The Police satisfy in reunion tour at Scottrade
By Kevin C. Johnson
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH POP MUSIC CRITIC
The Police honestly had to do little more than show up Monday night at the Scottrade Center.
That alone would be worth the wait – and expense -- for many of the 20,000 or so fans who came to the St. Louis stop of the classic rock trio’s unlikely reunion tour, which is shaping up into the concert tour of the year. After all, it’s been over two decades since Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland have gotten together for a trek like this.
But the classic rockers did a lot more than show up and collect their massive paychecks at the near sold-out gig Monday (only rear of stage upper-level seats were left).
The reggae sounds of a piped-in "Get Up, Stand Up" by Bob Marley appropriately brought out the three gentlemen, who unleashed the equally familiar chords of their own "Message in a Bottle," performed faithfully on a big, open stage with a ramp circling the back of the stage.
The large stage gave the band plenty of room to move, and it turns out they needed it. That’s not to allow for space to better hold egos or maintain any residual strain between band members. If there was any of that, it wasn’t obvious between singer Sting, guitarist Summers, and drummer Copeland, who were still often connecting and clicking where it counts. Copeland in particular came off like a real MVP.
What the Police needed the extra room for were the songs themselves at times. Rather than rest on its laurels and just pump out the hits the way they were recorded, the rock-reggae band gets points for using this opportunity to stretch some of its biggest hits into new shapes and sizes, even when it didn’t always work. The heavily-debated reinterpretations could be as creative as they were aggravating.
"Voices Inside My Head," an example of the latter, felt tentative and grooveless – words that could’ve never described the song originally. When "Voices Inside My Head" transitioned to the hyperactive "When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around," it didn’t sound so much like as segue as it did as if it had been aborted.
"Don’t Stand So Close to Me" posed a particular challenge for the band, Copeland told the Post-Dispatch last week, to the point the band is considering dropping it. While the song wasn’t as poor as Copeland suggested, it’s also nothing especially memorable either.
The wailing "Synchronicity II," bouncy "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and the percussive "Wrapped Around Your Finger" were among the songs close enough to their original versions to keep those resistant to change happy.
And the guys couldn’t go wrong with "Roxanne," from obviously bathing the set in red light to expanding the song, taking it in different directions as if it were the jam of the year, and bringing it back during the encore. The encore also included a stirring "King of Pain" and easy-going "Every Breath You Take."
The boyish Sting, in strong enough voice, didn’t address the crowd often, but he did twice try to recall the name of the St. Louis nightclub where the band played its first-ever St. Louis concert. He felt relieved when fans reminded him that was Mississippi Nights. He joked it was back in 1875; the Police made its St. Louis debut there on March 16, 1978 (the show drew about a dozen people).
The two-hour, frills-free show felt as if it moved too quickly, and may have even had a "is that all there is?" feel for some. It’s not the slam-dunk, off-the-rails bonanza it could’ve been. And one could argue that a couple of songs be deleted from the set list to make room for "Demolition Man" and "Spirits in the Material World (which had been in the set).
Still, the band’s adventuresome nature, and the fact they may never tour again, easily made it the one water cooler musical event that’ll leave fans talking for a long time to come.
The opening slot on the Police tour went to Fiction Plane, a band that probably didn’t have to work too hard to get this prime gig. Fiction Plane lead singer Joe Sumner is Sting’s son – not that Fiction Plane is anything less than deserving. Songs from the band’s new CD "Left Side of the Brain" proves Fiction Plane has some of what it takes, including Sumner’s boasting a voice so close to his father’s it was almost eerie.
Thanks for the info, going to see them 7/16 Cleveland, OH.