The Police Pick Up Where They Left Off

Syncronicity II came next, keeping the energy extremely high. I was a bit scared when Summers started the song with a bluesy riff, but the new intro actually worked out really well. Throughout the song I was looking around in a daze, still in shock that I was at The Garden seeing The Police. While I’ve mostly stayed away from recordings from this tour, I have been following the setlists. The only real question regarding the set was whether they would play Walking On The Moon or Spirits In The Material World third. We got Walking On The Moon, and I wasn’t disappointed. Walking On The Moon had a tasty solo tacked onto the end, a trend that would continue throughout the show.

Considering most of the crowd attending the show was in their mid-50s, I was pretty excited to see everyone stay on their feet for the majority of the set. When The World Is Running Down featured some nasty soloing from Summers that finally put many of the squares into their seats. There wasn’t much downtime — they followed up the jam with Don’t Stand So Close To Me, a real crowd pleaser. Early in the tour The Police struggled mightily with Don’t Stand So Close To Me, so it was really nice to see them nail it. Sting was in fine voice throughout the show, but I particularly liked his work on that tune.

My favorite segment of the show got the weakest reaction from the crowd. Truth Hits Everybody and Bed’s Too Big Without You were absolutely sublime. Stewart Copeland led each of the jams to interesting places before Sting would sing the final verse of the tunes. There has been so much made of the different arrangements The Police used on a number of these tunes, but I really liked what they did with both of these two. These guys are over 50 and, really, they shouldn’t be playing Truth Hits Everybody as a straight punk tune like they did in 1979. Sting did a terrific job of toning down the song without castrating the edge that makes it work.

While most of the show was terrific, I do have a few complaints. I would have loved to see Summers and Copeland provide some harmonies instead of depending on backing vocal tracks that were pre-recorded. I was also surprised by the lack of banter between the members of the band. In the early days the band gained so much energy by joking with each other and the audience. Sting was pretty much the only one who talked last night.

It was exciting to see that the band didn’t cheap out on the production of the show. Above the stage were three high-def monitors that generally showed close-ups of the three band members. At points I found myself watching the monitors so much that I needed to step back and remember that the actual band members were only 100 feet away. The light show was delightfully understated, until the light guy went nuts during Can’t Stand Losing You.

Speaking of Can’t Stand Losing You, the band absolutely crushed that tune. Sting, Stewart and Andy played a nice little segment as an intro before Sting kicked in the familiar bass line that starts the song proper. The crowd was primed and ready to sing when they hit the Regatta De Blanc segment of the song. Everyone in the world’s most famous arena was chanting “Rio Riay Riayo” as if it actually meant something. The song ended with a triumphant solo from Mr. Andy Summers, as per usual on this night.

The red lights came on as Roxanne ended the 100-minute set around 10:40 pm. I was worried the band would play Sting’s shitty jazz arrangement of the tune, but they kept it pretty groovin’ throughout. Everyone in the crowd was on their feet and applauding loudly as the band left the stage. For the first time since I saw Phish return on 12/31/02, I felt the Garden shake when the band returned to the stage.

King Of Pain — one of my favorite tunes of all-time — started the first encore. I love Sting’s lyrics, syncopated bass line and brilliant melodies that run rampant throughout the segments of the song. King Of Pain is tough to pull off live, but the band did a nice job. Our friend Coach pointed out that Copeland was using a recorded beat, but I’ll let that slide. Again, I couldn’t really believe that I was standing in MS-motherfucking-G seeing The Police play King Of Pain.

Immediately after finishing King Of Pain, The Police launched into So Lonely, which our friend BGentz reminded me has the most depressing lyrics ever. But this was the band’s crowning achievement on this night. 

I flashed back to Vancouver and how terrible the early versions of this tune were during the beginning of the tour. Nothing can make me happier than reporting The Police actually played a monstrous version of So Lonely. Andy Summers earned the MVP on this night, playing a solo that was better than 9/10ths of the solos he played during the first seven years of the band’s existence. My jaw was on the floor as he would drop one beautiful run of notes after another. It was crazy to see the crowd all screaming about how lonely they were with huge smiles on their face.

When the band left the stage after So Lonely, I felt like Nelson Muntz seeing Andy Williams during Spring Break. I was up on my feet clapping my hands together with so much force that I almost broke my thumb. I didn’t think they’d do Next To You — and then BAM! second encore. Next To You was played straight, as the band had already shown their improvisational muscle. There were high-fives and smiles all around when the band walked off the stage at 11 pm.

Sometimes I fucking hate critics. You need to see music for yourself to make the best judgment. I was six when The Police last played New York City, so this was my first real chance to see the band, and it was completely worth the wait. I grew up with these records, and it was so cool to see them played live by the three guys who wrote them. I was fairly pissed at Sting for being so rigid about playing the same set, but after a 23-year layoff they really needed to play these songs every night to work up a rhythm.

The Police are on the road until at least February — so spend the loot before Sting goes back to the lute.

Previously on HT: The Police Week Begins: Bring On The Night and The Police Week Concludes: Tighten Up

The Police
August 1st, 2007
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY

Set: Message in a Bottle, Synchronicity II, Walking On The Moon, Voices Inside My Head >  When The World Is Running Down, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Driven To Tears, Truth Hits Everybody, 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
Invisible Sun, Walking In Your Footsteps, Can’t Stand Losing You, Roxanne

Encore 1: King Of Pain, So Lonely, Every Breath You Take
Encore 2: Next To You

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0 Responses

  1. That’s why we have to be patient with reunion tours…we’ve all seen bands that take a few months off from touring and need a little while to recapture the magic — now multiply that by, shit, these guys were off the road and barely speaking for two decades-plus? Anyone who thought they’d be red hot in Vancouver musta been seriously deluded.

    Makes me happy they started up there and slowly made their way east while gaining confidence and composure.

  2. Still the greatest band in the world!

    First of all, Truth Hits Everybody was slow and dragged. These 55 year olds nailed every other song like they did 30 years ago why couldn’t they nail that one? and we know they can play fast because they wailed out next To you at the end.

    The only way it would be worse is if Sting played it on his Lute.

    Great seeing you last night. Do you know we have been friends for….20 years now?!?!?!?

  3. Great to you too NNN. When you told your buddy we had been friends since we were 10 I knew you were mistaken. Bunk Eagle / 1988 = 11 year olds!

    I like the new Truth Hits Everybody better than the old one, but that’s what makes horseracing.

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