Police Reunion

Boston, MA, US
Comcast Centerwith Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Case closed: Police go out with a bang...

As the final note was still ringing in the ears of concertgoers, the video camera operator at the Comcast Center trained his lens on a roadie holding up a clear drum head with the words 'That's All Folks!' written on it.

A few of the roughly 16,000 people walking out of the Police's final show in the Bay State may have been hopeful that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-enshrined group wouldn't make good on the promise to call it quits again, but chances are pretty good that bassist-frontman Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland, and guitarist Andy Summers will not be pulling the familiar farewell tour bait-and-switch. (The trio plans to end its tremendously successful 14-month reunion trek in six days with a benefit for public television at Madison Square Garden.)

Which is why it would be thrilling to report that they bid adieu in spectacularly mind-blowing fashion, playing past curfew and having to be dragged off the stage. They didn't.

But this is one of the most musically gifted groups in rock history, so they were pretty terrific playing a 100-minute set that hit peaks of magnificence and was never less than impeccably tasteful. While the show sometimes simmered instead of boiled over - notably on a muted 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' and the flaccid-tempo 'Roxanne' - the set list was a well-curated mix of hits and album cuts.

The tightly wound riff of 'Message In A Bottle' got things rolling and the bubbling 'Walking On The Moon' offered the first 'ee-yo-yo' of many. Sting - sporting a sheer, bicep-hugging shirt and a scruffy beard - was in good spirits and voice, shying away from high notes in some songs but keening wildly in others and reminding that his elastic bass work was as distinctive as his howl.

Copeland was, as ever, a hive of activity, seemingly sprouting extra limbs to conjure the polyrhythms of 'When the World Is Running Down...' and stretching back and forth between his elaborate percussion setup and his kit for 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' and 'King of Pain'. Summers may have been less visibly animated, but the fire was alive in his inventive fretwork, especially on a wickedly piquant solo during 'So Lonely'.

The staging was minimal, with just a few nods to the 'Ghost in the Machine' LED-light album cover and photos of children in war-torn and poverty-stricken countries.

All too quickly the encores arrived and the band - with help from an adolescent, blond bass player who we're guessing belonged to Sting - signed off with 'Next To You'.

Elvis Costello and the Imposters opened with a varied 55-minute set that included tracks from his latest release 'Momofuku' and tunes like 'Watching the Detectives' that stretched back to that same fertile period in the mid-'70s that produced the headliners.

(c) Boston Globe by Sarah Rodman

Police bang ends in whimper...

It takes talent to deviate from the script and still land on your feet.

And yet, The Police haven't just deviated; they've been progressively rewriting their script in front of audiences for the past 14 months.

The celebrated Brit trio's reunion tour may be nearing a close, and the set list at their sold-out Comcast Center gig last night barely changed since last summer, but the songs and performance have evolved considerably.

Throughout the 95-minute show, Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland took jazzy liberties galore with tunes that traversed the lines between new wave, punk, reggae and funk. The lack of a keyboard player layering synthetic textures over the band's organic music is a huge contributing factor to its unusual sound, largely built around Sting's sinewy bass and drummer Copeland's polyrhythmic mayhem.

Say what you will about Sting, but in concert, he's on impressive double duty, manning the bottom end with his instrument and creating melody with his sandpapery pipes - it's a tricky maneuver that he pulls off with ease.

The improv began just two songs in, during 'Walking On The Moon', which boiled over into an open-ended jam buoyed by Summers' coiling guitar riffs while Copeland got the upper-body workout of a lifetime.

Sting's vocal delivery continually rearranged the furniture in rooms you thought you knew like the back of your hand: 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', 'Driven To Tears', 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' and a particularly punchy 'Can't Stand Losing You' all took on new character from his relentless modulations.

For 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', Copeland whipped up a rumbling kettle drum, then punctuated with chimes and other percussion.

Six encore tunes was generous, but the choices and their deliveries were the least engaging of the evening: 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'So Lonely' all came across predictably. By that point, however, the band had already unleashed a cavalcade of surprising twists, making a few ho-hum, by-the-book crowd pleasers entirely forgivable.

Elvis Costello's opening set with the Imposters began with a saber-toothed version of 'Stella Hurts', one of several cuts unveiled from his new 'Momofuku' CD. Costello was in superior voice, enabling him to compete with his band's deafeningly raw delivery, which let up during the acoustic, gospel-laced 'Dust'. Steve Neive's trademark carousel organ pumped new personality into 'Every Day I Write the Book', and Sting came out and joined them for a triumphant 'Alison'.

(c) Boston Herald by Christopher John Treacy

Police start slow, catch up...

The Police took a while to get going last night at the Comcast Center, but they eventually got there.

The trio of bassist-singer Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland have been on the road for 14 months on a reunion tour that ends next week and included several area appearances, including at Fenway Park last summer. At first, it sounded like the miles might have gotten to them, especially compared with the Fenway show, as they began with nothing-special versions of 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Walking On The Moon'. They whanged into 'Demolition Man' but lolled through a 'Don't Stand So Close to Me' in which the entrance into the chorus, a whip-crack on record, was last night a muted thud.

They geared up for good during the grafting of 'Voices Inside My Head' to 'When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around', when Summers took an extended guitar solo in the latter piece with plenty of his trademark dissonances. At that, they seemed to wake up.

The following 'Driven To Tears' began with the fast section that ends it on record, and lost nothing when it cut the clangor for the verses. And from there, the band took off, with a bouncy 'Hole in My Life' (one of many of their songs that mix a reggae lilt in the verses with a new-wave drive in the choruses) that stuck the dismount.

Sting, as a solo artist of long standing, is a known entity, and his suave purr of a voice and bubbling bass playing were on display as usual, but Summers and Copeland again lifted the band above solo-Sting territory, with the nearly spastic Copeland acting as the engine room of the band, dishing out exploding reggae- and jazz-based fills with a manic look in his eye (and playing parts of 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' and 'King of Pain' on a giant percussion setup), and Summers belying his laconic manner with extended dissonant, often Eastern-based, solos.

The trio is just that, still with none of the additional musicians who were on the last tour of their first incarnation (although there were a few canned backing vocals and percussion last night). So a lot of the songs were stripped of the sheen of their recorded versions. While occasionally this resulted in half-hearted attempts to re-create the studio moments, such as on 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', it mostly gave Copeland and especially Summers the chance to shine, with, among others, 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' and 'Every Breath You Take' getting as close to a garage-band treatment as they're likely to get. And it's heartening to see that a band their age is doing this well with less, not more, augmentation.

They only played an hour before doing the fake good-night-we're-leaving-oh-gee-I-guess-we'll-do-an-encore, the first of which was a meandering 'Roxanne,' but then included a reworked opening to 'King of Pain,' with bass chords and Copeland on his percussion kit, and an extended 'So Lonely' in which the volume ebbed and flowed but the energy never did. 'Every Breath You Take' and 'All I Want Is to Be Next To You' wrapped up the 95-minute show.

Elvis Costello and The Imposters opened the show with classics including 'Alison' (with a guest vocal by Sting), 'Pump It Up' (suitably snarling and guitar-heavy), 'Clubland' and 'Every Day I Write the Book' (both of which badly missed the polish of their recorded versions), along with four songs from his latest album, Momofuku, most notably the rambling 'Turpentine' and the lovely ballad 'Flutter and Wow'.

Probably due to current events, the closing 'What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?' pounded with even more anthemic power than on the record, while Nieve leavened it with piano quotes from 'Singin' In the Rain', 'Theme from A Summer Place' and 'In Other Words'.

(c) Providence Journal by Rick Massimo