A night after warming up in front of 4,000 fan club members at Vancouver’s GM Place, the Police officially kicked off their 2007 reunion tour on Monday (May 28) with a 21-song, two-hour set of classics. The set list, which opened with “Message in a Bottle” and closed with “Next to You,” was identical to the warm-up show, although “Spirits in the Material World” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” swapped places in the running order.
“The fan club show was about 100 times better than the rehearsals, and the opening night was about 100 times better than the fan club show,” says Fiction Plane drummer Pete Wilhoit, whose band is opening the entire tour. “When the lights went down and all those people started screaming, it was the loudest thing you’ve ever heard.”
Vocalist/bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland are utilizing no backing vocalists and a bare minimum of pre-recorded tracks on stage when they play favorites such as “Every Breath You Take,” “Spirits in the Material World” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” “The stage is quite cool,” he says. “All the lights and the rigging are from the top, so it’s an open back. There’s a lot of room for the guys to run around.”
Wilhoit, who counts Copeland as one of his drumming heroes, says the Police sound “amazing” so far, a fact he partially attributes to the roar of the sold-out audience. “Rehearsals were solid, but I think Stewart really needed the adrenaline of the crowd to put him back into the old form,” he says. “And Andy’s guitar solos are better than I ever remember. He is even doing these little jumps and kicks. He’s not a young man but he had childlike life in him.”
Fans will be particularly thrilled by tracks like the percussion-enhanced “Walking in Your Footsteps” and “Tea in the Sahara,” which Wilhoit says sounds nearly identical to the version played on the Synchronicity tour in the early ’80s. “Some of the strongest parts about the show are when they stretch out and Andy has an extended guitar solo,” he says. “Sting will walk up and stand on the drum riser and nod his head. They seem to be getting into each other like they used to.”
A host of music industry heavyweights were on hand for the opener. “Suddenly I realized I was standing in between Pearl Jam and R.E.M.,” Wilhoit says with a laugh, adding. “It’s been so much fun. You just close your eyes and listen and it’s like, ‘Holy sh*t! I’m listening to the Police play live!”