09.04.2007 - 2007-09-04 BIRMINGHAM: National Indoor Arena / The Police: Still a force to be reckoned with...
The Police: Still a force to be reckoned with...
Thirty years after they took their first stumbling steps towards pop stardom, the Police are back on stage in Britain. On Tuesday night in Birmingham the band began the British leg of a world tour that has already been seen by a million in North America - and it is undoubtedly one of the hottest tickets in pop for some years.
They last played together in Britain in 1983, but their subsequent break-up was more of a fizzling out than a proper split.
Although personal relationships between the three were somewhat dysfunctional, they were still hugely successful, and, as guitarist Andy Summers recently pointed out, their creative juices were still flowing. But somehow they just drifted into their various solo projects.
So, apart from raking in huge sums of money, this tour could be seen as a bit of unfinished business for Summers, singer and songwriter Sting, and drummer Stewart Copeland.
But are those creative juices still flowing? Can this famously accomplished trio still cut the mustard? The answer is that they most surely can.
Within the first few bars of the opening song, 'Message in a Bottle', it was clear that the tightness, the cohesion, the glue that used to mark them out as a great band is still there. And energy, too: with barely a pause for breath, they launched into the ferocious 'Synchronicity II', a complex song whose changes of pace they handled seamlessly.
"The last time we played here was in 1983," said Sting. "I had a broken hand, Andy had some kind of kidney stone. We are in better shape tonight." Quite so. The video screens above the stage revealed a band who, though a little jowlier than they were back then, are hardly in the grip of the ravages of middle age.
It's a tricky business, being a three-piece band. There is no room for self-indulgence; everyone has to be working for the common cause, otherwise it all starts to sound a bit thin.
The Police, though, show that they are dead good at it. Sting's propulsive bass-playing; Copeland's crisp, busy but unfussy drumming; the elegant economical chord work of Summers - all this added up to something tense and muscular.
At times, perhaps, they pushed their luck and spent a bit too long indulging themselves rather than entertaining the crowd, banging away while the fans looked on a little bewildered.
It has to be said, too, that this was a night that may have shimmered and bristled with energy, but it never quite exploded into life. The crowd seemed subdued, and it would have helped if the band had jumped around a bit.
But still, it was fun and genuinely exciting to see them together again, and in the end they delivered a string of hits - 'I Can't Stand Losing You', 'Roxanne', 'Every Breath You Take' - that had the fans finally roaring and stamping their feet.
© The Daily Telegraph by David Cheal