Police Reunion

Mountain View, CA, US
Shoreline Amphitheatrewith Elvis Costello & The Imposters
An arresting show by Sting and the Police - At Shoreline, they sounded far better than a year ago in Oakland...

The Police didn't need any backup this time.

The show Monday at Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre promised to be one of the great double-bills of the season, with the reunited mega-trio - which will make its final Bay Area appearance tonight at Concord's Sleep Train Pavilion - being joined by another distinguished alum from the London new wave class of '77, Elvis Costello & the Imposters (ne the Attractions).

But Costello's usually passionate voice was hamstrung by hoarseness; he didn't give the crowd anything to get excited about until the end of his set, when Sting was beckoned out to sing on 'Alison'.''

Fortunately, the Police stepped up, delivering a 100-minute set that found a satisfying balance between the adrenalin-charged days of old and the realities of the band's current age, interests and energy level.

It was a marked improvement from the reunited band's first Bay Area appearance last year at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum, just two weeks into the band's commercially colossal comeback tour. Now with more than 100 shows under their its belts, in a more congenial setting, the reunited Police reminded us what the fuss was all about.

Overall, the contours of the show were similar: It opened with a Stewart Copeland gong crash that kicked off an assured 'Message In A Bottle' and closed with 'Next To You' - fun, but without the headlong rush it had on the band's debut LP 31 years ago.

Where there were changes to the set list, it was to make things tighter, punchier and better suited to the power-trio lineup. Gone was Sting's Pan flute excursion on 'Walking in Your Footsteps', replaced by a fiery 'Demolition Man', with some uncharacteristically crunchy guitar from Andy Summers. Goodbye, ponderous 'Spirits in the Material World'. Hello, playful 'Hole in My Life', complete with a little ass-wiggling by Sting.

Even with a week's worth of gray scruff on his face, the 56-year-old frontman and bassist remains rock's ultimate tantric sex symbol. The sinewy singer-songwriter wore skintight, long-sleeved garb that looked like the top half of a superhero's get-up: Call him Yogaman. Many vocal lines had been shifted down from the stratospheric heights of old, but every ''ee-yo-yo-yo'' still came through loud and clear.

Throughout, there was a pleasing tension between the tight songcraft of the original records and the mature musicians' desire to stretch out. The dynamic worked perfectly on a thrilling 'Can't Stand Losing You' that closed the main set.

One gripe: The Police have been tinkering with 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' since '86, slowing it down and smoothing it out, and they haven't gotten it right yet. With just 15 shows left before they hang up their badges for the last time, it doesn't look as if they're going to. Too bad.

(c) San Jose Mercury News by Shay Quillen (with contributions by Jim Harrington)

Everything the Police did was magic at Shoreline...

Talk about a turn-around! Was it even the same group of guys onstage Monday night (July 14) at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View that performed 13 months ago at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland?

I was less than impressed with what I saw back in Oakland, but I was thrilled with the Police's gig at Shoreline. What a difference 13 months makes. This time around, the band was rock solid and the tunes came together perfectly onstage. Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers have definitely found the right balance between the past and the present in terms of presenting the music. The songs felt fresh, alive and exciting, yet they were still close enough to the original arrangements to allow fans to sing along.

Sting sounded quite strong, and Summers was as capable as ever, but it was Copeland who really impressed. That guy is a percussion maniac and I could watch him drum all night.

In all, the Police, so disappointing in its last visit to the Bay Area, finally managed to live up to its legend at Shoreline. Those planning to attend the band's gig on Wednesday (July 16) at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord should definitely be excited.

The pairing of the Police and Elvis Costello on Monday night at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View was arguably the summer's most promising double header. Yet the opener couldn't hold up his end of the bargain.

The 53-year-old rocker was surprisingly bad throughout his short set, turning in uninspired versions of his greatest hits and acting like he'd rather be anywhere but at Shoreline.

The crowd's reaction mirrored Costello's enthusiasm level. For much of his performance, the number of people in the reserved section who were actually standing and dancing could basically be counted using a single set of fingers and toes. Costello didn't give the crowd anything to get excited until the end of the set, when Sting was beckoned out to sing on 'Alison'.

(c) San Jose Mercury News by Jim Harringon