The Police | 07.29 | Philadelphia

Words by: Bobby "TP" Coleman | Images by: Rod Snyder

The Police :: 07.29.08 :: Wachovia Center:: Philadelphia, PA

The Police :: 07.29 :: Philly
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.

Stewart Copeland - The Police :: 07.29 :: Philly
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.

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.

Continue reading for more pics...

Elvis Costello & The Imposters

The Police

JamBase | Philly
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RobHornfeck starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 01:07PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Saw 'em last October...I'm sure there's going to be gripes that they were in it for the money, but I had a BLAST (plus my ticket was free!). All I needed was a bi-level and some OP shorts and I would have been in 7th grade again! If you want to read a cool book, check out Andy Summer's "One Train Later".

Muffinman1 Fri 8/8/2008 01:46PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


They were the worst show Bonnaroo has ever had. total snooze fest. But I did get quite a laugh when andy summers ripped off Stings shirt. Those fellas are so snuggly.

shonuff Fri 8/8/2008 03:25PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

does anyone remember the article with stewart copeland where he knocked "A Love Supreme." What the hell was that about?

iwantstogetfunkedup Fri 8/8/2008 03:28PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I do have to say there in it for the money as I much as I love Police tunes. When I lived on Maui, I had a lot of friends fly over to Oahu for what was billed as the last show on their reunion tour. That was in Februray. Soon after Rolling Stone reported it was one of the biggest selling tours. The fact that they're still playing these reunion shows and the members have been clear that they still don't get along tells you one thing.

sunnbear star Fri 8/8/2008 03:45PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Elvis is cool.

jimmyjetski starstarstarstar Fri 8/8/2008 06:24PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Not a Police fan at all, but took the wife to Buffalo show. They were quite good, and the world beat infusion into their old songs was interesting. I have to say the Police were better than the last 3 Phil and Friends yawners I've endured.

Chaloupka Fri 8/8/2008 08:04PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I don't know why he would dis classic jazz, but Copeland sure beats the shit out of the skins.

FATTY64 Sat 8/9/2008 07:54AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

So when is Copeland gonna start talking to Les and Tray about an Oyesterhead tour??

boogievan Sat 8/9/2008 11:55AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hopefully soon, Oysterhead was Awesome and needs to make a triumphant return. As for Stew dissing each his own, mabye its just not his bag, man.

oboyler Sat 8/9/2008 08:14PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


he's gonna have to wait until trey's done with the phish reunion tour.

Pinkus737 starstarstarstar Tue 8/12/2008 07:42AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I got to see this show (Philly) as a make-up from them cancelling it last fall, plus I went with some freinds to see the New Jersey show last weekend; The Philly show was definetly better since it was in your face and the huge screens that they had totally lit the place up! We were moved from our nosebleed ticket seats to one of the sections on the floor, which was awesome (don't ask me how that worked!), and I thought the show was rocking- Elvis is a god as usual of course. The New Jersey show (PNC Center) was more like Policestock or something- tons of people in one of those huge outdoor venues and I pretty much got drunk and jammed despite having seen the same show a few nights before! Maybe they were only in it for the money, but I am glad I went to see this when I had the chance.

breadloaf Wed 8/13/2008 12:56PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

shonuff, yes I remember very well- I've yet to forgive Kaycemen (as if he really gives a crap what I think)for not challenging Copeland's lame little media games- even if his amazingly stupid comment was tongue in cheek.

And sunnbear, yeah, Elvis is super cool, although I personally think he went for a milk run here teaming up with lessor talents but a bigger draw. Money talks, I suppose. Familiar with his wife? The lovely and talented Diana Krall.

seneskia Mon 8/18/2008 06:46PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

What is Sting wearing, it looks like he should be in the old Sproket skit with Mike Myers from SNL