The Police reunion concert in St. Paul last night

Two negative reviews in both our local papers, the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, for last night's reunion performance by The Police! Snippy snippy snippy! Now, I know from reading 20 years worth of rock journalism that music writers love to rip on Sting, and the criticisms are always the same (boring, aloof, slow, jazzy, arrogant, detached, tantric-whatever), but I was there last night in St. Paul, and I thought it was the most joyous and fun arena rock show I'd ever seen (and I've seen U2, REM, Beck, Neil Young, Styx, Journey, and Springsteen in similar venues).

Allow me to say what you won't read in the music press:
STING: vocally, he was out-of-this-world. Pitch perfect, and nailing essential stratospheric high notes, while occasionally singing tasty alternate melodies here and there to save his voice (a perfectly respectable thing to do if you're the only singer in a band requiring you to wail every night for two hours at age 55). And yes, Bono still sounds great vocally, but Sting is even better. His bass playing rocked, and I loved watching him use his instrument and bass foot-pedals to mimic the album-version keyboard parts on songs like "Don't Stand So Close to Me."

STEWART: I've wanted to see this master drummer in person since my childhood, and he did not disappoint. 'Twas extra fun to see him jumping around playing orchestral percussion on a special riser behind the drum kit!

ANDY: Like Sting cutely sings on "So Lonely": "Welcome to the Andy Summers show!" Indeed, Andy is the sonic glue that makes this band so amazing in concert. It takes a brilliant guitarist to play an arena gig with only a trio(!!!) and Summers' playing and mastery of effects filled every sonic space needed. I felt the same way about The Edge on the most recent U2 show...these guitarists-in-a-trio have a huge responsibility, and Summers was on fire last night. On the Police recordings he's so often providing atmosphere and rhythm that the listener can't appreciate his skill as a lead player...but last night he got to step into the spotlight and prove himself as a 65-year-old guitar hero. Amazing. His mannerisms were serious and understated, but his fingers provided the fireworks.

My only criticisms might be that on the biggest hits ("Roxanne," "Can't Stand Losing You," "Every Breath You Take," "Message in a Bottle") that Sting engages in the same stretched out audience sing-alongs that he's been doing for 30 years (including the three times I've seen him solo). But for me, the reason to see this show was to hear other Police tunes, slightly reworked...I was in awe of "Synchronicity II," "Invisible Sun," "Walking on the Moon," "De Doo Doo Doo," "Wrapped Around Your Finger," "Don't Stand So Close To Me" (more relaxed, in a lower key, but lovely), and "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" (where only three guys can effectively re-interpret the big-production album version.

One of the negative reviews called the show "sloppy," but for me it was those human musical inconsistencies that proved that the concerts was performed by three real people, with no hidden back-up instrumentalists (like U2 reportedly use). There were moments (during "Every Breath" specifically) where the band members got a bit lost and had to watch each other to get the train back on track, but they handled it expertly, and were obviously enjoying themselves so much that it hardly mattered. And of course, if they were technically flawless, the press would have called them "slick," "lifeless," and "mechanical." I thought the show was full of heart, energy, fun, and freakin' awesome songs, singing, and playing.

One more thing...we sat in the balcony, BEHIND the stage, on the Sting side, and it was probably the best seating (in the cheapest seats!) I've ever had at an area show. It was a music-nerd paradise, with a prime aerial view of Stewart's drum kit, and a behind-the-scenes view of Sting's set-list tele-prompter and bass-pedal-board. The band members were very good about spinning around to address the fans behind them, spittin'-distance away, and the huge video monitor gave us clear shots of their faces and the view from the front of the stage.

Sting left the stage with a hopeful farewell message of "We'll see you again!" and if they hit the road again in the future, I shall go to the show. Yay-hooo!

Comments

Iv├ín said…
You're right ! They performed last night at Santiago, Chile and was an awesome show. Sting singing at his best, Andy having a great time and an always smiling Stewart.
This is not a virtuoso show, i saw three guys having a great time , enjoying the job they got.

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