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The Police: In Violation of Sucking

Wrigley Field - Chicago, IL, United States - July 6, 2007

by Anthony Kuzminski

The PoliceOne of the most anticipated reunion tours that many thought would never happen (including me) is currently in full swing; the Police. It's been twenty-one years since they performed live and twenty-three years since they did a full scale tour. Even though the secondary ticket market was full of last minute deals far below face value, it did not derail the excitement for these reunion shows. On their Chicago stop alone, they sold 80,000 tickets at astounding prices over two-nights at the home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field. When the band hit the stage rolling into "Message in the Bottle", they appeared completely poised, professional and had an elated crowd ready to be rocked. One problem; the rock was seriously missing. Before you begin to send me hate emails, let me explain myself. It was a gorgeous summer night in Chicago and Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland all performed like the proficient and skillful musicians they are, but the chemistry between the three left a wide open void they never filled. Each member has improved their craft as musicians with age, but finding a way to merge three unique personalities into a once great band failed. The ticket may say "The Police" but this was anything but three solo artists who were all mentally on different planets. Once again, great musicians do not always make great bands.

The entire evening was a scattered affair with a poorly sequenced set list (not enough fast-paced numbers) and virtually no emotion was exhibited by the band. As a result the emotional reactions from the crowd were non-existent, whom appeared jaded to the majority of the show except for the radio friendly hits. Ironically the band, most notably Sting, did little to warrant our applause or reactions. Many of the song arrangements performed throughout the evening were eerily similar to solo Sting renditions such as "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and "Truth Hits Everybody" which were lacking in tempo and focus and appeared to be rushed almost as if the band was reluctantly performing them. Sadly the Police catalog has been Stingified for too long and this was a missed opportunity for the band to reclaim these songs and make them their own once again. Alas, they only showed up to collect a paycheck.

The Police - Stewart CopelandThe evening was not a complete loss as there were highlights which included "Synchronicity II", "Driven To Tears" and "Bed's Too Big Without You". Each performance was stellar and showed the potential of what this band was capable of when they put their minds to it. The other main focal point was the drumming of the magnificent Stewart Copeland, the most charismatic person on stage and the MVP of the evening. His subtle drumming on "Driven To Tears", "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "King of Pain" was purely sublime as he showed us how these songs should be performed live. As multi-talented as the members of Sting's bands have been over the years, none of them play with the zeal inside Copeland. Watching him on stage was the preeminent part of the evening as his focused and rhythmatic hands proved to be spellbinding, even when the arrangement of the song fell flat as it did on "Invisible Sun". Herein lays the main crux of my issue with the show; should the drummer ever be the most charismatic person on stage? (Don Henley and Phil Collins do not count).

Andy Summers was poised and proficient the entire show and it was a pleasure to watch him suavely move his hands across his six strings screening off his virtuosic talent for the 40,000 in attendance. Sting's bass playing was far more focused than it has been in recent years because with three members on stage you can't hide anything. His musical endowment shined on "When The World Is Running Down", "Can't Stand Losing You" and on one of the few highlights of the night "So Lonely". I think this is what made the evening so polarizing is that there shimmers of potential greatness but the band never gelled taking it to that next level. While each member is a better musician than they were twenty-one years ago, they no longer have a desire to tap into their shared past allowing them to leave the crowd in a breathtaking emotional abandon. They weren't as bad as the title of this review suggests, but they weren't good either and are not worthy of their extreme ticket prices ($110-$275).

The Police - Andy SummersThe band appeared to be in sync with one another during the impressive encores, unfortunately, for me it was a too little too late. When the show ended at 10:10, I was appalled to the see the band didn't even play two-hours, all the more astonishing considering that Sting never broke a sweat. In the end, while it was a gorgeous night and seeing these songs performed by the Police and not hired guns was refreshing, the show overall was a largely dissatisfying experience. Many people I have spoken to claimed to love the show but when I asked them if they would pay to see it again, 100% of them told me "no" and none of these individuals witnessed the Police during their heyday and have only experienced these songs live through Sting concerts. Don't expect this reunion to last, this is merely a quick money grab that is leaving the fans in the dust and is shaping up to be the most disappointing reunion tour ever. This is a shame because they had the potential to take the crowd to another level with these eclectic songs and immense talents proving to us that they best days were in front of them rather than behind. All this tour is proving to be is a reminder of what a great band this once was and how sad it is to see them be a mere shadows of their former selves. If you have seen the Police during their commercial peak two-decades back and are holding tickets to an upcoming show, I highly suggest selling them and not ruining the memories you have of this once great band.

Set List:

  • Message in a Bottle
  • Synchronicity II
  • Walking On The Moon
  • Voices Inside My Head
  • When The World Is Running Down
  • Don't Stand So Close To Me
  • Driven To Tears
  • Truth Hits Everybody
  • Bed's Too Big Without You
  • Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  • Wrapped Around Your Finger
  • De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
  • Invisible Sun
  • Walking In Your Footsteps
  • Can't Stand Losing You
  • Roxanne
  • King Of Pain
  • So Lonely
  • Every Breath You Take
  • Next To You

Anthony Kuzminski can be found at The Screen Door


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