The 21 year wait is over and the magic is still there. After more than five months on tour, the Police arrived triumphantly to a packed Philips Arena Saturday night, the British trio's first appearance in Atlanta since the Amnesty International concert in June 1986 at the long-gone Omni Arena.
For years, fans have been clamoring for the Police to reunite, but the trio found other pursuits. The fact Sting's solo career took off didn't exactly force him back into the other two's arms. Only now, more than two decades later, have they decided to cash in their chips, and the pent-up demand made the tour a slam dunk across the globe. So far, after 53 dates, the Police have grossed an astounding $171 million, by far the biggest of the year of any group. The group kerplunked another estimated $3 million in the till tonight (helped by the fact they sold tickets behind the stage, too.)
With ticket prices ranging from $52 to $227 (before Ticketmaster charges), Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland didn't waste the audience's time with new songs, superfluous patter or particularly off-the-wall takes on their known nuggets. Rather, the three kept the concert tight and bright, racing through 19 mostly greatest hits over an hour and 45 minutes, from a hearty 'Synchronicity II' to a poignant 'Invisible Sun'.
Harking back to their first Atlanta stop at the Agora Ballroom back in 1979, the Police truly kept it simple - no backup singers, no brass section, no keyboardist. But they produced a deep, rich sound that easily filled the upper reaches of the arena thanks to the still-supple vocals and skilled bass play of Sting, the proficient (if not terribly exciting) guitar work of Summers, and the joyous, propulsive beat of Copeland.
Summers, bless his heart, is a bit of a dour stage presence who seldom cracks a smile. But Sting's impish grin and confident milieu more than makes up for it. In fact, the still lithe 56 year old wore a tight white cut-off T-shirt (that probably cost $100) better than most 26 year olds. He was always aware of his audience, encouraging them to sing or clap along, keeping most fans on their feet the entire concert.
Copeland (his muss of hair now mostly gray but still boyishly thick) banged away with the energy of a teen-ager. He had an especially good time with a set of percussion instruments behind his drumkit (including a gong and a xylophone) during a more jam-like take on 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' from their final and biggest album 'Synchronicity'.
The playlist featured virtually all the big hits ('Spirits in a Material World' and 'Murder By Numbers' were exceptions) and most of the arrangements hewed closely to the originals. For instance, they fortunately opted for the original take on 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' rather than the dirge-like 1986 version. And the obnoxious yet catchy 'Can't Stand Losing You' still packs a punch in the gut 28 years later.
The Police will be back tonight and there are still good seats left, at least at the $92 and $227 price levels, based on a check tonight on Ticketmaster.com.
Here's the set list, which they have seldom veered from on this North American tour. 'Spirits in the Material World', 'Murder by Numbers' and 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' were played elsewhere but not at the Saturday night gig.
Message in a Bottle
Walking on the Moon
Voices Inside My Head/When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around
Don't Stand So Close To Me
Driven To Tears
Hole In My Life
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You
King of Pain
Every Breath You Take
Next To You
© The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Rodney Ho