stung.
(c) AHM News by Julie Farby
Big lovefest for reuinited Police...
Back 25 years ago, when the Police packed what was then the Rosemont Horizon, I remember thinking: How the hell do three guys produce enough sound to fill this cavernous space?
With a weird sense of deja vu, I found myself thinking the same thing Thursday night when the reunited trio pulled the same trick at Chicago's Wrigley Field in the first of two sold-out shows.
Plus, it was a little more than two years ago that I, in a review of a solo Sting performance at UIC Pavilion, lamented that a little of Sting's pretentious ''I'm a serious jazz musician'' persona went a long way. Was it too much to ask him to rock out a bit, especially as he had hauled out so many Police songs for that show?
Thursday, I received my wish.
Who knew that April 2005 show would be a precursor to Thursday night's Wrigley lovefest, a greatest-hits sing-along that diehard fans probably thought they'd never witness.
From the opening chords of 'Message In A Bottle' to the finale jam of 'Next To You', all but one song was well-known - and well-received.
The Police came of age in the new-wave era of the late 1970s-early '80s, and while the angst of the bottle-blond band has dissipated (its fans have mellowed as well), they still have their musical chops.
Bassist/singer Sting is 55 now, but remains lean, wiry and in strong voice. Guitarist Andy Summers, at 64, may be a decade older than his bandmates but he can still knock out a few impressive riffs.
But it was 54-year-old Stewart Copeland who put in a particularly strenuous set. While purists will say he was occasionally behind the beat - and he was - the workout those songs entailed would have felled a guy half his age.
Unfortunately, the show was light on small talk and offered little insight into the songs. (Unless you consider not-such-new tidbits as ''This song is not autobiographical; that's all I'm going to say'' at the start of 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' to be insightful.)
For a band that hasn't played together since 1986 (with the exception of Sting's 1992 wedding and their 2003 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), they had remarkably limited interaction with each other. More than once their set felt a little rote.
Still, Sting and Summers joined forces occasionally for a little back-and-forth play, particularly for more improvisational takes of 'Driven To Tears' and 'Walking in Your Footsteps'. And there was a fun switch-up going from 'Voices Inside My Head' to 'When the World Is Running Down'.
Predictably, the crowd's biggest responses came with some of the band's biggest hits: 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' and, of course, the pre-encore finale of 'Roxanne'.
To hear Sting belt out that last song was worth all of the hassle of parking, crowds and temporary on-field seating that a show at Wrigley entails.
That - and the kick that came from Copeland donning a Cubs baseball jersey at the end of the show with his name and ''07'' stitched on the back.
(c) Daily Southtown by Karen Sorensen
Wrigley '07 Vs. Comiskey '83 ... Winner, Everyone!
We've struggled long and hard on just how to approach this review of last night's Police show at Wrigley Field. On one hand, we are unabashed fanboys who believe the core trio of Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland, can do no wrong. On the other hand, there were obvious chinks in the band's armor.
So let's get the negatives out of the way first.
For most of the show, The Police seemed to be playing through a viscous fluid, with most of their songs' rhythms being just a half step behind the pace our memories had set. And, to be sure, there was far too much Sting-ish noodling early in the set. 'Walking On The Moon', three songs in, had our hearts racing as we believed the band had finally found their pace, only to have our hopes dashed as the composition spun out of control and slowed to a snail's pace amongst the group's jammy tendencies.
(And here is the point that we acknowledge, begrudgingly, that the backing vocals for most of the evening were handled by tapes obviously pre-recorded to reignite of Sting's younger days and broader vocal range.)
So let's say this here and now, and then move on to the more thrilling moments: The Police are a much older band, that gave in to the temptations of stadium excess - be it call and response or extended bass / guitar solos - and you have to be forgiving of that going into the show.
But when they were on, they were on.
Sting, although nearly bald, was almost a dead ringer for the fellow that last toured with the band in 1984. Stewart Copeland was still a monster behind the drum kit, leaping from level to level to handle xylophones, auxiliary percussion, (over-the-top) gong duty, and everything that propelled the group's sound. How that man kept up the pace he did is still beyond us, and should put just about every other modern percussionist to complete shame. Andy Summers was the most static of the three, but he still effortlessly drew out the reggae-pop chords that helped propel the group to the top of the charts in the first place.
The crowd enjoyed the show, but were rarely driven to the point of dancing (well, beyond the usual mega-show arm waving that is commonly driven by 30-somethings revisiting a long dormant love affair with the Mary Jane). But when the band hit on all cylinders (sorry for that cliché) the crowd couldn't resist. They were easily drawn in by the band dropping in the vocalizations of 'Reggatta de Blanc' in the midst of 'Can't Stand Losing You'. And when the stadium met Sting's ''eeyay-eeyay-eeyayos'' it was truly chilling.
We suspect the band was aware of their faults, because they more than followed through on the promise we all expected with their encore. 'King Of Pain', long a song we thought superfluous, was transformed into an anthem that led directly into a transcendent 'So Lonely'. This was the song we most feared hearing, since it ranks as our own personal #1 song of all time, but the band attacked it with gusto and let it stand on its own without trying to rework it into a Boomer anthem. A flaccid 'Every Breath You Take' followed, and the throngs started to stream out.
Because just after 'Every Breath You Take', the band launched into a visceral version of 'Next To You'. All the punk fury we had been looking for all night long - say what you will about the band jumping on the punk bandwagon, but when they spat fire, it burned - exploded over the remaining throngs and literally stopped us dead in our tracks. Copeland made up for Sting's name-checking Comiskey Park earlier in the evening by wearing a custom-made Cubs jersey that both pandered and displayed the band's underdog mentality, even as they surfed a multi-million dollar wave of single-evening ticket sales.
We went in with high hopes expecting the worst, but we came out completely satisfied and feeling like we got our money's worth. The Police are older, and a little slower, but they still managed to give us exactly what we were looking for. Could you ask anything more from a trip down memory lane?
Police at Wrigley: It's synchronicity...
With his rock star credentials flashed everywhere in the world, Sting made a serious cultural gaffe when he addressed a North Side crowd - at Wrigley Field of all places - with a story of when the Police last played Comiskey Park.The crowd booed. Sting recovered: ''Sorry,'' he said. ''But we are back.''
It was one of just a few stumbling blocks at the Chicago stop on what is the year's most highly anticipated and highly priced reunion tour. One of the few holdouts on the reunion circuit these past few years, The Police finally agreed late last year to hit the road, resulting in a world tour promising band standards and - if they could pull it off - band camaraderie as well.
For veterans best known for their onstage and offstage contention, the power trio appeared very agreeable, if not a little humdrum, Thursday, the first of two consecutive sold-out shows at the North Side ballpark. The 100-minute, 20-song show mainly featured songs that have since become standards, covered by everyone from rappers to country stars to reggae bands. On lesser-known songs, the trio demonstrated an unexpected interest in jamming, taking the songs where they hadn't been before.
Thursday's greatest revelation was the presence of Sting as a side player and not the star he became once the Police broke up in 1984. He made a point of making sure his fellow players - drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers - owned the stage, too. For these moments, Sting, still one of music's most compelling singers, left his star position and huddled with Summers just feet from Copeland's kit. Together they taunted each other and enabled some of the show's more thrilling moments.
The Police reinvented itself as a jam band. On 'Voices Inside My Head', Summers took the lead, pushing the song's spacious funk grooves into double time. For 'Demolition Man', he played on and off the beat playing terse, jazzy solos, later diving into minor key excursions for 'Invisible Sun'.
Copeland took refuge in a platform of percussion instruments that could fill a neighborhood drum shop. For songs from the Police's latter era ('King of Pain', 'Walking in Your Footsteps'), he bounced between providing exotic textures on kettle drums, vibes and tiny arms of cymbals, and jumping back to his drum kit to keep time. Yes, there was a gong and it was used, but unlike everything else played, it was mostly for show.
The show veered from routine but hit many sudden peaks that made them sound like a vital band, renewed. Requisite renditions of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' (for some puzzling reason, the band chose to play the sluggish version from 1986) took little risks. The 10-minute jam of 'Roxanne' was unnecessary; rare has a song with so little to offer been forced to give so much.
What made this reunion crackle was when their familiarity with the songs fell by the wayside and all three players found the spark that put them together in the first place. It came during 'So Lonely', a song from their first album. The band turned to each other for inspiration, Sting resting his head on Summers' shoulder as the guitarist released strong solos that stretched across Copeland's continually tumbling rhythms. For fun, Sting later namechecked his mates in his lyrics, but the connection was evident from the start.
(c) Chicago Daily Herald by Mark Guarino
The Police pull off a respectable reunion at Wrigley, with friendly chemistry and only a few duds...
''We are the Police and we're happy to be back in Chicago,'' Sting told 40,000 fans at Wrigley Field on Thursday, the first of a two-night stand on the trio's much-anticipated and heavily hyped reunion tour.
Moments later, the crowd was booing the peroxide blond threesome, but that wasn't a comment on the music. The bassist and vocalist of the New Wave hitmakers had simply noted that the last time he, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland played here was in 1983 - at Comiskey Park - and no mention of that venue will ever play in the Friendly Confines.
A consistent criticism of the tour has held that, Sting's stage patter aside, the three musicians haven't seemed all that happy to be standing onstage together again. Another knock has been that their renditions of their greatest hits have been wildly inconsistent.
Well, maybe it took 21 shows to warm up and recover the groove the group abandoned 21 years ago, but the Police showed as much vim, vigor and fondness for each other and the material as I remember at the last two shows I witnessed, at Madison Square Garden and Shea Stadium back in the day. And truth be told, they were pretty inconsistent then, too. Some songs were great, but just as many fell flat, and the same was true on Thursday.
On the plus side of the ledger: passionate versions of 'Synchroncity II' and 'When the World Is Running Down...' that allowed Summers to stretch out with some fiery but complex solos illustrating his merger of punk and progressive rock, and entrancing takes on 'Walking On The Moon' and 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' that respectively showcased Copeland's polyrhythmic dexterity and flair for incorporating ethnic percussion and world rhythms.
As for luxury sports car pitchman and yoga guru Sting, he may have transposed the keys for several tunes to make up for what he's lost at the high end of his register. But to his credit, he didn't expand the Police sound with hired musicians or digital backing tracks, and he was much better in this setting than he's been on any of his jazz- and New Age-tainted solo tours.
On the debit side, we also got dreadfully dragging versions of 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and 'Walking in Your Footsteps'; a leaden 'Invisible Sun' further weighted down by pretentious photos of Third World youth splashed on the giant video screens and truly lousy readings of 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' and 'Roxanne', which are tired enough without meandering jams stretching things out.
In the end, fans who saw the group during its heyday got a welcome dose of nostalgia. Fans who never thought they'd get to see the famously fractious trio had their chance. And whether any of it was worth .50 per song - which is what concertgoers who paid 5 for seats on the field shelled out -probably depends on how much you loved those hits and how little that kind of an expense hurts your budget.
In the most egregious example of nepotism Chicago has witnessed since Todd Stroger, Fiction Plane opened with Sting's son Joe Sumner in the same role as pop, holding down bass and vocals in a power trio. He sang like dad, too, but the resemblance ended there, with Fiction Plane's generic chiming pop lacking any of the drive, sonic originality or sophisticated songwriting of the Police at their best.
(c) The Chicago Sun-Times by Jim DeRogatis
Police at Wrigley: Every little thing they do is not magic...
The members of the Police are now multimillionaires, men of leisure who played leisurely versions of many of their hits Thursday in the first of two sold-out concerts at Wrigley Field.
''Sold out'' is a relative term, as scalpers were dumping tickets at well below face value outside the ballpark. Inside, the Police occasionally played as if they were mentally counting up the $100 million they will pile up on their current tour, the band's first in 23 years, rather than focusing on the task at hand. The crowd took its time getting into the show as well; while waiting for the Police to heat up, the fans applauded the hits politely and otherwise made as much noise as a typical summer theater crowd.
Older and grayer, but still looking fit, the band flashed lots of chops and not enough of their usual discipline on 20 songs stretched over two hours. During their five-album, 1977-84 prime, the Police were at their best when their terse, skeletal songs were delivered exactly that way: No fat, no filler, no fooling around.
The show took a trip down Nostalgia Boulevard with no new songs, and reprised all the top-40 hits with the exception of 'Spirits in the Material World'. Drummer Stewart Copeland pounced on his aircraft-carrier-sized drum kit with cobra-like ruthlessness. Andy Summers affirmed his status as one of the more unique guitarists in rock history, his vocabulary of chiming, reverberating tones and exotic colors almost entirely free of blues cliches. And though he didn't reach all the high notes, Sting remained a supple vocalist and pliant bass player. The trio played without noticeable backing tracks or any backing musicians on a no-frills stage. The message in this particular bottle was that the Police didn't need any props because their songs are that good.
And they are. But on this night the songs often took a back seat to the band's desire to tinker with them. The concert got off to wobbly start, and didn't really start picking up steam until well past the halfway mark. What took so long? Instead of hitting hard and fast, the trio vamped and preened.
The first three songs were stretched to nearly 25 minutes, as if the sultry evening demanded a minimum of exertion. Summers' demented solo nearly revived 'Synchronicity II', but Sting turned 'Walking On The Moon' into a crawl with a questionable bass interlude and some ill-advised scat singing. It was the first of many appearances made by the singer's most annoying vocal tic: ''Eeeee-yo!''
The transition between 'Voices Inside My Head' and 'Driven To Tears' was unusually rough, even though the band has been on the road for more than a month playing the same set. More disappointing was 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', a former pop hit flattened by Sting's disinterested delivery and Copeland's plodding beat.
There was more pseudo-jazz singing from Sting on 'Driven To Tears', but once again Summers came to the rescue with an inside-out solo that pushed the song into a hard-driving finale. More spaced-out noodling sunk 'The Bed's Too Big Without You', and ''eee-yo'' made a reappearance during the otherwise insidiously catchy 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and the silly but fun 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da'.
The Police finally sounded like themselves on a no-nonsense 'Truth Hits Everybody', and during the latter half of the show they began to gallop. Copeland worked over a grid of chiming, jingling percussion on 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'. 'Invisible Sun' roused Sting into his most impassioned vocal of the night, with Summers extracting an eerie chorus effect from his guitar. And the marriage of reggae and rock on 'Can't Stand Losing You' remained unshakable.
By the encore, the band was blitzing through 'So Lonely' and 'Next To You', and delivering a lean, elegantly creepy 'Every Breath You Take'. Even the perpetually scowling Copeland flashed a grin. His review of this show would probably be far kinder than the one he filed on his blog after the band's debut five weeks ago in Vancouver. The drummer termed that show ''unbelievably lame''. This one was more languid than lame. Then the Police woke up, and for about an hour, it felt like 1983 again.
(c) The Chicago Tribune by Greg Kot