08.01.2007 - 2007-08-01 NEW YORK, NY: Madison Square Garden / The Police roll out old siren songs...
The Police roll out old siren songs...
The last time the Police played the city, Ronald Reagan ruled the White House and "Dynasty" dominated the television ratings. Given their long time away, let's just say the band had a lot to live up to.
Luckily, at their first local reunion performance, held at Madison Square Garden last night, the Police retained all the lean sinew and pop flair that made them the world's biggest band back when they last hit town in August 1983 at Shea Stadium. Certainly, they didn't stint on the hits. They stuck almost entirely to their best-known material in a nearly two-hour show that started with a full-throttle take on 'Message in a Bottle'.
In songs like this, or its chaser, 'Synchronicity', Stewart Copeland smacked the drums with a spidery command that made it sound like his arms had quadrupled in reach. Guitarist Andy Summers ran bright rings around the beat, while Sting sent his trademark "oh-eee-ohs" around the arena with boyish ease.
Buoyed by the added years of experience, and a sense of the occasion, the Police took their old numbers at a brisker clip, yielding an almost fat-free performance. Though they rendered the material with the essential reverence fans require, they gingerly shook up some tunes and rhythms for a dash of the fresh.
In 'Walking on the Moon', Summers stitched a solo out of new chord structures. For 'The Bed's Too Big Without You', Sting compacted the melody in the verses. In 'Don't Stand So Close to Me', they turned the chorus tune upside down, making it more reflective.
Only one semiobscure number surfaced, 1978's pop gem 'The Truth Hits Everybody'. But all the material served to underscore the brilliant notion that launched the band - to recast the sensuality of reggae with the resolve of British new wave.
The show could have benefited from more looseness. The furthest they went in that regard were several long, angular guitar solos. But given so long a layoff, the direct approach made sense.
And it's hard to carp about any show that highlighted a catalogue so rich in winning tunes and clever hooks, let alone one that delivered them with so much zest.
© New York Daily News by Jim Farber