07.20.2007 - 2007-07-20 HERSHEY, PA: Hersheypark Stadium / The Police: Every little thing was magic...
The Police: Every little thing was magic...
Or have the members lost a little something, having been apart since an acrimonious breakup in 1983?
Press reviews have been generally positive, but drummer Stewart Copeland skewered the band's performance a few dates into the current tour as being less than stellar.
No worries. The sold-out crowd heard bassist-singer Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and Copeland - all looking ridiculously fit - play for a solid two hours-plus with as much fire, intensity and capability as in their younger days, with only a few small steps lost.
Beginning with 'Message in a Bottle' and the vivid tale of corporate drones that is 'Synchronicity II,' the band flourished its greatest strengths - Sting's supple voice and penchant for playing with the beat, Summers' icy-cool shimmers and Copeland's complex cornucopia of percussion tricks.
Sting went in and out on high notes throughout, sometimes tackling them with assertiveness, sometimes taking things down a more comfortable step or two.
A beautifully syncopated 'Walking on the Moon,' with plenty of call-and-response singing and trademark ee-yo-yos, was followed by a medley of 'Voices Inside My Head' and 'When The World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around,' Sting pounding out the bass line with swagger.
It was obvious the band wanted to try out new arrangements - they played very few songs exactly as written, and freely jammed for extended periods, keeping them familiar and renewing them at the same time.
The student-teacher love affair of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' was the first track to have a certain sense of reminiscence - it was less strident, more the quiet tones of an older man remembering his youth.
The pointed message of 'Driven To Tears,' marked by some terrific wailing by Summers (who was stellar) was perhaps more meaningful now than when it was written.
'Truth Hurts Everybody' may have been slowed down a touch, perhaps the better to lead into a wistful take on 'The Bed's Too Big Without You,' buoyed by their customary reggae groove and devilishly complex counter-rhythms.
'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,' too, was more thoughtful musically, more light on its feet. Sting gave the high notes a thorough try but fell just a tad flat.
But he rebounded smartly on a beautifully stately 'Wrapped Around Your Finger,' which was given a more staccato, almost Middle Eastern feel.
Copeland went through a real workout on that track, playing just about everything in sight in his massive percussion arsenal.
A lilting 'De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da' led into a languid but gorgeous 'Invisible Sun,' and Sting had no trouble on the high ones at all in 'Walking in Your Footsteps,' companionably jamming with Summers at the end.
The sharply snotty 'I Can't Stand Losing You' could have been edited a bit to its former punky state, as it was a bit long.
And to hear the signature 'Roxanne' with the full band, after years of watching Sting do it in his solo gigs, was nothing short of magic. It might get played an awful lot, but come on - it's 'Roxanne.'
And they added a middle section of jamming that only built the tension to the final chorus.
A brief walk offstage and they were back for 'King of Pain,' with its enigmatic imagery, a ripping 'So Lonely' that paired reggae bounce with punk thrash, and a very well-sung 'Every Breath You Take,' Sting perfectly fine on every octave.
Another quick break, and the reunited trio wrapped with a dense and still energetic 'Next To You' before taking a hands-joined bow. Will their hands stay joined in a musical sense when the tour ends? No one can say, but to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers share a stage again, for good or for now, was plenty good enough.
Sting's son, Joe Sumner, fronted openers Fiction Plane.
He looks a bit like his dad. He plays bass and sings, like his dad. The band is a trio, like his dad's. On high notes, especially on the wry 'Drink' and the tongue-in-cheek 'Two Sisters,' he sounds eerily like his dad. He jumps off speaker cabinets like his dad.
Nature or nurture? You do the math. He's got a way to go, but he's pretty firmly on his way.
© The Patriot-News by Kira L. Schlechter