By this, I mean The Police and not NOPD. Sting and the boys played the New Orleans Arena last night, to thunderous applause and several loud sing-along sessions. An out-of-town friend asked if there was a time warp passing through this area, to which I replied, “Yes, although at least one of The Police has to be on Viagra and Stewart Copeland is eligible to join the AARP now.”
Indeed, the lads have reunited for a world tour after a 23-year-long hiatus. D saw them last in 1984, when they tersely played a one-hour set after which the house lights came up and everyone was asked to leave, and remembers thinking, “Oh, sounds like mom and dad are fighting.”
Back to the show review.
Merchandise: $35 for the cheapest shirt, with the most expensive piece of clothing there marked $150. No thanks, Ticketshafter.
Opening Band: Fiction Plane was horrible — the lead singer sounded like Tom Jones with a sore throat wanting to sound like Sting — and we couldn’t wait until they quickly exited. Really, it was so bad that we didn’t enter the seating area until the moment Fiction Plane ended, with D repeatedly announcing, “Thank you New Orleans. Good night!” after each song in the hopes that the collective cacophony would leave and soon. Further research indicates that this band is fronted by Joe Sumner, son of Gordon Sumner, a.k.a. Sting, with actress Frances Tomelty. It all makes sense now. Too bad Joe inherited a lot of his father’s good looks but not his vocal capabilities. I know, Sting, you tried.
Vital Statistics: Sting was his usual ripped and entertainer self with a full and beautiful voice, Stewart Copeland looked like a middle-aged Spinning instructor with arms that can drum for weeks on end, and Andy Summers can still play that guitar, though having to peer down at it through two or three chins.
The Stage: Ample walking room up front for Sting and Summers, while the back was elevated for Copeland’s drums and a whole range of percussion toys and a xylophone of sorts, highlighted during Wrapped Around Your Finger. Copeland also inserted some goofy hijinks by running back and forth from his percussion contraption to the drum set, and throwing his sticks all over the place.
New Orleans Focused Comments: Sting mentioned the enduring spirit of New Orleans despite all that we have been through, and once asked us to join a chant with him that could be heard up in Washington. Why the crowd got eerily quiet at that point, I cannot say. The only New Orleanians I ran into before the show (and I looked) are Celcus, D’s boss and his wife, and a guy in a Pantera shirt I see almost everywhere in this city, so either the audience wasn’t mostly from New Orleans and didn’t care, or are from New Orleans and simply thought, “Shut up and throw us some cash, you and Bono.”
The Technical Thrust: Three large-screen TVs ringed the top front of the stage, showing movies and photo montages that went with each song or the album cover of the song playing at the time. For instance, during Truth Hits Everybody and Can’t Stand Losing You, the screens showed pieces of the Outlandos d’Amour album cover; same with songs from Reggatta de Blanc, Ghost In The Machine and Synchronicity. During Invisible Sun, pictures of indigent children from all over the world faded in and out, while animated Apatosaurus (no longer the mighty Brontosaurus, sorry Sting) skeletons ran across the screen for Walking In Your Footsteps, causing me to note, “The motion of the rear limbs of the specimen is utterly wrong. There is no way Apatosaurus could move like that.” Songs such as Driven To Tears and Invisible Sun are still relevant after all these years, especially lyrics which apply quite readily to New Orleans or any sad world problem.
How can you say that you’re not responsible?
What does this have to do with me?
What is my reaction, what should it be?
Confronted by this latest atrocity.
… Protest is futile, nothing seems to get through
What’s to become of our world? Who knows what to do?
Overall Impression: “Seriously inspired” is not what comes to mind about this show, but I was feeling it as I would even if Copeland were banging a hammer on a concrete floor, Sting were crooning in an old codger’s voice and Summers plucked at a toy guitar. Thanks to my older brother, Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd and The Police served as a large portion of my early childhood soundtrack, and it is hard to ignore the beat which defines you. So, the two things I learned from this show are:
2. I know the lyrics to every song in last night’s set list.
And, not even the pot-smoking yappers in front of me and the leopard-skin-bodysuit-wearing, greatly-surgically-altered, cellphone-yapping and writhing Gabor-wannabe in back could curb the enthusiasm. Why do people come to concerts, when all they do is talk to one another or on their cellphones?
Conclusion: I’m glad to have seen the boys live, admitting to a wince or two when Andy Summers attempted mid-air splits or Stewart Copeland did the open-mouthed pant all over his drumset (that was televised on the big screen — gross). The boys have practised their hearts out and are genuinely glad to be back on the road together. I’m glad they split up when they did, at their best, and kept last night’s show to two hours, while still interesting. It’s the only way to keep your fans coming back for more.
Here is the New Orleans 2007 setlist, including the entire main set and three, yes three, encores, all of which I was compulsive enough to write down for reference purposes.
1. Message In A Bottle
3. Walking On The Moon
4. Voices Inside My Head / When The World Is Running Down medley
5. Don’t Stand So Close To Me
6. Driven To Tears
7. The Bed’s Too Big Without You
8. Truth Hits Everybody
9. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
10. Wrapped Around Your Finger
11. De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da
12. Invisible Sun
13. Walking In Your Footsteps
14. Can’t Stand Losing You
16. King Of Pain
17. So Lonely
18. Every Breath You Take
19. Next To You
I close with an homage to The Police from Bloom County:
Opus: “Every leaf you rake / Every dog you wake / Every herring you bake / I’ll be watching you.”
Backstage voice: “Umm, Opus, Sting and the boys would like a word with you.”