Police Reunion

Dallas, TX, US
American Airlines Centerwith Fiction Plane
Police are workable, not great...

Just before the house lights dimmed Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, Bob Marley's 'Get Up, Stand Up' wafted over the speakers.

As if the damp, sold-out crowd needed to be told, the moment Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, collectively known as the Police, materialized from the darkness, the throng stood up and stayed there.

The influential band, performing its first Dallas gig in 23 years and the first half of a two-night stand, launched into 'Message In A Bottle', drawing enthusiastic cheers and the assistance of 20,000 backup singers. Sting, whose lithe frame belies his 55 years, sounded as youthful as he did in 1979, when 'Message' first appeared.

The Police sounded loose, even if their on-stage demeanor didn't exactly scream, ''It's good to be back!'' as Sting said before the opening riff of 'Walking on the Moon'.

Indeed, much of the evening's set displayed a peculiar tension: The classics were often reworked in ways imaginative (the exotic, liquid version of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger') and curiously inert (a slow-burn recast of 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' drained much of its urgency), yet the lesser-known cuts - the searing and still relevant 'Truth Hits Everybody' and the pensive 'Invisible Sun' - didn't elicit much response, with most concertgoers using unfamiliar songs for beer runs.

It's an inescapable dilemma for bands making the reunion rounds: How do you placate the fans who shelled out several hundred dollars to hear their favorites while keeping the performances artistically satisfying? The Police seemed to solve that as best they could by painting the classics with subtle new colors and wedging a few of the favorites into the mix.

Workable, perhaps, but not necessarily invigorating. The crowd was ecstatic throughout, but the same couldn't be said for the men of the hour.

(c) Star-Telegram by Preston Jones

The Police at American Airlines Center...

Approximately 25 years after their last Dallas appearance, The Police returned for the first of two shows at the American Airlines Center. Reunion shows of this nature always produce cognitive dissonance for me. Never having seen The Police before, I wanted to have the opportunity to see one of their concerts, knowing all the while that it wasn't exactly 1980. Or 1983. And with ticket prices at obscene levels, it was impossible for the show to live up to the ticket price.

After a mediocre opening set by Fiction Plane, featuring Joe Sumner, son of Sting, the Police took the stage as the PA played Bob Marley's 'Get Up, Stand Up'. The stage was roundish and simple, with a raised platform around the back edge for Sting and Andy Summers to prance around for the benefit of the fans seated behind the stage. The band then proceeded to play essentially a greatest hits show, which is exactly what you would expect with a show of this nature.

To their credit, the band didn't just regurgitate their parade of hits like a giant jukebox. Instead, they rearranged most of the songs, giving them a different live feel to the studio album versions ingrained in everyone's brains. The new arrangements weren't drastically different though, as each song bore enough similarity to the original version so as not to be unsettling to the audience. Sometimes the new arrangements worked well, such as on 'Walking On The Moon', which built to a concluding Andy Summers guitar jam. Other times, like with a herky-jerky 'Synchronicity II', the new arrangements weren't as successful.

All three band members played well and Sting's voice sounded like he was 25. Still, the concert, while enjoyable, didn't quite have the energy level of a top-notch live show. It's tempting to blame the not-so-young audience for being too mellow, or to dismiss the missing energy as a by-product of an older band. However, I have seen a number of bands in The Police's age bracket fairly recently that all had that missing energy component. Springsteen, Rush, Elvis Costello, even Echo and the Bunnymen - all these bands put on a superlative live show despite their relative dinosaur status. Or, in the Police's own world, it's like the difference between the first disc and the second disc of The Police Live! Still, there were some nice moments, like the 'Regatta de Blanc' interlude in the middle of 'Can't Stand Losing You', and the show closing 'Next To You'.

Some other observations:

- All three band members have preserved well and look good, although my wife did comment that Sting looks a lot sexier if you ignore his lower half.

- The words ''Oh my God, I killed Kenny'' were written along Summers' guitar strap.

- The fact that Stewart Copeland played a cool collection of odd percussion instruments set up behind his drum kit during 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' didn't make this song suck any less than it usually does.

- Message to the guy in front of me dressed in a Blues Brothers-esque outfit, complete with sunglasses, who played air guitar throughout the show: You are a toolbag.

- If you want to go to the Wednesday night show, I bet you can get good tickets for cheap. Scalpers appear to be taking a bath with the addition of a second show, the stormy weather, and the release by Ticketmaster of tons of good seats over the last few days.

- The tour setlist has remained pretty much constant, with the exception of 'Spirits In The Material World' and 'Murder By Numbers' dropping off at some point. Here is the setlist for the first Dallas show:

Message In A Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking On The Moon
Voices Inside My Head
When The World Is Running Down
Don't Stand So Close To Me
Driven To Tears
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You
King of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take
Next To You

(c) Pegasus News by Gary Cohen