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The Police w/ Elvis Costello @ The Marcus Amphitheater

Friday, July 25, 2008

Jul. 29, 2008
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   From the moment the first chords of “Message in a Bottle” sounded for what appeared to be a capacity Marcus Amphitheater crowd, it was clear last Friday’s hot, muggy night belonged to Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers, collectively known as The Police. Based on their exuberance, energy and apparent sheer pleasure in playing together, the Grammy-winning trio took obvious joy in their reunion tour, which is soon to conclude its second year.

  Credit the musicians’ energy for bringing 90 minutes of their greatest hits to life before an enthusiastic and slightly older crowd. Whether it was “Walking on the Moon,” “Demolition Man,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Roxanne,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” “Every Breath You Take” or “King of Pain,” the trio never held back, playing to win the hearts of the audience. Those efforts, without a doubt, succeeded beyond expectation.

  Sting remains the face and voice of the band, and his showmanship and humor offered constant guidance throughout the evening. He several times introduced his bandmates but never once was subject of an introduction himself. One supposes that since he has remained a vibrant solo artist all these years, he truly is a performer who needed no introduction.

  But Sting would not have succeeded without Summers’ searing guitar and, especially, Copeland’s wildly evocative drumming. Part of the evening’s credit also goes to the superb audiovisual support, which filmed the talented percussionist up close and personal, including shots taken through the bottom and clear head of his tom-tom, with Copeland furiously pounding away on the other side. His inventory of instruments is staggering, and seeing him play each and every one, courtesy of the huge digital projection screen behind the stage, gave the concert as much visual appeal as aural.

  “This is your chance, Milwaukee!” Sting shouted in introducing “Can’t Stand Losing You.” “I want you to sing so fucking loud that they’ll be able to hear you in Canada!”

  He needn’t have leveled the challenge. The crowd had reached that goal two songs ago.

  One has to pity poor Elvis Costello and the Imposters, whose 50-minute opening set was bereft of much of the technical support from which The Police benefited, and suffered the indignity of being a daylight performance for a sparsely filled house. A great performer in his own right, Costello offered up his own hits, including “Watching the Detectives” and “Pump It Up,” but he only seemed to catch most of the audience’s attention when Sting wandered out to sing a duet version of “Alison.” The song gained an entirely new dimension thanks to the pair’s harmonies.


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