It's always a thrill to see a two-act bill featuring headliner-worthy acts. But it's even better when they share the stage for a few fleeting moments.
Hence the rush of energy early in Wednesday night's Police/Elvis Costello and the Imposters show at Superpages.com Center at Fair Park. Mr. Costello, the opener, was already putting on a gangbusters show when a guy in a Panama hat and a salt-and-pepper beard walked onstage to lend vocal support on "Alison."
Lo and behold, it was Sting, who pitched in on choruses and even got to do a solo verse. Some thirty years after Elvis and Sting came out of the English punk scene, their pop aim is still true.
Which isn't to say it sounded the same as it ever did – both sets featured new takes on old classics. That's probably a mental survival mechanism for the Police, who came through Dallas last June but haven't put out a new album in 25 years (and likely never again will). Mr. Costello, by contrast, just released the curiously titled Momofuku, from which he played a few songs during his 50-minute set.
The Police found interesting ways to tweak their hits, some of which worked better than others. In toning down and switching up his vocals on "When the World Is Running Down" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me," Sting diminished the energy of both songs. (The interpretive jog-dancer in front of me didn't seem to notice. I'd have had what he had, but it's probably illegal).
Other touches fared better, including a deconstructed "Roxanne" with some intriguing jazz phrasings. And on the frequent occasions when the band located and tore into a groove, with Stewart Copelanda banging out the syncopation and Andy Summers coaxing otherworldly sounds from his guitar, it was time to party like it was 1983.
Mr. Costello, his eyebrows frequently raised from behind his signature black-framed glasses, proved a more-than-game opener. Highlights included a dubbed-up version of "Watching the Detectives," featuring inspired accents and flourishes from stalwart keyboard player Steve Nieve; and the new cut "Flutter and Wow," fueled by Mr. Costello's call-and-response exhortation of "Baby, shout out loud." The faithful were more than happy to comply.