Police Reunion

Detroit, MI, US
DTE Energy Music Centerwith Elvis Costello & The Imposters
The Police say a rocking goodbye at DTE...

There was a bit of extra poignancy when Sting sang 'I guess this is our last goodbye' as the Police played Saturday night at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

To a man, Sting and his cohorts - guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland - say this is indeed the last go-round for the Police. With less than two weeks to go in a reunion tour that has cross the glove since May of 2007, they plan to 'fire' each other after the final show Aug. 7 in New York and consign the Police to the past with a finality that didn't occur when they simply stopped working together in 1984.

So if this is indeed farewell (and where have we heard that before, eh?), the trio made sure that parting would be sweet and not necessarily sorrowful on Saturday night with a dynamic, hit-laden performance that kept the packed DTE crowd on its collective feet from start to finish.

Though slightly shorter than the show the Police played last July at the Palace of Auburn Hills, with a more stripped-down stage set featuring a large, crystal-clear HD video screen, it was still a potent display of what made this a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-caliber act and why it was the top-grossing tour of 2007. It starts, of course, with the hits, from the show-opening 'Message In A Bottle' through enduring favorites such as 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', 'Every Little Things She Does is Magic', 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', 'King of Pain', the nicely extended 'Every Breath You Take' and a rambling version of 'Roxanne' that, while crowd-pleasing, somehow needs to be restored to something closer to its punchy three-minute original length.

On top of the sheer impact of the material, however, is the acumen of the three musicians, which has genuinely only improved since the Police's heyday as an active concern. They may not be the musical swashbucklers they were two and a half decades ago (the more relaxed manner of the once frenetic 'Next To You' attests to that), but Sting, Summers and Copeland still play with an arresting balance of virtuostic precision and just enough daring to give the concert a bit of edge. A hypnotic arrangement of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' had Copeland dancing around his percussion ensemble, while the politically pointed 'Invisible Sun', accompanied by images of children in refugee camps, showed some stately restraint.

And for fans more attuned to Sting's outsized personality as both the Police's frontman and as a solo artist, Summers' dominant musical role may have come as something of a revelation. His solos elevated nearly every song but particularly stood out in 'Demolition Man', 'When the World is Running Down' and 'Driven To Tears', while in the absence of keyboards Summers convincingly carried the melodic load in 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'.

As with last year's appearance, this will be one of the concerts we'll still be talking about at the end of the summer - and probably at the end of the year, too. The Police gave us plenty of reasons to miss them when they're gone, but just as many fond memories.

Saturday's show also had the extra oomph of a headline-class opening act in Elvis Costello and his Imposters, whose spirited 55-minute set showcased three songs from their new album, 'Momofuku' - including the rocking 'American Gangster Time' and the soulful 'Flutter & Wow' - but mostly concentrated on material that hearkened back to the Police's active era, including fan favorites such as 'Pump It Up', 'Everyday I Write the Book', 'Less Than Zero', 'Watching the Detectives', 'Peace, Love and Understanding' and 'Radio, Radio'. The highlight, however, was Sting's duet appearance on 'Alison', including a bit of levity when he and Costello fumbled through the closing harmonies and the Police man asked his old friend to stop spitting on him.

(c) Oakland Press by Gary Graff