Legendary rockers The Police played to a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden on August 1st, the group’s first show in New York in 24 years. Having broken up in 1984, the original trio of lead-singer/bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers, and drummer Stewart Copeland recently reunited for a world tour, which will end in Australia in February. Perhaps best known for their songs “Every Breath You Take,” “Roxanne,” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” the band recorded five albums together.
The Police are as good as they ever were, said Nate Chinen in The New York Times. They still have “a lean and flexible group dynamic, spring-loaded with vital tensions.” Summers played a “handful of engrossing solos” and his “improvisations were full of small but surprising turns”; Copeland “got mileage out of each twittering hi-hat ellipses” and his snare drum “crackled like a recurring pistol report”; and Sting’s voice was “superb,” and he was in “fine form” on bass.
But it took them awhile to get going, said Jay Lustig in The Star Ledger. They sounded “a little tentative early in the show,” and it wasn’t until halfway through the concert that they “hit their stride.” Still, the show was “wisely designed to give the old music space to breath,” and thankfully there were “no new songs, no other musicians and few video distractions.”
One thing was obvious the other night: The Police are more than the sum of their parts, said David Fricke on RollingStone.com. What have been missing from Sting’s solo career for the past two decades have been “a drummer that plays too fast” and a guitarist with “elastic ideas about harmonics and an aversion to conventional chords.” And at the Garden, the “biggest band of the New Wave era” played their songs “with arresting force.”