Sting Still Can't Play Well With Others

The Police at Madison Square Garden. Photo: AP Photo/Stephen Chernin

There comes a time when every critical rock fan must cast away her skepticism and embrace the joyous cliché of the reunion show. Who cares if the Police have quite a few less follicles than they had in their prime? Unlike the rest of us, they seemingly haven't gained a pound since their heyday, and if we squinted a bit, we could easily be thrown back in time to their younger days — and, of course, to our own. And so Friday night's show at Madison Square Garden was fantastic — the kind of concert that wrenches fist pumps, goat throws, and mortifying Carlton Banks–style dancing from the audience's eighties-loving souls.

After all these years, though, Sting still doesn't always play well with others; maybe Stewart Copeland's "petulant pansy" pokes at his longtime bandmate Gordon Sumner weren't as tongue-in-cheek as he claimed. During "Roxanne," Copeland hammered out the beat on his drums in an attempt to lure Sting back from the dreamy solo version he's been playing for twenty-plus years, before finally giving up, smiling at guitarist Andy Summers, and succumbing. The entire concert followed Sting's lead, the Police playing more softly and more gently than we remembered them. The songs lacked the frenzied punk energy they had in the eighties, but hey — so do we. —Danielle Bruno