LIVE: The Police
July 22, 2007
Air Canada Centre
A bass-playing Sumner and his two bandmates did a woeful job of bashing their way through a set of Coldplay-inspired rock ‘n’ lite reggae last night. It’s a good thing then, that it was Joe Sumner and his tepid foray into the family business known as Fiction Plane and not the main gig as anchored by Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner — better known to the world as Sting.
That Sting’s son’s band opened for The Police’s first tour appearance in Toronto since 1983 cast a nepotistic pall over the early evening — particularly considering Joe plays bass and yelp-sings almost exactly like his dad, minus the charisma. About their only high point was single “Two Sisters,” but even that was an act of imitation.
The short intermission video that took place during the changeover didn’t bode well either. Sure, everyone loves Bob Marley and footage of him doing sit-ups is fun, but the extended coverage of models walking catwalks was an inexplicable inclusion that seemed straight out of Fashion File‘s b-roll archives.
There was great relief then when Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland took to the stage to right early wrongs. They started off with the beloved “Message In A Bottle” and, with the house lights on high in the ACC, the sold-out show was instantly converted into a dancing, singing mass.
“Synchronicity II” made for an enjoyable first dip into deep-cut territory and “Walking On The Moon” triggered a football stadium-spirited singalong on top of showcasing Sting’s still-got-it pipes. Indeed, the singer effortlessly made everyone in the building feel common and inferior. The 55-year-old is still completely ripped — no doubt explaining the enthusiasm of the substantial hot suburban mom demo in the audience — and his voice has maintained itself with remarkable agelessness.
The medley of “Voices Inside My Head” and “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around” followed by “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “Driven To Tears” represented the low point of the show. It was a section of self-content adult-contempo that threatened to unravel the show’s early goodwill until all was corrected with the punkish “Truth Hits Everybody.”
That dynamic jolt was just what the audience and The Police needed to push the show from rote nostalgia into something more genuine. The next level fully hit when an elaborate percussion set, complete with giant gong, suddenly materialized for the start of “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” A wild-eyed Copeland managed to ratchet up his monomaniacal playing to even greater heights when he’d foray over to his more exotic kit.
A last quarter blast of hits “Invisible Sun,” “Walking In Your Footsteps,” “Can’t Stand Losing You” and a sprawled out jam of “Roxanne” sealed the deal. There was little of the much rumoured, much worried about jazz noodling, and lots of hits, which was just what the people wanted.
“King Of Pain,” “So Lonely” and “Every Breath You Take” represented the first encore. The playing of those tracks seemed a bit cursory, particularly on their big stalker hit and “Next To You,” which was something of an anti-climactic second encore closer. That said, The Police’s string of hits and technical competency retained an overall vibrancy rarely seen in the nostalgia/reunion/classic rock circuit. The result was a real and vital Police show still worthy of matching their legacy.
Here is the set list:
“Message In A Bottle”
“Walking On The Moon”
“Voices Inside My Head”
“When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around”
“Don’t Stand So Close To Me”
“Driven To Tears”
“Truth Hits Everybody”
“The 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”
“Walking In Your Footsteps”
“Can’t Stand Losing You”
“King Of Pain”
“Every Breath You Take ”
“Next To You”
This review was originally published July 23, 2007 via Chart Communications.