How will the Police end its reunion tour in two weeks?
“By firing each other — happily and tearfully and joyfully,” says drummer Stewart Copeland. “‘Sting — you’re fired! Andy — you’re fired!’ Stewart — ha, ha, you’re fired!’ No more beautiful words have ever been spoken.”
In other words, Copeland confirms, there’s no hope that he, singer-bassist Sting and guitarist Andy Summers will change their resolve to bring about an end to the Police’s arresting career once the tour wraps.
“It was always planned as a very finite thing,” Copeland, 56, maintains. “The only way to be creative musicians and artists is to get away from this monster, to burn down the temple, to melt the golden cage and fire everybody — including each other.
“Then we can go back to our lives. Because if there’s a hint, a scintilla of hope of a chance of a glimmer that there is more life to the Police, the indenture will continue and our slavery, our harsh bondage, the cruel joke will be placed heavily on our shoulders.”
That’s a fancy way, of course, of saying the three musicians have grown weary of being part of one of the most successful bands in pop history.
Copeland and his mates aren’t complaining about their legacy, however. Together for seven years (1977-84), the trio — which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 — sold more than 50 million copies of its five albums, won six Grammy Awards and still enjoys enduring airplay for hits such as “Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” and “Every Breath You Take.”
Absence — or what Copeland calls “a sabbatical” — only made fans’ hearts grown fonder, apparently. The group’s reunion, announced at the 2007 Grammy Awards and launched May 28 in Vancouver, was the top-grossing tour last year according to PollStar and won the trade magazine’s honor for Major Tour of the Year. It was also Billboard magazine’s Top Selling and Top Tour of the Year and won a People’s Choice award for Favorite Reunion Tour of 2007.
By the time the tour ends on Aug. 7, the venture is projected to be the third-highest-grossing road trip of all-time, with 3.3 million tickets sold for a cool $359 million purse.
“We were all really surprised by what happened,” Copeland says of the tour’s success. “We’re getting a big buzz out of it. Even Sting’s impressed.”
The Police have not disappointed with their performances during the past 14 months, nor have they let fans down with some of the backstage mystique that’s long been part and parcel of the the group’s legend. Known as one of rock’s most volatile bands, comprised of three headstrong musical perfectionists, the Police members are nearly as famous for their inner-band tension as they are for their music.
So some sort of blow-up was pretty much expected from the time the reunion was announced.
“Oh, we had plenty of blowups,” confesses Copeland, who sparked a big one with an early-tour Internet posting about an early show’s musical failing — which he contends was actually “a very funny, little, happy piece that was misrepresented when it was first publicized.”
Nevertheless, Copeland says, he, Sting (real name Gordon Sumner) and Summers have certainly been venting during the course of the tour.
“It started about every three days, then it started to be every four or five days, then every couple of weeks,” the drummer explains. “But they’re over really quickly. In fact, they’re kind of perfunctory these days — ‘You bastard!’ ‘You (expletive) (expletive)!’ ‘Kiss my (expletive)!’ ... ‘OK, let’s take it from the chorus’ ...
“By the way, all the shouting and screaming — it’s only to do with the music. The minute we’re not talking about music we’re very close, probably moreso because of the shouting we do over the music. We kind of kiss and make up afterwards.”
Copeland says a bit of sentimentality is “creeping up” on him as the Police near their final show. The reunion tour will yield some souvenirs, specifically a live CD and DVD recorded Dec. 1-2 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The latter will include a documentary, “Better Than Therapy,” directed by Copeland’s son Jordan that, according to the drummer, “totally gets right under our skins ... His analysis of the group is better than any I’ve seen.”
But in the elder Copeland’s final analysis, the Police are ending on a happy note, with no regrets at all.
“My wife’s been asking me, ‘How are you gonna handle this when it’s all over?’” notes Copeland, who will begin working “with a major orchestra to write a major concerto” after the tour ends. “And I’m thinking, ‘Piece of cake ...’ But who knows? Maybe we’ll all go into black depression.
“But I have a feeling not, ’cause we really have a feeling of completion. Our relationships ... are so improved. All the questions are answered. All the mysteries are revealed. All the misunderstandings have been cleared up. And the reason we’re having so much fun is because we know one day it will be gone.”
The Police and Elvis Costello & the Imposters perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (July 26) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $232.50 and $97.50 pavilion, $47.50 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com
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