Walking towards Fenway from Brookline on Sunday evening, it was unusually quiet- I must've missed the rush of folks into the park, because the herd was small, even for a non-game night. Or maybe opening act Fiction Plane put them so sleep. (see Globe review) But when I made it over to the first base side of the park, I could see the masses inside almost spilling over the fences, and another fifty or so folks sitting behind the park. (Note: behind first base is the best place around Fenway to hear anything. Clear sound,very little echo, seems about as close as you can get to being inside without paying $75.)
At about 8:05 though, the park erupted as the Police walked on stage and burst into "Message in a Bottle". At times the crowd almost drowned out Sting, who was in excellent voice, sending out his SOS. What followed was an hour-plus (I left around 9:15) of Police hits: "Synchronicity II", "When the World is Falling Down", "Every Little Thing She Does". The band played it fairly straight, with a few exceptions; the first verse of "When the World" was in half time, making it much less recognizable; the chorus, as everyone remembers it, then hit like a ton of bricks. And, somewhat daringly, Andy Summer replaced the opening of "Every Little Thing", one of their most recognizable hooks, with an mysterious ascending chord riff. And the band was amazingly tight- I never saw them in their first incarnation, but here it was as good as everybody tells me it used to be- absolutely tight, never any hesitation from the band, everything locked down. When the band did falter, interestingly, was when they opened things up a lot, what some of the rock critics have labeled they're "jazz odysseys". My problem was they weren't odd enough- no one soloed, nothing shifted hugely from what came before, things just sort of sat their for awhile, sometimes several minutes, until Sting started to sing again. For all their strengths, and they are many, I never thought the Police grooved hard enough to have that be enough the way it is with a great funk band, so what could of been "WHOMP" felt like a dull thud.
In some ways, I'm glad I didn't drop the big bucks. I'm glad I heard what I heard, and I'm sure it was a lot of fun, but listening to a band relive the good old days (which ultimately is what they were doing despite all the band's pontificating to the contrary) is not my cup of tea. But it was quite a lovely cup of tea.