Words by: Bobby "TP" Coleman | Images by: Rod Snyder
The Police :: 07.29.08 :: Wachovia Center:: Philadelphia, PA
The great and small events of our lives are arranged in a way synchronized as to give them meaning. What we can achieve is defined by our limitations, and like the history of The Police, the tension that creates also destroys. So, after more than twenty years apart, the band - one of the most popular in the history of modern music - embarked on a reunion tour in Vancouver, Canada in May of 2007 that has circumscribed the planet, visiting Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America, and culminating in a final concert at New York's Madison Square Garden on August 7, 2008.
Opening this show at the Wachovia Center was Elvis Costello and the Imposters, touring in support of their new album, Momofuku (see JamBase's review here). The song "Stella Hurt" is amazing, and the performance created an effect that was like being in a spaceship blasting off. Keyboardist Steve Nieve did an impressive job playing amazingly complex arrangements throughout their short set. I love Costello for his great skill as a lyricist and composer and was not disappointed at all by this brief opening performance. "Either Side of The Same Town" was a fitting choice for this show: "Nothing will ever be the same/ Everything is changing, deep inside." I was greatly pleased by the new material live, and besides opening with the title track they also did "Turpentine" and "Flutter and Wow" from the new album. After the crowd was warmed up, Sting walked out and sang with Costello on "Alison," then bowed and left as The Imposters closed their set with Nick Lowe's anthem "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."
During intermission, the enormous video screen above the stage showed images by photographer and philanthropist Bobby Sager. According to The Police's website, "The images of children from countries around the world (Afghanistan, Rwanda, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet) were of refugees, orphans, children soldiers and kids living in difficult situations." The contrast between their world and the one we were in was striking. The fans getting beers and the abundance of food around us made me study them all the more, their faces becoming one image, one person, age and race undefined, unimportant. The light in their eyes became that of trust and hope - a view of the world we live in and rarely ever see so closely.
Then, the stage became black and mysterious. Bob Marley's "Get Up Stand Up" echoed over the course of a long breath, then slowly from underneath the stage a trap door lifted Stewart Copeland up to an ascending platform and a gong at least six-feet in diameter, surrounded by other percussion instruments, shimmered in a solo spotlight as his mallets softly banged and Sting and Andy Summers, already at their marks, started to play. "Message In A Bottle" "sent out an "S.O.S." that brought the crowd to their feet. Sting, Summers and Copeland were larger than life on the video screen, where they appeared noticeably older than at a distance, Sting's gray beard prominent as were Copeland's glasses.
|Stewart Copeland - The Police :: 07.29 :: Philly|
Following "Message In A Bottle," they played "Walking On The Moon" in a considerably different arrangement that was much slower and more mellow, yet still kicking and lively as a reggae number. Sting's powerful voice rang clear and clean over Stewart's bell-like cymbals and Summers' jazzy legato, and the crowd joined in the chorus as 15,000 hands linked together and then began clapping with Sting for "Demolition Man" over a very funky sounding, heavy bassline. Sting and Summers hammered on their guitars at the beginning of "Voices Inside My Head," changing tempo faster and faster in a colorful, textured, delightful performance. It was clear all three musicians had grown immensely through their collaboration with other artists.
After they played "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da," they slid into "Invisible Sun" and the video screen divided into three parts as the faces of children and the band intertwined and synchronized.
There has to be an invisible sun
It gives its heat to everyone
There has to be an invisible sun
That gives us hope when the whole day's done
Sting smiled and nodded towards Summers, and with Copeland's amazing percussion behind him, a great look of relief and relation overtook them in the moment of pure music.
The Philly fans were greatly accepting of these new forms of the old favorites, and the two encores included "Roxanne," "King of Pain," "So Lonely" and ended with "Next To You." The Police reunion was history performed extremely well.
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