The Police | 07.05.07 | Chicago, IL

Words by: Mark Miller :: Images by Rod Snyder

The Police :: 07.05.07 :: Wrigley Field :: Chicago, IL

Sting - The Police :: 07.19
The return of The Police - arguably the best rock band of the 1980's - to Chicago marked the most exciting moment at Wrigley Field since Game 6 of the 2003 National League pennant series, the infamous "Steve Bartman" game the Cubs ultimately lost. Certainly the outcome on this evening with The Police was more pleasant for the thousands of Cubs fans in attendance.

A gorgeous summer night welcomed Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland back to the Windy City, a town where they are as popular as any in the world, for the first time in over 20 years. Opening band Fiction Plane had the unenviable task of playing for a barely full, barely interested Wrigley Field. FP did offer one novelty - bassist-vocalist Joe Sumner is Sting's son. Sumner sounds like a Sting-Bono combo, and his genetics made FP a uniquely appropriate warm-up for The Police. Musically, FP combine rock, blues and some prog elements, and though some of their material sounded repetitive they do have potential. Perhaps FP should take more chances instead of settling on being an adequate opening act.

Stewart Copeland - The Police :: 07.19
The Police are certainly a band that had taken chances during their career, and reuniting may be the biggest risk of all. The band has always been regarded as one of those "perfect bands" in rock annals that broke up while they were still on top, never releasing a sub par album or coming back for lame tours without all the original members. There's been much written in the press and blogs about the complaints of Stewart Copeland, who declared the opening night of the tour in Vancouver to be "unbelievably lame" and criticized both Sting and Summers for less than stellar performances.

Perhaps it's fitting that Copeland commenced the proceedings by banging a large Chinese gong. While Sting is the most famous member of The Police, Copeland is probably the most popular. He certainly won over the crowd later in the show when he donned a Cubs jersey that read: COPELAND 07 (for the 2007 reunion tour). On the other hand, Andy Summers casts a disinterested demeanor onstage, a New Wave aloofness that contrasts sharply with Sting and Copeland's genial personas.

Andy Summers - The Police :: 07.19
When the band opened with "Message in a Bottle," Sting singing, "Just a castaway, an island lost at sea-oh," the crowd erupted, and for a couple hours it was the Eighties again. It was immediately apparent this show was to be pure Police - no hired guns or unnamed musicians lurking in the shadows, so typical of many rock reunions in recent years. There weren't even backup singers, which were utilized on the Synchronicity tour. At times, those backup singers were missed but it was refreshing to have just the triumvirate playing.

"Synchronicity II" was marred by weak opening guitar chords that failed to evoke the amazing studio track, though this is typical of the under-whelming Wrigley Field acoustics. Blame the woeful sound rather than any decline on Summers' part. More memorable were the triple split screens that displayed each member playing individually.

Sting - The Police :: 07.19
"Voices in my Head" caught some off guard, but quickly segued into the more recognizable "When the World is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around." Make that somewhat recognizable. Sting had a penchant for rearranging the vocal melodies of some Police classics that was occasionally off-putting. In fairness, perhaps Mr. Sumner was trying to reinvent the songs so the concert experience transcended the feeling of sitting around listening to a CD. However, some reinterpretations, such as "Don't Stand So Close To Me" came off as tepid and uninspired.

In utter contrast, "Driven To Tears" was a highlight, exhibiting just how underrated a bassist Sting truly is. "Tears" was received as a head-scratcher by some but did sound much fuller than most of the more familiar material. "The Bed's Too Big Without You" was a showcase for Copeland on the intricate rolls and fills.

Sting - The Police :: 07.19
Ironically, Sting drew the loudest booing of the evening when he announced that the last Police concert in Chicago was at old Comiskey Park, home of the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox. As it turns out, Sting's claim was untrue. The Police's last show in Chicago was part of the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope tour in 1986.

The high-energy of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" juxtaposed with the low-key "Wrapped Around Your Finger," another number that allowed Copeland to demonstrate his versatility on the bells and chimes. "Invisible Sun" was a mixed bag. While a welcome selection, this version had little of the album's emotional power. The orange lighting was vivid and apt but the screen imagery of forlorn children meant little to the summertime party crowd. However, the video effects for "Walking In Your Footsteps" were spectacular, animated dinosaur fossils interacting with Sting served as the most visually arresting moment of the show. "Footstep's" clever lyric of "Hey mighty brontosaurus, do you have a lesson for us?" was as fitting for 2007's so-called War On Terror as it was during the Reagan Cold War era.

Sting & Summers - The Police :: 07.19
A seemingly spontaneous "Bonanza" jam segued into "Can't Stand Losing You," complete with a space jam, extended Summers soloing and a Sting-led sing-along, reviving the crowd after the mellow suite of songs.

"Roxanne," their signature song and the one played for their inaugural reunion during the Grammy Awards, featured vibrant red lighting and Sting effectively hitting the song's now legendary high notes. This Roxanne did divert from the Outlandos d'Amour version, with a dark jamming interlude and more audience accompaniment. Of course, at this point, the crowd would have joined in harmony with Sting if he sang a tax return.

Encore launched with "King of Pain," and witnessing it live demonstrated the disparity between the sorrowful lyrics and the music's upbeat tempo, with the crowd dancing in delight as Sting proclaimed, "I'll always be King of Pain." "So Lonely" continued their exploration of the early canon with more extended Summers' leads and Sting rephrasing the "Welcome to this one-man show" as "Welcome to the Andy Summers/Stewart Copeland show" to pay tribute to his silent partners. That mega-hit of lite rock FM stations, "Every Breath You Take," closed out the first encore. More irony here: couples in the crowd getting romantic during a song that's essentially about a creepy stalker obsessed with an old flame.

Sting & Summers - The Police :: 07.19
For the second and final encore, the high energy "Next To You" ended the show with a sensory overload of lights and screen footage of the band from their late '70s roots. Take from this review one piece of advice: it might be acceptable to show up late for The Police but don't leave early and miss the ending.

As far as overall song selection, the Ghost In The Machine album was overlooked. Songs like "One World (Not Three)," "Secret Journey" and "Spirits In The Material World" are too powerful to be excluded from a legitimate setlist. With no new songs to offer, The Police reunion tour is, at best, largely an exercise in nostalgia. At its worst this is a "cash in at baseball stadiums" tour that has grossed over $100 million in the U.S. alone, giving the impression that this was about little else than money. Yet that would be too cynical a viewpoint. Ultimately, The Police's astonishing catalog is more than worthy of being celebrated, performed live and, yes, even occasionally jammed out and rearranged. However, if The Police do continue into the future, they would be better served to play more intimate venues to ensure the integrity of the music. Leave the baseball stadiums to the Cubs and the Stones.

JamBase | Chicago
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[Published on: 7/23/07]

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kaiserbun starstarstar Mon 7/23/2007 05:34PM
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i saw them at bonnaroo and they were very good if your a police fan. they played a lot of big songs and everything was played well. there was absolutely nothing special about it though. lots of people were saying it was amazing, i just don't get that. turn the radio on and most of the songs sound the same note for note. the roxanne arrangement was pretty cool though.

brianeh Mon 7/23/2007 05:45PM
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man Fuck Da Police

Andrew Bruss Mon 7/23/2007 06:03PM
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Andrew Bruss

comin stragint from tha underground

theRabble Mon 7/23/2007 07:19PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
karacter0 star Mon 7/23/2007 08:08PM
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I thought Sting sucked at Bonnaroo. I really respected him as a singer until he headlined 'roo, stunk it up, and couldn't produce a full length show.

karacter0 Mon 7/23/2007 08:11PM
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Stuart Copeland should be knighted for his honest statements about his over the hill band.

waa8 Mon 7/23/2007 09:04PM
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well, at least copelands still cool in my books.

SPF9 Mon 7/23/2007 09:19PM
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umph and the black crowes played for free that night in chi -town fuck da police

TXfarmhouse starstar Tue 7/24/2007 07:41AM
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this article should have been 1 paragraph. In which you could have said and overpriced event with a great drummer!

kirkbrew starstarstarstar Tue 7/24/2007 08:00AM
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“arguably the best rock band of the 1980's”. Maybe the most successful. As for best, Talking Heads hands down with REM, The Pixies and The Feelies close behind. The Police just prettied up The Clash and cashed it in.

“astonishing catalog’? They only made 5 albums!!! That’s not “astonishing” at all. Now, the 25m+ records that they sold in the US alone is pretty astonishing.

Glad I gave this show a miss. I got a lot better things to do with $100 than to watch a nostalgia act. I am curious if they had a backing track for Stings like at the Grammies.

funkyriddims starstarstar Tue 7/24/2007 09:32AM
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First of all I would never pay $100 to see any band, festival yes, but a single band NO WAY. However, my brother-in-law GAVE me a ticket to this show and we went, allowing me to enjoy the show/party without the guilt of money spent. That being said, this show was a lot of fun. The sound at this show varied a lot from one end of Wrigley to the other but I had no problem moving around,the sound in the upper deck/walkway was very good and security didnt hassle me at all while dancing around. I went to this show expecting to be dissapointed by the performance, but wasn't at all. I thought it was a good show(and yes I am old enough to remember when they popular)

MoreTunes starstarstarstar Tue 7/24/2007 09:34AM
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It's always funny when some asshole sox fan manages to take an article about a band, and spin it into an opportunity to talk shit about the cubs. Great job Sox fans, you managed to look like a complete asshole as usual.

goodB3rger13 starstarstar Tue 7/24/2007 10:38AM
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Saw the police at the roo...I felt the same way that kaiserbun was cool to see them, but it was nothing special. I kept waiting for more...but it never came.

as for least make a comment on the article...don't just bash the cubs...just b/c the dirty sox play at some shithole that will probably change names every two or three years doesn't mean you have to hate on wrigley...have fun watching the LAST PLACE sox for the rest of the year...perhaps you guys can jump back in front of the royals

kewl Tue 7/24/2007 11:22AM
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Fuck Police Copeland bring back Oysterhead

Falcor Tue 7/24/2007 02:21PM
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Kirkbrew-- You are one of the only people who have commented on here that has made me truly smile and wish to praise you for your comments. if I had a cocktail in my hand I would be raising it in your direction. cheers mate.

cuttyfives Tue 7/24/2007 03:59PM
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Go Cubs Go! F%&# the White Trash Sox!

jr2037 Wed 7/25/2007 07:49AM
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I dig the police but they were lame at 'Roo, they play with absolutely 0% passion...wasn't even tight.

ganorton3 Wed 7/25/2007 09:10AM
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Noone tops copeland. Would love to see oysterhead back together again, though we may have to wait.... oh 5-10 years.

karacter0 Wed 7/25/2007 10:18AM
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bring back oysterhead? ...they could do a 35 day run of shows at the place where Trey is on house arrest.

karacter0 Wed 7/25/2007 10:23AM
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you couldn't break out Murder by Numbers at bonnaroo? it's the only really cool song you have.

knibbs Wed 7/25/2007 12:26PM
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good review, I was playing up in Wrigleyville that night and heard the second half of the show from the street and it sounded pretty good.

Just a little fact to the people bashing the White Sox and the Cell, Wrigley Field was the first Corp. named stadium, now there's "the Bud Light Bleechers", not to mention the drunked fratboys who go to the game just to get wasted-come on. Cubs fans are still waiting for next year, and the "trash" remarks regarding the White Sox are obviously from suburban out-of-towners and stuck up North siders. I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubbies don't even make the playoffs.

cuttyfives Wed 7/25/2007 02:12PM
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<----"stuck up north sider"/loyal purple line rider...stay in Cicero if you love the Cum socks so much...wrigleyville sucks my balls, ill give you that...thats not where i go to find girls to smash b/c of the lame college like atmosphere it has plus last call is are the one "playing" there...I love the jokes who hate on N. Chicago...dont try it or you will get ripped to shreds and rightfully so. Go Cubs

RothburyWithCheese star Wed 7/25/2007 02:26PM
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Love copeland. love oysterhead. shit i even loved his theme song for Dead Like Me. but the police? awful. do you guys remember when sting opened for the dead in vegas and when stin(k) played his set?!?!? everyone was in the lot getting ready for the real show to begin? even the railrats waited til sting was thru.

Ned8 starstarstarstar Wed 7/25/2007 05:16PM
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I just got to say this; Sting is one of the best song writers of our generation. No jam band could even come up to that level. Its not a question of apples and oranges. I read all these statements in which jam kids are dissing on Sting and praising Stew. No doubt I dig the Police and I perhaps, won't go because I don't want to be disappointed but sorry folks, as a musician, I have been in the jam scene and seen how Phish head, Dead heads care more about the jam then the song. I say it takes both and that's why no jam band has ever touched the Dead. OK, I'm showing my age now but in the mid-90's Sting opened for the Dead and it was during Stings soul cages tour. If you had been able to see Jerry in the background first, in awe of Sting and then being notions on to sit in and the mesh, then you would really get that great songs, poetic verse and great fusion that nods to all the good things in traditional and progressive music start to become like great art as if to move like Hemingway painted by Dali
I appreciated the review and would be all about going if they did play more songs from Ghost in he Machine and to know they did not play Murder by Numbers is frustrating.
God Kellerhead, you are exactly what I'm speaking of. You know what, Jerry could not have been happier as did the rest of the band. But I think their personal tastes vary dramatically from Jamband fans.For instance, I don't think you probably like shanty songs like Jerry did; so opinion on keller head

shonuff Wed 7/25/2007 08:03PM
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RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/26/2007 06:51AM
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World Series: Dodgers over Yankees in 6!!!

iamkickinit Thu 7/26/2007 08:57AM
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White Sox suck! Go Tigers!!!

And I think this tour could go down as the WORST reunion tour... EVER!

knibbs Thu 7/26/2007 01:04PM
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cuttyfives the purple line remark is exactly what i'm talking about keep your white sox hate in evanston. Im a proud resident of the South Side (Morgan Park!). I definately don't hate the north side, just all the stuck up yuppies and bitter cubs fans who are still waiting...BTW I'll play up there every night of the week, dude. Tear me to shreds if need be, but if you don't have a 773 or 312 in your phone# YOU'RE NOT A CHICAGOIAN! 606 LOVE! GO BREWERS!

cuttyfives starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/26/2007 01:44PM
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Knibbs, morgan park is further away from the 312 then evanston...i guess you win this argument. I dont hate the south side, i just would never go or live there. I have lots of friends who are unfortunately white sox fans...maybe you guys can get together and race your camaros and hit up the armani outlet out just playin anyways...hopefully you guys dont trade Paulie...Best, Cutty

knibbs Thu 7/26/2007 02:07PM
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true, but it's still the city. I hope they keep Paulie. Sox fans, like myself, are just in shock cuz they are flat out sucking it up this year. Actually, the Bev/Morgan Prk area is a great place to live, and looks a lot like Evanston, honestly, and would probably have been a suburb if it wasn't filled w/Chi Firefighters and Cops. It's all good, I was bored and love stirring the pot! holla

barnylee Fri 7/27/2007 11:19AM
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Best band of the 80's? How bout U2? The Police didn't even make it past 85...I think Tom Petty faired well too...and the Talking Heads...kudos to REM also...

shonuff Fri 7/27/2007 03:46PM
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but seriously folks.....the cubs suck LONG LIVE THE SOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SOX RULE!

shonuff Fri 7/27/2007 03:48PM
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also, where did the dead play their last show? Oh yea, On the south side.

RothburyWithCheese star Fri 7/27/2007 08:23PM
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I love the way this conversation has drifted away from this awful band to more important things like baseball and the soldier field tour finale. Go Dodgers!!!

ghilliesblunt starstarstar Sun 7/29/2007 05:12PM
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shonuff: yeah if u wanna get technical then the dead did play their last show on the south side, but honestly i dont consider nor do i know anyone else that considers soldier field on the "south side"...its the loop or downtown

anyways fuck all this sports talk in here...

Ned8 starstarstarstar Mon 7/30/2007 07:20AM
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Ghilliesblunt... You want the accolade of the Dead playing their last show in Chicago; you can have it. It is the saddest thing I know of; Go check out Utube and see the track of so many roads; made me cry when I saw it. I was not at the show but Jerry is so sick and it is a sign of the tragedy to come.
LesterBangs'ghost; you confirm my expectations of some Jamband kids; Drugs warp the sensibilies of some and enhance others

RothburyWithCheese star Tue 7/31/2007 12:49PM
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Thanks, I think. Dont call me a jamband kid. I'm 28, I've been listening to music (all kinds) for 20 years so dont lump me in with the 18 years olds on this site who couldnt name you anyone from the Dead aside from Jerry, dont know who Pigpen was, and have never heard a Coltrane tune. I own 3,000 albums (lps and cds) and have listened to more good music than probably anyone else that visits this site.

DaveT star Tue 7/31/2007 03:13PM
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LBG- "I own 3,000 albums (lps and cds) and have listened to more good music than probably anyone else that visits this site." Wow, you're dreamy!

RothburyWithCheese star Wed 8/1/2007 06:57AM
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Actually 3,005, to be exact. And yes I am dreamy....

Ned8 Thu 8/2/2007 01:09PM
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You actually think the Police are an aweful band
It is shocking to know but just because you have 3000 albums it is not like some sort of proof that you know music, at least not in my eyes. Your telling me that the police just have no redeeming qualities and Sting writes bad songs then? WOW!!! or is it that you really want folks to view you as the supreme sub-culturalist? Come on man, There are opinions and then there is posturing and I think you are placating because the band was so popular.
Sometimes and not always, a band should stand the test of time because the material is that good and for me, that goes for the Police. Wondering, of those 3000 albums, how many Def Leopard and White Snake do you have with your father's Coltrain / Jazz albums?
This is all in fun though, so don't take it too crass

tekla Tue 8/7/2007 10:45AM
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3000, if you started at 16, that's five records a week, every week, every year for 12 years, well at least the RIAA loves you.

I saw the Oakland show, and it was one of the first ones, so I hope they got better as they went on, it sounded ragged to me.

But, I'm confused, Police as a jam band? How is that? Almost every song they did clocked in at 2:58 (perfect for top 40 AM radio).

Ned8 Wed 8/8/2007 09:14AM
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Yea Tekla, I was wondering that also. Definetly not a jam band and never made the pretense that they were. Great songs though, in my mind some of the best. Sting and The Dream of the Blue Turtles could jam though. Sinse some here have an issue with Sting mostly, have they seen "Bring on the Nights." Omar Hakim, Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, Darrel Jones.... Need I say more?