Red Light, Green Light
It is just after 10:30 a.m. on Monday, February 12th, and a group of about 150 international entertainment journalists, music-industry insiders, and rock star celebs are ushered into Los Angeles’ famed Whiskey A-Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard. Joining them is a small but fiery group of hardcore fans who won admittance via an Internet contest. Most everyone looks either exhausted, hung over, or both, having survived a night of post-Grammy Awards parties in L.A.
Appearing: July 5th and 6th at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Still, all have gathered — at what, on this morning, is an ungodly hour — to hear the official announcement of what they already know: The Police have reunited and are doing a world tour in 2007. Today’s ultra-exclusive event is billed as a “tour rehearsal,” but with it being broadcast on the Internet, this could be one of the cooler press conferences in recent memory.
The night before, The Police opened the 49th Annual Grammy Awards broadcast with a blistering version of “Roxanne.” It had been in the music trades for weeks that a tour was in the works, and now it was official.
On the small Whiskey stage is the unmistakable gear of the legendary British band and a massive backdrop that reads: “Best Buy Presents: The Police Live In Concert.” What the assembled find out later is the first people to be able to buy the best seats for the tour are those consumers who are signed up for the Best Buy Rewards Program. Hopefully, there are some left for anyone else who wants to see the tour.
Welcome to the world of the corporate rock ‘n’ roll reunion.
For the music event some had said was about as likely as John Lennon returning from the dead, The Police decided the time was finally right to join the ranks of Cream, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel, and an ever-increasing crop of others who have done the reunion shuffle in grand style.
Just after 11 a.m., the audio portion of a British TV interview with Sting is piped through the club’s powerful P.A.: “Do you ever see yourself doing a Police reunion?” asks the faceless journalist. “If I ever reformed The Police, I would be certified completely insane,” comes the deadpan response. The crowd cheers wildly, and out come Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland, and Sting.
As they strap on their instruments, Sting steps up to the microphone to address the crowd: “We’re The Police, and we’re gonna come clean: We’re going on tour.” Then with a quick count-off from drummer Copeland, they break into a feverish “Message In A Bottle.” A few songs later, they stop playing to announce the tour and bring out Live Nation’s Arthur Fogel (whose company is producing the reunion), a spokesperson from Best Buy, and a representative from Water Aid, the organization dedicated to providing access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education in Third World nations. The Police have agreed to give a portion of the proceeds of the tour to this charity.
The first North American leg of the reunion tour is now entirely sold out. In all, the tour will take the band around the world for the better part of a year, playing arenas and large stadiums. Included in the tour will be headlining gigs at the Bonnaroo Festival, Fenway Park in Boston, two days at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey (the first night is a global-warming-awareness concert including guest appearances by several major acts and then a second night on their own), and two nights at Madison Square Garden. Oh, and then there’s two at Wrigley Field on July 5th and 6th. All sold out immediately.
“World domination, totally,” says Summers with a laugh, when asked how big he envisions this reunion to be. Copeland, leans over and is slightly more direct: “We will conquer the world and set it afire; eat your children; enslave your kings and queens; rape and pillage around the world . . .”
The band take a few more questions from the journalists, and then break into another round of songs: “Voices Inside My Head,” which segues into the post-apocalyptic anthem “When The World Is Running Down (You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around),” “Can’t Stand Losing You,” and the obligatory “Roxanne.”
To say the band sound lava-hot would be an understatement. They played the Whiskey with the high energy level that helped establish them 30 years ago, however, the music now contains a certain level of maturity that comes only through years of experience and a renewed sense of inspiration.
The rock press has been asking about a reunion since The Police broke up in 1984 following the Synchronicity tour. Aside from a few brief appearances together (the Amnesty International Benefit in 1986; Sting’s wedding to Trudie Styler; and the band’s induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2003), it was pretty much understood Sting was only interested in advancing the career of Sting.
– Bruce Pilato
For the rest of The Police’s reunion story, pickup a free copy of Illinois Entertainer, available throughout Chicagoland.
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