Police Reunion

New York City, NY, US
Madison Square Gardenwith Fiction Plane
The Police Dress for Halloween MSG Gig...

The Police's reunion tour returned to New York last night for a Halloween show at Madison Square Garden. While the group delivered the same setlist it has offered most nights this fall, the trio did spice up their performance for the holiday. Frontman Sting took the stage dressed as a jester, guitarist Andy Summers played Charlie Chaplin and drummer Stewart Copeland dressed as a zombie mummy. Throughout the night, Summers stayed in character with both his walk and mannerisms.

Copeland's last Halloween performance took place in 2001 with the supergroup Oysterhead at Denver's Fillmore Auditorium. For the gig Oysterhead sandwiched verses of its 'Armies on Ecstasy' with a take on the Kinks 'All Day and All of the Night' and the Police's 'Walking On The Moon' (at that point a rarity). Later, during the trio's 'Birthday Boys', Trey Anastasio also offered a few lines from some of songs that Jon Fishman often sang with Phish, including 'Love You', 'Bike' and 'Cracklin' Rosie'. For the gig, Anastasio also wore Fishman's signature dress.

The Police will return to Madison Square Garden this Friday, November 2.

(c) Relix by Mike Greenhaus

There's (no longer) a hole in my life...

Appropriate to the Halloween occasion, the band was becostumed in nearly pitch-perfect alter-ego getups. Andy Summers was Charlie Chaplin, from cane to black bowler, but the white face paint and postage-stamp 'stache had the unfortunate effect of making him look too much like Hitler's ghost.

Stewart Copeland was... God knows. The costume was a mishmash of blue Lycra, zombie face paint, spectacles and a Cobra Commando snake tiara thing. It just felt... right.

Sting was Sting. That is, he wore skintight, black-and-gold harlequin jammies that had all the signatures of a ''costume'' but that screamed, ''I am Sting and I could pull this outfit off on any day of the week because, as I've mentioned, I am Sting.'' And the truth is, he could. The man is 56 but looks (and sounds) 26. (And there really was a codpiece. It's not clear if it was part of the costume.)

As a matter of fact, with the minor exception of Summers's gnarled hands, the band looked in outstanding shape. Copeland even took off his shirt in an impromptu wardrobe change to reveal, wait, was that a... six-pack?!? Aren't these people all in the AARP?!?

The thing is, I'm being coy here. I have been a massive Police fan since the asininely titled releases of the band's early days. ('Zenyatta Mondatta'? 'Outlandos D'Amour'? 'Regatta de Blanc'? How 'bout 'Shuddupa Yaface'.) But I had never seen them live, and so I was absolutely ecstatic to be able to finally catch a show. And I was blessedly well seated for it. As my brother, who attended with me, put it, ''You know your seats are good when looking at the video screens is an inconvenience.''

And I will say this: The show completed me. I'm not a music critic and I'm sure there was tons to criticize. And yes, even I know that the parade of greatest hits was served up largely without majorly creative improvising (although the musicianship was, to my ears, pretty damn tight). But that's just how the 19,000-plus of us wanted it. Give me my old favorites, please, loud and pure. Not one lute, zither or dulcimer was imposed upon us by Sting. It was bass, guitar and drums, all the way. And it rocked, over and over again. Here was the order of the magic, with my quick takes:

1. 'Message In A Bottle'. And that message is: We are going to do this right tonight.

2. 'Walking On The Moon'. At this point Sting puts one leg up on a monitor, strokes his codpiece for the stage camera and announces, ''I'm feeling horny. I can't imagine why.'' Next to me, a boomer mom's head explodes.

3. 'Voices Inside My Head'/'When the World Is Running Down'... Great pairing.

4. 'Don't Stand So Close to Me'. Prefaced by Sting saying, ''I used to be a schoolteacher. Now look at me.'' More female heads exploding.

5. 'Driven To Tears'. It is here that I think to myself that Sting really must have one of the top five voices in rock history.

6. 'Hole in My Life'. The raga is in full effect.

7. 'Truth Hits Everybody'. The truth being it really doesn't get much better than this band.

8. 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'. Are you kidding me?! Heaven. Crowd so excited I actually watch a woman spill a full drink on her own head.

9. 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'. On this one, a gong and kettledrum rig rises from the floor for Copeland. Also, I notice for the first time that this song is essentially the same as 'Tea in the Sahara'.

10. 'De Doo Doo Doo...' Still one of my favorites, scatological implications aside.

11. 'Invisible Sun'. Time to sit for the first time. On the screens, a medley of the world's poor children. (The tour's official charity is Water Aid.) During this song, me and the woman in the next seat began to debate how old Sting is, so I Google it on my Treo. Googling Sting's age on my Treo at a Police concert says more about his longevity than anything.

12. 'Walking in Your Footsteps'. Remain seated. I've always despised this song. It does not help that on the screen, a cheesy dino skeleton walks across the images of the band playing. I wish I were kidding.

13. 'Can't Stand Losing You'. Everyone back on their feet. Sting says something about all us ''80,000 New Yorkers'', even though MSG holds 20K max. Clearly his ego automatically multiplies his adoring throngs for him.

14. 'Roxanne'. Yep, they put on the red lights for this one. That said, the generally stripped-down stage gimmicks really make the show. The paean to whoredome officially ends the concert.

First encore:

1. 'King of Pain'. Sting returns to stage sans harlequin hat and mask, and his familiar smirky hotness is finally on full display.

2. 'So Lonely'. My favorite Police song, hands down. Evening complete.

3. 'Every Breath You Take'. Somewhere, P. Diddy is thinking he should get royalties for this one. The band departs again, but Andy ''the Little Tramp'' Summers remains, coaxing us to demand more. So we do.

Second Encore:

1. 'Next To You'. And that's the ballgame.

As they take their bows, Copeland looks genuinely psyched, and points to a dude wearing the best costume in the house: a full-on angel getup - long blond locks, shirtless, tight white pants, huge feathery wings. Copeland points at him, grabs the mike and says, ''Check out that dude!'' and then runs off.

So we, the satisfied crowd, went home. Sting, according to the Post this morning, went to Scores and got outlandos d'amoured by six costumed lap professionals. He earned it.

BTW, the band plays the Garden again on Friday night, and tickets are very gettable on Craigslist. If you're at all a fan, you should go.

(c) Time Out NY Blog by Brian Farnham