Police return to Omaha, and fans pull over to party...

May 14, 2008

At the last Police concert in Omaha in 1982, some fans recall the band vowing never to play here again after someone in the crowd hurled a bottle on stage that apparently came close to whacking drummer Stewart Copeland.

Sting and the Police appeared in concert Wednesday at the Qwest Center Omaha. Either the incident never happened or the band has forgiven and forgotten that display of bad behaviour.

Whatever the case, it's a good thing the Police came back to town. Many local fans have waited over 25 years to see the trio, which stopped touring in 1984, revive its blend of reggae, punk, jazz and rock live onstage.

The wait ended Wednesday when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers brought their worldwide reunion tour to the Qwest Center Omaha. Despite astronomical ticket prices with face values as high as $227, 10,000 fans turned out to see them Wednesday night.

Around 8:50 p.m., the lights dimmed, the crowd roared and Sting took a seat on a stool with an acoustic guitar, leading the Police in a pretty version of 'Bring on the Night' before tearing into 'Message in a Bottle'.

"It's nice to be back in Omaha. The Police haven't played here since 1982. I was 10 at the time," Sting joked, "but we are still the same band."

And a great one at that.

The Police played 19 songs to an enthusiastic crowd ranging from pre-teens to people closer to Sting's age of 56. The bulk of fans were in their 30s and 40s, and they were eager to sing along to radio hits like 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da', 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic', and 'Don't Stand So Close to Me'. The latter song took on a more laid-back vibe than the urgency of the original version and was among several reworked renditions of hits.

The crowd seemed particularly enamored with Copeland. Wearing a black-and-white tee and a sweatband across his forehead, Copeland, 55, was captivating throughout the Police's 100-minute performance as he displayed his drumming dexterity.

He was especially impressive on a mesmerizing take of 1983's 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', which was the highlight of the concert. Standing before an auxiliary percussion rig, the lanky Copeland played chimes, timpani, bells and a huge gong to dazzling effect.

Clad in a sleeveless shirt and black boots, Sting was in fine voice for most of the show, though he strained at times to reach some of the higher notes.

Guitarist Andy Summers, the oldest of the bunch at 65, hardly moved around the stage in his black and lime-green sneakers, but he was superb with bracing solos on 'Driven to Tears', 'When the World Is Running Down' and 'So Lonely'.

The band's encore featured a volley of fan favorites, including 'Roxanne', 'King of Pain', 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Next to You', which closed the show.

Though the Police have said they'll be done for good after a final show in New York in August, one has to wonder if it's really the end. One hopes they'll surface again.

Opening the show was another band from Britain's late-'70s new wave-punk scene, Elvis Costello and the Imposters.

Costello gave a standout solo performance in Omaha last fall when he opened for Bob Dylan, but the edgy and charming singer-guitarist was even better with his three-man Imposters in tow.

Along with keyboard ace Steve Nieve, drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragher, the 53-year-old Costello mixed his set with hard-hitting classics and songs from his new album, 'Momofuku'.

He delivered a dozen songs in his 50-minute set, including 'Radio Radio', 'Watching the Detectives', 'Pump It Up', 'Everyday I Write the Book', and '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?'

Though many fans arrived late for Costello's set, most of them were in their seats by the time Sting came out for a duet with Costello on 'Alison', which was one of several highlights of a dynamite show.

© Omaha World Herald by Niz Proskocil


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