Reunion tours are usually slagged by critics as transparent cash grabs that take advantage of fans’ nostalgia. Most of the time, the critics are right. So naysayers had a field day when the Police shocked the music world by announcing its reunion after a near 25-year absence.
But everyone should have seen it coming. No one gave a shit about Sting’s lute album. Stewart Copeland’s projects have been way more about art than commerce. And Andy Summers is freaking 65 years-old. For the Police, the time to cash in on the reunion craze was now. But this reunion was different from others for one fact: The Police disbanded at the top of their game with 1983’s Synchronicity and never grew into an embarrassing self-parody of itself.
Besides, when you can put on a show like the Police did with its sold-out two-hour Cleveland set, all speculation about intentions for reuniting are moot.
From the moment Sting and company took the stripped-down stage and opened with “Message in a Bottle,” and Sting yelled “Hey Cleveland, how ya doin’?” the applause was deafening. It felt like old footage from the Ed Sullivan show, when audiences used to cheer loudly.
Sting may not be able to hit the high notes like he used to, but he certainly didn’t embarrass himself. He occasionally didn’t even need to sing. He let the audience take over on “Roxanne” and “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” Even the more obscure songs like “Walking In Your Footsteps” and the excellent “Truth Hits Everybody” received the sing-along treatment.
The band was on. Sting’s reggae-influenced bass lines were perfect, and Copeland’s agile drumming showed no signs of age on his 55th birthday. He occasionally stood above his drumkit to pound a gong and a smorgasbord of exotic percussion instruments, such as on “Wrapped Around Your Finger” and “Walking In Your Footsteps.”
But the real star of the show was Summers. The guitarist usually played a supporting role in the Police, accentuating Sting’s melodic basslines with jazzy and exotic chords. But tonight he was a great rock guitarist, soloing early and often, including three times during “Driven To Tears.” The only member of the band who was alive during World War II even managed a few sprightly jumps during the more energetic tracks.
Proving that nepotism doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, Fiction Plane, the alt-rock trio fronted by Sting’s son, opened with an impressive set. The band sounded like a heavier version of the Police when their albums had French titles. -- Matt Gorey