Police Reunion

Auckland, NZ
Western Springs Stadiumwith Fiction Plane, Fergie
The Police at Western Springs...

So here we are again - nearly 24 years after the Police last played Western Springs at what was the height of the band's fame and what turned out to be the beginning of the end.

Back then a record 60,000 or so of us packed into the arena in an era before $300-plus front row seats and video screens.

This time 30,000 - well according to Sting but looking rather less - trundled along to the second New Zealand date of the world's biggest rock reunion tour of the past year. And they got what they paid for pretty much - a slick 90-minute wander down the Police's five album-long memory lane with all the bells and whistles.

It leaned heavily on the earlier more poptastic works delivered with an energy and skill which belied the age of the songs or those playing them. But as an occasion, it didn't really feel anything special, just an enjoyable reminder of a once-huge band's impressive hitlist.

Love him or loathe him, Sting was a sexy beast with his beard, amulet, tight T-shirt and trou making him look like he had come straight from his audition for Pirates of the Caribbean IV.

If he made it look easy as the playing of his battered bass and keening voice worked in seemingly contradictory rhythms, his bandmates, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland, were pictures of intense concentration.

Behind the kit or wandering up to his vast percussion rack on 'Wrapped Around My Finger', Copeland was a rhythmic wonder while Summers' effects-heavy guitar with finicky arpeggios reminded how he helped define the sound of the instrument in the '80s.

However, all those muso tendencies did get in the way. Whether it was the jazz orbit that 'Walking On The Moon' spun off into early on, the similar improvisatory urges towards that poor old girl 'Roxanne', or a couple of extended jazz-funk escapades with guitar solos, the interludes only served to remind that those old Police albums sure started to get boring towards the end huh?

But the Police's earlier rock'n' reggae approach still proved highly infectious with all those singalong yo-yo-yos, and de-da-das-das.

Some of the most powerful moments of the night weren't the deep and meaningful numbers, but the fuzzy likes of 'Can't Stand Losing You', 'So Lonely' and the last-encore finale of 'Next To You'.

Yes, it might have got lost a little along the way but the Police proved suitably arresting.

After a forgettable opening set by English unknowns Fiction Plane fronted by Joe Sumner - son and voice-heir of Sting - it was the song and dance extravaganza of solo Black Eyed Pea, Fergie.

The Californian and her dancers sure worked hard to make an impression on an indifferent audience - nice one-handed somersault that woman! - but the rock covers medley that followed the fizzy bubblegum hip-hop hits of her album was excruciating, especially in front of an audience old enough to remember the songs before Fergie's ADD got hold of them.

(c) The New Zealand Herald by Russell Baillie

Prize winners cop treat from Police...

Police fan Jodie Andrew thought she'd be stuck on the sidelines when she turned up to watch her heroes do a sound check at Auckland's Western Springs last night.

But the 32-year-old, who won the chance to meet the legendary British band through a radio competition, was soon having a right old Sting-along with them.

Famous frontman Sting was rehearsing on stage with fellow band members Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland when he invited Jodie, mum Carolynne and four other prizewinners to join in.

''I thought you just looked from the front, but Sting invited us on stage,'' Jodie told Sunday News. ''He waved us up and asked if any of us could sing.

''I got up there and had a sing-a-long and had a good dance around the stage.''

Jodie won the passes to the sound check and concert from classic rock station Radio Hauraki.

She took mum Carolynne along as an early birthday treat and the pair ended up helping Sting belt out two Police classics 'De Do Do Do De Da Da Da' and 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'.

And the 56-year-old star charmed them with his down-to-earth attitude and friendliness.

''He's a real grounded, earthy guy. He's just real casual,'' Jodie said.

Wellsford girl Jodie also revealed how Sting complimented her on her singing and wished Carolynne ''Happy Birthday''.

''It was such an amazing experience, it's kind of a little overwhelming,'' Jodie added.

Last night's concert, which followed Thursday's gig in Wellington, came 28 years after The Police last rocked New Zealand.

The band split 24 years ago but reformed a year ago for another world tour making at least $277 million so far.

The Wellington show kicked off the Australasian leg of the tour and last night thousands of fans flocked to Western Springs.

Hip-hop star Fergie provided a barnstorming opening.

And the former Black Eyed Peas songstress won over fans by waving around a packet of her favourite Kiwi treat pineapple lumps.

She also admitted: ''I've decided I'm going to come back to New Zealand and go fishing. I've tasted some mighty fine fish here ... and I'm a fisherman!''

But Sting, sporting a Greenstone necklace, had a raunchier view of New Zealand when he took to the stage.

''I always like coming here in the summer ... everybody looks as if they have just had sex. Or is it about to have sex?''

(c) The Sunday News by Tammy Buckley

Fergie and The Police performed in a strange double billing at Western Springs in Auckland...

When you're seeing a band who last toured more than two decades ago, you don't expect the biggest fans there to be 12-year-olds.

''Are you here for Fergie?'' I asked one of the pint-sized punters next to me.

''No,'' she said. ''The Police.''

The tweenies seemed to enjoy opener Fergie's high-energy set, but it was clear they were there for the main event.

And that seemed to be the case for most who packed into an almost full Western Springs Stadium.

Many were still filing into the venue when the Black Eyed Peas singer hit the stage at 8.20pm.

After the first couple of songs, including hits London Bridge and Clumsy, the singer added some local flavour by throwing a bag of pineapple lumps into the crowd as a lead-in to a song about her 'lady lumps' - 'My Humps'.

But there was still little response when she urged the crowd to sing along with ''my humps, my humps.''

The set included a medley of snippets from Black Eyed Peas songs and, in a surprising but smart nod to her audience, a handful of classic rock covers.

There was no repeat of Wellington's wardrobe mishap, when she played the first three songs with the fly of her white trousers open.

But she left the stage twice during the 40-minute set for costume changes, leaving her dancers and musicians to keep the crowd entertained.

A 'dance off' costume break proved to be one of the show's highlights.

The Police brought the crowd straight to their feet with the first track, 'Message In A Bottle'.

''It's good to be back. It only took us 27 years,'' Sting said.

He looked in good shape for a 56-year-old, but there was still no excuse for the super-tight trousers and cut-off T-shirt exposing his midriff.

Drummer Stewart Copeland was channeling the '80s in bandanna and gloves, and dived between drums and an elaborate percussion set-up which rose from the stage behind him.

The trio looked to be relaxed and enjoying themselves on stage.

But momentum dropped at times as they alternated between hits - 'Walking On The Moon', 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', 'I Can't Stand Losing You' - and lesser known tracks.

The heavy-handed images of sad, wide-eyed children being displayed on the big screens behind the band was a low point.

The main set ended with a lengthy and strangely flat version of 'Roxanne' - with Sting chosing not to stretch his voice to all the high notes he used to.

A first encore included 'King of Pain', 'So Lonely' and 'Every Breath You Take'.

The crowd were thrilled to have them return a second time - though guitarist Andy Summers didn't bother leaving the stage, prefering to stay and milk the applause.

And just in case we'd forgotten the fresh-faced and youthful popstars they were, the final song was accompanied by shots of the band in their hey day.

That's something the 12-year-old beside me wouldn't remember - but that didn't stop her enjoying every minute.

''It was so good,'' she gushed. ''I loved it.''

(c) Stuff.co.nz by Heather McCracken