About seven years ago, my future wife and I were killing time while waiting for a train at Grand Central. We stumbled upon a feature on The Police in Mojo, which introduced the band’s demise by using their last concert at Giants Stadium on June 15, 1986. It was at that show, the band’s first in two years that The Police transferred the moniker of "Biggest Band In The World" over to U2. Sting told Bono and company that they would have to carry the mantle thereafter. However, the article also made two things abundantly clear; the band never really strove to hold that title to begin with and their disintegration stemmed from all the baggage that accompanied it. After reading the piece, especially with the animosity that Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland still felt towards Sting (they were more than a little cynical towards his boasts of epic orgasms through adherence to the *Kama Sutra*), we were sure that The Police would never reunite.
But the band improbably made peace with themselves and each other over the years. Summers and Copeland claim publicly that they’ve struck that delicate balance between the acceptance of Sting as the undisputed creative force and providing him the freedom to express it, warts and all. That fragile equilibrium was in full display on Sunday on the very same stage where they officially said goodbye back in ’86. The results were electrifying enough to remind everyone in attendance why they were so big in the first place. The setlist was identical to all the subsequent shows since they dropped "Spirits In The Material World" in June. However, they sounded anything but stale. In fact, they sounded pretty much like The Police. They weren’t quite the white hot punk version that toured the clubs in 1979, but they weren’t the over inflated group that toured the world with
backup singers on the Synchronicity tour, either.
The opening pairing of "Message In A Bottle"and "Synchronicity II," ostensibly bookends for their string of hits, signaled that they weren’t there just to play it safe. Stewart Copeland played like a beast all night and Andy Sumners provided those spirals of solos in all the right places, although "The Bed’s Too Big Without You" could’ve gotten even weirder. Sting sounded great and his voice, an instrument in itself, made all the radio hits sound vital again. "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" was brought down an octave, but the resulting sing along really filled the stadium. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" brought the same result. Occasionally, Sting’s vocal phrasing sounded more like his solo shows then the Police’s early days. That may have been his only sign of aging. But with the powerhouse sequence of "Can’t Stand Losing You," "Roxanne," "King Of Pain," "So Lonely," "Every Breath You Take" and "Next To You" it didn’t really matter.
Sure, I would have liked a few more obscurities from the first two albums or a couple of B-sides. But this is The Police on stage that we’re talking about. In the end, that’s all that counts.