FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Police -- Sting, left, with Andy Summers on guitar and Stewart Copeland on drums -- played before a sold-out crowd at the Blaisdell Arena Saturday night.
The Police offer an arresting show
That was the first thing Paul Kreiling, co-owner of downtown's rRed Elephant, said after Saturday's concert by the Police at the Blaisdell Arena.
A recording engineer who has seen the trio in concert before, Kreiling said that "they had so much energy, and they were so fine-tuned to each other. I think they loved it in here. It was the perfect rock concert. You can't ask for anything more."
Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland triumphantly wrapped up the Pacific Rim portion of their worldwide reunion tour in Honolulu with concerts Saturday and last night -- and almost anyone in either audience would heartily concur with Kreiling.
As soon as they launched into the opening "Message in a Bottle," the Police had ecstatic fans in the palm of their collective hand.
The guys have aged well, especially charismatic front man Sting, who was in fit form both physically and vocally. (Although he was pacing himself, when he wanted to he could still hit the high notes.) A bespectacled Copeland was an absolute rock, laying down a solid rhythmic foundation, whether behind his drum kit or adding gentle accents within a panoply of percussion instruments. Summers, still cutting an impish figure in his 60s, is a bolder guitarist after all these years. Whenever he had his trusty red Stratocaster strapped on, he would let loose with thoughtful, distorted guitar lines that could border on the boldly atonal.
The well-choreographed show used simple but effective lighting, and three video screens above-stage guaranteed most every one in the arena a good view.
Revisiting a time-tested repertoire, the Police gave some songs extended arrangements. That favored the more groove-oriented songs like "Walking on the Moon," with Summers playing those familiar ringing and spacious chords. Sting also played the role of song leader, leading the crowd through every "ohhh-whoa" and "be-yo-yo-yo."
Only two songs in the set could've used a bit of that younger Police energy. "Da Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" didn't have the exuberant bounce of the original, and the band opted out for the blander, smoothed-over version of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" from their 1984 hits compilation. (The magenta stage lighting was a nice touch, though.)
The joy of interplay was evident as they ended the first half with the syncopated swing of "Hole in My Life" and a stripped-down "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."
The more serious songs were given more of an dramatic oomph. A quiet if intense "Wrapped Around Your Finger" had a more rueful air, with the chorus given a bit more gravity courtesy Copeland's kettle drum accents. "Invisible Sun," originally influenced by the political violence in Northern Ireland, was the night's only message song, illustrated by a photo montage of children's faces the world over.
After ending the show proper with biting renditions of "Can't Stand Losing You" and "Roxanne," the band encored with a well-sung "King of Pain" that quickly segued to the reggae-fied "So Lonely," attacked with verve and authority.
Something unexpected occurred at the conclusion of "Every Breath You Take," when Summers absentmindedly stayed onstage after Sting and Copeland had exited in anticipation of the night's finale encore. After an awkward moment, the guitarist started playing the introduction to "Next to You," causing Sting and Copeland to return sooner than planned. Sting couldn't resist giving Summers a remonstrative side kick to the butt, which Summers quickly returned in kind.
Ahhh, some things haven't changed between these three musician-brothers.
When the Police are finally put to rest, look no further than Sting's son, Joe Sumner, to pick up the mantle. His band, Fiction Plane, had the choice opening slot through much of this tour, a showcase for their singles "Hate" and "Two Sisters."
Like his famous dad, Sumner plays bass, sings and is quite the showman, and he plays in a trio, with guitarist Seton Daunt and Pete Wilhoit. They do, at times, sound like a junior version of the Police. All are fine musicians in their own right, though, and all they need is a memorable song or two to get them to the next level.