Playing loud and loose like they had never been away, the Police kicked off their first world tour in more than 20 years on Monday, delivering a two-hour set for 20,000 fans in Canada.
Singer/bass player Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland dusted off old favorites such as “Message in a Bottle,” “Roxanne” and “Every Breath You Take” during the show, the first of two at the GM Place arena.
“Since we haven’t been together in 25 years, I’d like to introduce the band. Andy, this is Stewart,” a casual Sting joked a few songs into the concert.
Famous fans in attendance included actress Penelope Cruz, and Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder. Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler, sang along ecstatically from her seventh-row berth, accompanied by Jerry Moss, the co-founder of the Police’s A&M Records label.
The tour unofficially kicked off the night before when the band played a dress rehearsal for about 4,000 members of its fan club. The Police have been rehearsing for about four months, after Sting decided the time was right for a reunion and called up his old bandmates.
The band broke up amid clashing egos in 1984, after the last date of its Synchronicity world tour in Australia, but it reunited for a handful of dates benefiting Amnesty International in 1986.
Sting went on to even greater fame and fortune as a solo artist delving into the pop, rock, jazz and even classical genres, while Copeland focused on composing for film and television, and Summers explored his jazz roots with various projects.
Monday’s show began with the early hit “Message in a Bottle,” an ode to loneliness drawn from the band’s second album, 1979’s “Reggatta de Blanc.” Six songs came from their final album, 1983’s “Synchronicity,” which topped the U.S. charts for 17 weeks.
Tunes such as “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Walking on the Moon” recalled the band’s early reggae stylings, while the evening’s final song, “Next To You,” served as a reminder of its punk-rock roots.
The stage was a simple affair, a split-level oval floor unencumbered by proscenium or backdrop. The special effects were limited to a retractable percussion setup used by the energetic Copeland on several songs.
The world tour is scheduled to end early next year, following two North American legs, a European tour, and dates throughout Latin America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The band’s plans beyond that are the subject of some internal disagreement. Summers recently told Guitar Player magazine that the “obvious thing” to do would be to make another album and then return to the road.
But Copeland told Reuters last week that he had no desire right now to do those things, and was simply looking forward to having “a blast for one year.”