Salt Lake Tribune, July 21, 2008

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The Police, Elvis Costello sing
crowd-pleasin' harmonies at Usana

David Burger

After touring virtually nonstop since May of last year, The Police showed a nearly sold-out crowd at West Valley City's Usana Amphitheatre that their reunion tour is still everything fans expected it to be, more than 20 years since they last played here.

Rather than being exhausted by touring several continents, the three members of The Police — singer and bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland — exhibited vigor and energy and even shared a few smiles while they played together. Onstage, the band members belied the rancor that split up the band more than two decades ago.

The trio opened with the one-two punch of "Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon" that kept the audience in the lawn seats on their feet throughout the 100-minute performance that included two encores.

Just as good as the quality of the well-crafted songs was the sound system at the Amphitheatre, where you clearly hear Sting's vocals, Summers' licks and Copeland's often inventive percussion.

Avoiding solo tracks recorded by individual band members in later years, the band played 20 songs from the trio's five studio albums, adding slightly different elements to songs, keeping the arrangements fresh. For example, the band's performance of "Roxanne" was similar to one Sting performed during his solo tours, and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" featured unique percussion from Copeland, who was surrounded by different percussion instruments including a gong.

The set design wasn't too flashy, with strobes and fluorescent lights dominating but never overshadowing the music. The band was backed by a huge high-definition screen that was so crisp that every hair in Sting's grey beard could be seen. The screen mostly showed the band in action, except for old photos of the band during "Next to You" and happy poor kids during "Invisible Sun."

Elvis Costello was a welcome opener as the sun blazed overhead and right into his eyes; he came on stage with a crack three-piece backing band five minutes before the scheduled showtime of 7:30 p.m. While still finding room to play from his latest album Momofuku, his 12-song set featured energetic versions of his best known songs, including "Watching the Detectives," "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?" and "Pump It Up."

The best moment of Costello's set, and arguably the whole concert, was when Sting came onstage to sing harmony with Costello's "Alison." It was one of those moments that the audience felt privileged to witness and, it typified the artistry of the night.


The Salt Lake Tribune, July 21, 2008

David Burger reviews The Police and opening act Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Saturday, July 19, 2008, USANA Amphitheatre, West Valley City, UT.


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