A little gray, The Police revive magic...
On stage was an impostor - not to be confused with the Imposters, the three-piece band that spent its Sunday evening providing instrumental accompaniment for geek-chic rocker Elvis Costello.
Eleven songs into Costello's set, a true impostor walked out, someone who didn't quite fit the profile of the band on stage. He found his path to the microphone unimpeded.
The man's cheeks, twin unkempt fields of gray whiskers, were begging for a Bic. His T-shirt was missing a set of sleeves.
The crowd was willing to let the dress code slide. Fans have put up with worse from Sting.
For 20 years, he toured alone, leaving his days with the The Police in rock-and-roll's shadows. He cut ties to The Police and made money off his elastic voice and guitar skills.
So as this reunion tour veers toward an end, as Sting promises to bid goodbye to The Police for a second time after Thursday's Madison Square Garden gig, the schoolteacher-turned-frontman left Jersey with one final Police show to remember.
The cheers arrived early, when Sting snuck on Holmdel's PNC Bank Arts Center stage at 8:09 Sunday night. He joined Costello on 'Alison', stomping his right leg up and down while taking turns with Costello on vocals. Fans late getting to their seats missed quite a moment.
He would return with guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland at 8:47 p.m., opening his band's set with our personal Police favorite - 'Message In A Bottle'.
'New Jersey, how ya doin'?' he asked mid-song. 'Where are you? I can't hear ya.'
He found sleeves for his shirt during this set, but his unshaven beard left him looking a bit like Harrison Ford's character in 'The Fugitive.' Appearances aside - and Sting has aged gracefully, even if he is doing his best to blend in with Summers and Copeland - the man still has a set of pipes. He proved that much during the band's second song of the night - 'Walking On The Moon'.
'Walking back from youuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrr house ...'
The night's best moments came when the audience responded to familiar sets of lyrics. Sting used a gimmick to generate cheers during 'Hole in My Life', inserting pauses that guaranteed the crowd would scream. He got a more natural reaction during the two songs that followed - 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Wrapped Around Your Finger'.
No song triggered more dance-in-your-seat bouts of hysteria than 'Every Little Thing'. This time when Sting paused, the crowd filled in the gaps with lyrics. He was not manufacturing a reaction; he was drawing on the band's hit-filled catalog to acquire one.
It reminded us why we missed The Police - and why we would hate to see Sting bid adieu again.
Costello and the Imposters opened the show with a 12-song set that included 'Pump It Up', 'Everyday I Write the Book' and 'Peace, Love and Understanding'.
The Police wrap up the reunion tour with three additional New York-area shows this week. The group plays the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on Monday and Tuesday night before closing the tour with that Madison Square Garden show on Thursday night.
(c) The Record by Mike Kerwick