The Police reunion tour got off to a shaky start, but Matt Wardlaw says Monday night’s sold-out show at the Q exceeded expectations:
It's Monday night in Cleveland. Sting is on stage at the Quicken Loans Arena, but Sting is always on stage somewhere. Something is different tonight, though. Is that Andy Summers on guitar, and could that really be Stewart Copeland behind the drum kit? I thought these guys hated each other, right?
But the unthinkable has come to pass. The Police are on stage together again, and the reviews have not been completely kind.
Sure, many of the songs have been adjusted in key to accommodate Sting's aging vocal range, and the band admitted before the tour that the trio's musical stylings would be augmented with canned backing vocal tracks lifted straight from the albums. Take all of this into account, and judge it as you will. But you absolutely cannot deny the monster that is the Police live in 2007.
In fact, the band is playing better collectively as a unit now than they did back in the day. Playing on his birthday, Copeland was a madman, dashing through his multi-level percussive jungle as the band launched with the crowd-pleasing one-two punch of “Message In A Bottle” and “Synchronicity II.” In their heyday, Sting criticized Copeland for playing too fast, and while I don't think the drummer has mellowed, he does have a better harness on his overall playing. He maintains the same intensity as a player, without barreling ahead like a runaway train.
As for Summers, at 64 years of age, he is nearly a decade older then the other two members, yet delivered solo after solo that would have Eddie Van Halen taking notes.
Much has been made of the hits, which are not necessarily being delivered note-for-note on this tour -- which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Sting’s solo shows. Thankfully, the singer didn’t work any lute solos into any of the night's performances, and all material that was creatively reworked felt proper; the songs rode close to the edge of over-indulgence without plunging over.
They stretched out on the songs that demanded it, as in “When The World Is Running Down.” The band delivered straight renditions of favorites including the incomparable “Roxanne,” which closed the main set. A triple round of encores included obligatory hits, “King of Pain” and “Every Breath You Take,” followed by the less expected “So Lonely” and a blazing set-closer in the form of “Next To You.”
Leave 'em wanting more? Mission accomplished. -- Matt Wardlaw