Police wow crowd with hits at first stop on tour
Published Tuesday, May 29, 2007 9:19AM EDT
VANCOUVER - The legendary punk-inspired reggae-rock band The Police kicked off its high-energy reunion tour Monday by delivering a powerhouse performance, wowing fans with hit after megahit for more than two hours straight.
The trio of singer-bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland opened with "Message in a Bottle," as fans took to their feet for the group's 1979 smash hit. "How you doin'?" asked Sting, to a collective roar from spectators.
Most of the sold-out crowd of 20,000 fans at General Motors Place stayed standing for much of the show, whose second song featured a six-minute rendition of 1982's "Synchronicity."
The cross-generational crowd swayed to the music, offering up thunderous applause to the group that hasn't played a stadium since 1984, when it split up at the height of its success.
Some fans were in for a nostalgic night of worshipping a band that has made several trips to Vancouver while others, who weren't even born when the group split up, were out for a rocking good time with a group whose music has never gone out of style.
The band was tight, led by a buff-looking 55-year-old Sting dressed in a casual, sleeveless T-shirt that showed off his well-toned biceps as he strut his stuff across the stage - for brief stints anyway - on some numbers.
The simplicity of the set, featuring two ovals ringed with lights, complemented the complexity of the songs by the trio of musicians who have enjoyed solo careers since they last stoked a stadium full of fans.
Many in the crowd were undoubtedly in diapers when they first sang "De do do do, De da da da" from the band's 1980 album Zenyatta Mondatta.
A melodic, sensual version of "Wrapped Around Your Finger" featured 64-year-old Summers's strengths with the guitar riffs, 54-year-old Copeland's drumming prowess and Sting's magic on the bass, eliciting some of the biggest crowd reaction.
"Roxanne" a tune about a letter to a prostitute that the band sang at the Grammy Awards in February before announcing its world tour, was among the biggest crowd pleasers.
"Roxanne, oh!" fans yelled back as a bespectacled Copeland, the band's powerful drum machine, belted out the beat and Sting swayed his guitar like a baby.
The personality of each band member shone through on each number - in-control frontman Sting, a laid-back Summers and comedian Copeland, who during "Walking in Your Footsteps" began running around his drum set.
"Stewart, stay!" quipped Sting, much to the crowd's delight.
Most of the songs were rearranged only slightly and arguably better than their original versions.
An uptempo "Every Breath You Take" put the spotlight on Sting's vocals that got quite the workout during the non-stop show.
The Police churned out a total of 21 hits during the concert, four during its encore that included "King of Pain," "So Lonely," "Every Breath You Take" and ending with a hard-rocking version of "Next to You," fitting for a crowd that had clearly bonded with the band.
The last tune included a backdrop of black-and-white footage from the group's heyday in the mid 1980s, when the love affair with many fans began.
Clearly, the love never went away for thousands who regard the Police as one of the most revered bands of the 80s.
The trio that reportedly had an acrimonious split before mending fences, were having as good a time as their fans.
All three held hands and bowed to the audience before hugging each other and walking off the stage after Copeland sent out a few victory yells.
Several generations of Police fans packed Vancouver's GM Place to catch the kickoff of the mega-band's world tour.
Vince Dovidio, 50, said the trio were better than he'd expected.
"They sounded really tight and put together. I just thought it was so well done and for them to play two hours straight without a break or anything was really unbelievable."
Dovidio said he didn't think the band would ever reunite after 23 years but were obviously glad they did.
"They looked like they really enjoyed being together. They looked good together, they looked happy and the crowd got into it because of that."
James Lumsden, 22, wasn't yet born when the Police broke up.
Lumsden said he got into their music from hearing it on the radio, from friends and because his mom likes the music.
"I really enjoyed the fact that Sting's guitar and shirt looked like he had saved them from the 70s," he said.
Lumsden said he enjoyed the show so much that he'd go again at the band's next sold-out Vancouver show on Wednesday if he had tickets.
Dietmar Cloes flew from Germany to catch all three of the Police's Vancouver shows - including a private concert for fan club members on Sunday, fulfilling a lifetime dream.
"I had to see them once in my life," he said.
"I'm such a big fan, I collect every bit. But one thing was missing and that was a live concert."
The band's exclusive fan-only Sunday show was a bit of a disappointment but Cloes had higher hopes for the other performances.
Dave Olson, 39, of North Vancouver, said he didn't sense this tour was a cash-grab.
"A lot of times when bands get back together I say it's because someone's got alimony payments," he said. "But it doesn't seem like it so much this time."
The long-awaited reunion tour kicked off with the son of Sting fronting the opening act.
Fiction Plane's lead vocalist and bassist Joe Sumner flew on to the stage Monday night sounding hauntingly similar to his father, also known as Gordon Sumner.
The younger Sumner joined bandmates guitarist Seton Daunt and drummer Pete Wilhoit with hits from their second CD "Left Side of the Brain."
From Vancouver, the Police will head to Edmonton and later hit Montreal and Toronto.
Media from across Europe covered the first stop on a tour that will include cities in North and South America, Europe and Australia by the time it wraps in early 2008.