Police Reunion

Columbus, OH, US
Nationwide Arenawith Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Police sting Columbus - Show fizzles rather than sizzles...

They may all be over the age of 54, but that doesn't affect their ability to rock - for the most part.

The Police played Sunday night to an initially sold out Nationwide Arena, which began clearing out not even halfway through their set.

It was almost as if the band neglected to have a sound check. Guitarist Andy Summers was seen speaking to a backstage attendant and gesturing to his guitar, which sounded, for lack of a better phrase, really loud.

It was so loud, in fact, that during 'Demolition Man' and 'Synchronicity II', Sting's vocals were almost completely drowned out.

However, Summers did prove that he can more than shred on his beloved Stratocaster, making up for the ear-splitting volume of his playing by showcasing his obviously untarnished ''ripping'' chops.

For those less-than-avid Police fans, here is a quick history lesson. The band split in the mid-eighties, and has since reunited for a 2007-2008 world tour, coinciding with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of their breakout hit single, 'Roxanne'.

Having sold over 50 million records worldwide, the band is known for their revolutionary pop-punk-reggae sound and is listed in Rolling Stone Magazine as number 70 on their list of ''100 Greatest Artists of All Time.''

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 11, 2003.

After working out the proverbial and literal kinks, an impressive live show presented itself.

Great performances of 'Message In A Bottle' and ''Can't Stand Losing You'' made up for a few sketchy bass moments on Sting's behalf and the overall harshness of the sound.

A noted difference was heard in the lack of range of lead singer Sting's voice.

Transposing his formerly high-pitched vocals down an octave for songs such as 'Roxanne' and 'Walking On The Moon', although you couldn't tell by looking at him, with his bulging biceps and lean figure, it was evident that, at least vocally, these guys are no longer spring chickens.

Undeniably, however, the band was highly entertaining, energetic and excited to play the oldies.

Drummer Stewart Copeland incorporated the use of a gong and a xylophone-like instrument to enhance 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' and provided non-stop ''stick'' tricks and flicks to impress the crowd.

All in all, the crowd and the band may have aged, but most of their music and songs have remained the same.

Hopefully you caught the band this time around because, according to Sting, ''There will be no new album, no big new tour, once we're done with our reunion tour, that's it for The Police.''

(c) Tan & Cardinal by Andrea Bolt

Arena setting diminishes music...

Look, anyone who graduated from high school in 1979 (me) and cut his teeth on rock music of that era is intimately familiar with the Police.

And even if the Police were not one of your (mine) favorite bands, still theirs is the soundtrack to an era.

Last night, the Police played to an almost but not quite soldout Nationwide Arena and, as advertised, they played almost all the hits mostly the way they were recorded lo those many years ago.

Early into the trio's set Sting asked the crowd if they were ready to sing along. The request was perfunctory. Anyone who has heard a Police song knows the chorus and can't help singing along.

And yet.

Usually, we write reviews in an impersonal voice but that kind of artificial distance would ring untrue to me here. Seldom have I attended a concert I was so excited to see, of a band I admired greatly and yet came away feeling, well, disappointed.

Maybe the Police don't translate to big arenas. After all, so much of their music is so ambient. The band opened with 'Bring on the Night' from the 1979 disc 'Regatta de Blanc', an ambient tune that nicely set the stage for what was to come.

Only, what was to come was mostly more ambient music.

What can you expect, after all, from a band whose best lyrics are ''de do do do de da da da'' and ''ee oo oo / oo oo oo''?

I'm not trying to pick a fight. Like anybody else my age (and the crowd was mostly my people, and my people's children) I know all these Police songs by heart.

It was actually fun when the band would begin a classic tune in a different key or with a different guitar lead (say, on 'Don't Stand So Close to Me') only to realize that, yes, I could indeed sing along.

Before you fire up your computer and begin your screed against this review, I ask only this: Were you one of the folks who gently swayed to the music? One of the folks who had their hands in their pockets while singing along?

If so, then we probably agree - last night was a blast, but it wasn't life-changing.

Random thoughts about the show:

- Nice transition from 'Bring on the Night' to the more up-tempo 'Demolition Man'.

- After all these years, Sting still has an otherwordly voice, the one that made Billy Joel drive off the road and stop his car to listen to 'Roxanne'.

- Last night's show was about as low-tech as an Allman Brothers show. Most of the graphics seemed cribbed from the 'Syncronicity' tour. In a way, lame, but also appropriate. The spare delivery allowed the songs to take center stage, which is just where these classics belong.

- Stewart Copeland is a monster percussionist, whether he's banging away on a rock song or tinkling his second kit (situated just above his primary kit).

- Andy Summers looks like an aging member of the House of Lords or, more charitably, like a captain in the Hornblower series of novels. His guitar playing was efficient if never spectacular.

- The Police never pandered. They never struck phony rock 'n' roll poses, never succumbed to the clich├ęs of the genre. This allowed the songs to take (and own) center stage.

- It's easier to reunite when there are only three band members involved and all three members are still alive. (See: The Who)

- There was no pandemonium. There was little fire. But the Police, on the strength of their songs, did manage to put on a terrific show.

(c) The Colombus Dispatch by Bill Eichenberger