|The Police, 7/11/07 (photo © Donald Gibson)|
Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland took the stage to a roaring reception, kicking off with “Message In A Bottle” before running roughshod through “Synchronicity II” and eliciting an audience sing-along to “Walking On The Moon.”
The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd seemed to encourage levity among the notoriously temperamental band. Sting engaged the audience often, trotting around the stage to countless camera flashes, casually chatting between songs, and exchanging knowing looks with his band mates. Summers and Copeland, likewise, genuinely appeared in high spirits.
The band was at its best when it took a few chances to breathe fresh life into some of their most familiar radio singles, like “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” the latter featuring Copeland deftly switching back and forth between a riser of auxiliary percussion and his Tama drum kit.
Some risks weren’t worth taking, though. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” sounded erratic throughout, thus bewildering those attempting to sing along. Also, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” dragged with muddled bass, a far cry from the dexterous original on 1980’s Zenyatta Mondatta.
Fortunately, such instances were rare, and thereafter the band fared much better on “Walking In Your Footsteps” and “Can’t Stand Losing You,” which segued into the title track of Reggatta de Blanc. An extended version of “Roxanne,” rock’s most recognizable ode to a prostitute, closed out the main set under a flood of red light.
No less than three encores followed, featuring “King Of Pain,” “So Lonely,” “Every Breath You Take,” and “Next To You.”
While all of the performed songs ranged in age from twenty-four to thirty years old, the concert did not feel like a reminiscent event. Quite the contrary, it seemed like the Police reconvened as a relevant force, and in Tampa, perhaps as in other towns on their current tour, they punctuated their collective career with one emphatic exclamation mark.