The Police Reunion Tour 2007-2008: My Wild Adventures Following The Band
In 2007, The Police Announced a Reunion Tour. And This Fan Went A Little Bit Crazy...
In February 2007, the classic rock band from the 70s and 80s The Police announced what many fans had dreamed of for decades: thirty years after the release of their single "Roxanne," they would be going on a worldwide reunion tour. Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers had only recorded five studio albums together as The Police, but their music had left a legacy for generations of rock fans desperate to see them perform together as a band again.
The Police are easily my favorite band of all time, yet I had been too young during their heyday to ever get to see them in concert. It was one of my biggest regrets as a music lover and a young teenage fan, one that never went away even as I grew older (and older...) I had never dreamed that the chance to see them perform together would ever come, and yet, between February 2007 and August 2008, not only would I get to see them multiple times but I would get to experience amazing adventures related to The Police I never imagined could be possible. From singing on stage with Sting to being in the front row for their last ever concert at Madison Square Garden, I did it all, and a lot of other wild things along the way.
What follows is my story of two amazing years following The Police around the United States. I hope you enjoy it!
The Police - "Message in a Bottle" - Performance from February 12, 2007 at the Whisky a Go Go
The Police announce their reunion tour - and I'm there for it! You can briefly catch me headbanging for the camera at about 4:05 minutes into this clip, as it was broadcast live around the world.
The Police "Rehearsals" at The Whisky A Go-Go
February 12, 2007 - Los Angeles, California
Being interviewed by Reuters News after the performance.For years, Police fans had speculated about the possibility of the band getting together someday for a reunion tour, but nothing ever seemed to materialize - not even after the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. Yet by the fall of 2006, the rumors were getting louder and many were stating they had "insider information" that it was actually going to happen sometime soon.
On February 12, 2007, the night after performing "Roxanne" live to open the Grammy Awards (their first live performance together since 2003), The Police announced they would be going on tour during a special broadcast from the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, California.
And I was there to see it, in person.
HOW I got there is a rather long story in its own right - and one I've written about in detail in my article A Dream Come True: The Whisky A Go Go "Rehearsals". I was one of a fortunate small group of hardcore fans who won passes to get into what was described officially as a "press conference" but ended up being an hour-long Q&A and announcement party, complete with the performance of 4 classic Police songs: "Message in a Bottle," "Roxanne," "Can't Stand Losing You" and "Every Breath You Take". For me, it seemed like nothing could top the experience of not just seeing The Police perform together live for the first time ever, but in a small club venue instead of a large stadium. I'd flown from Philadelphia to Los Angeles just for the experience and it was more than worth it. I eagerly anticipated the first ticket sale dates for the tour, thinking I might go to three or four shows on the East Coast, depending on where they played.
Oh, little did I know what would become of those modest plans of mine...!
The Police at the American Airlines Center - June 26, 2007 - Dallas, Texas
Yep, that's me next to Stewart Copeland, along with a group of other fans backstage on the night of June 26, 2007. Quite a way to finish of the first "real" Police concert I'd get to see on the tour!
The Police tour officially opened in Vancouver in late May 2007. While a lot of my friends and fellow fans made the trek to go to the special opening fan club performance and other two shows in the city, I couldn't because of work commitments. It was torture waiting until the end of June before I could make it to a show, but I survived by living vicariously through the reports and YouTube videos people were posting on-line of the tour.
Still, I knew waiting for my first show in Dallas would be worth it, as I had been invited to join a friend there who had reason to promise me that something "special" might very likely happen if I came with her to Dallas. She was a long-time Police/Stewart Copeland fan who actually had become good friends with the Copeland "clan" through the years, and although nothing was guaranteed chances were high that, with her help, myself and some friends could get backstage with her after the show.
Indeed, when I got to the box office to pick up my tickets and also received a VIP pass for the night, I couldn't believe it! However, we still couldn't predict exactly what we'd be able to get access to after the concert and how much time Stewart might have to spend with us and a few other lucky fans. As such, despite my excitement at finally getting to see a full Police concert (and from the 14th row on the floor, no less!) I was almost so anxious and nervous that I could barely concentrate on the music!
After the concert was over, my friend found me, my fiancé and several other of our Police-fan friends who were there and rounded us up to wait - and not get kicked out of the arena! It took a little nervous waiting and arguing with security but eventually she got in touch with the right person who got us backstage - and in a few minutes Stewart was there to greet us! He only had a short time to spare but was extremely accommodating and happy to get the chance to meet and talk with some of us who were regulars on his message board forum. We posed for some group photos with Stewart before he had to leave, and then his drum tech and right hand man, Jeff Seitz, gave us a tour of Stewart's percussion set-up and the stage.
I couldn't believe I was standing on the very stage the Police had just performed on! It seemed too crazy to believe. But in a way, this was only the very beginning of the madness that would continue on until the following summer.
My Photos from Backstage in Dallas - Down in the "Drum Pit" and BackstageClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Police at Citizens Bank Park - July 19, 2007 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Finally, The Police were playing in my hometown, Philly - and at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, Citizens Bank Park! I had a number of local friends going to this show, some of whom I'd helped buy tickets for so we could all be at the show together. However, I made the mistake of buying my own tickets through the Police fanclub presale, and they ended up being TERRIBLE seats - way off to the side and far back, such that I could hardly see the band on stage. After my close floor seats in Dallas these were a real disappointment and I vowed I would do whatever it would take to get better tickets for the show from this point forward - and never buy tickets through the fan club again! It was also disappointing as it was the only show my mother, also a Police fan, would get to go with me to see. I'd really wanted her to be able to see the band up close at least once on the tour. But she said it was okay, she enjoyed the music anyway - "And besides," she told me, "I want to remember them young and pretty like they used to be. I don't need to see how they look today!" Um, okay, mom...!
Despite our bad seats the show was wonderful. Since I couldn't see much of the stage, I spent the night concentrating only on the music itself and thought the band sounded fantastic. I loved the way they jammed on "Bed's Too Big Without You", "Roxanne" and other songs. Already I thought they sounded better than they had in Dallas just a few weeks before. As the show concluded, I was looking forward to the next concert on my itinerary, which would end up being special as well.
The Police at Fenway Park - July 29, 2007 - Boston, Massachusetts
The Fenway Park concert was one of the first shows I actually bought tickets for on the tour, before The Police announced a Philadelphia date. I had gone to college in the Boston area, so I was looking forward to returning to my old "stomping grounds" for a day before the show. I'd bought a single ticket in a not-great location early on, but after the first two shows we'd gone to together, my fiancé David was eager to go see more. A few nights before the Boston show, he went on StubHub on a lark and found a pair of tickets for sale - in the third row on the floor! I said he was crazy to buy them for the price. He said I was crazy not to say yes. Even though he had work the next day, he said he would drive us up to Boston the night before and drive all night back after the show, if I wanted. Who was I to say no?
So he bought the tickets and, as we were sitting so close, we were able to have the honors of being official StewartCopeland.Net Flag Bearers for the night. It truly ended up being a magical night musically - and otherwise! Not only did Stewart spot us and the Flag, but at the end of the show Stewart even shouted out my fannish nickname, "Sockii" - from the stage! Of course I was screaming and cheering so much at that point, I didn't ever hear it, only heard ABOUT it after the fact from friends who were there.
You can read my full review of The Police on July 29, 2007, which gives more of the story in giddy detail.
The Police at Madison Square Garden - August 1, 2007 - New York City, New York
Madison Square Garden isn't one of my favorite venues for seeing concerts, even though it's relatively easy to get to from Philadelphia. New Yorkers may disagree with me, but I'm not usually fond of the crowd "attitude" at the Garden, and good tickets are insanely hard to get there as so many are willing to pay brokers and less legitimate sellers huge sums for the best seats. I felt reasonably lucky I was able to get floor seats for this concert during the general ticket sale, albeit it all the way at the back of the floor. Even so, being next to the soundboard the audio was great, and I was able to take in the full experience of watching a crowd react to The Police's music. Before the show, a large group of fans from StewartCopeland.Net and the official Police website had met for dinner (and trashing the Houlihan's in Penn Station...) So it was a fun night all around, though perhaps not one of the best shows of the tour for me.
The Police at Giants Stadium - August 5, 2007 - East Rutherford, New Jersey
This concert at Giants Stadium was a bittersweet experience in many ways. It was the last show of the summer U.S. leg of The Police's tour before the band would take a short break and tour Europe. I had tickets to see them two more times later in the fall, in New York and Philadelphia again, but it was already starting to feel "close to the end" in some ways. And I wasn't ready to give up on the thrill and buzz of seeing them perform and spending time with all of my new friends in Police fandom.
Speaking of those friends, one arranged for a massive tailgate party for this show, complete with huge rented party bus and a food/drink spread that could have fed probably a hundred people (of course, she's Jersey Italian like us, so food is ALWAYS a priority at any gathering!) We hung out in the parking lot so long we missed opening acts Fiction Plane, and fortunately some of The Fratellis (I'd seen enough of them in Philadelphia, thanks.) While originally I'd only had side seats up rather high, the week before the show I'd gotten an amazing deal on floor seats in the 9th row, on an aisle, via StubHub. I was getting spoiled already for good seats at Police shows and these were really great for being down on the floor, right in the middle of the action. It was a great show and a wonderful send-off for the band for the summertime.
The Police at Madison Square Garden - October 31, 2007 (CHAlloween) - New York City, New York
To most people, it's known as Halloween. But for Police fans, October 31, 2007 was CHAlloween - a celebration of The Police, in costume, at Madison Square Garden. The "CHA" was for a campaign which began on the official Police message board to get Sting to chant "CHA!" at least once during the tour, as he used to so often when The Police performed live. Yellow CHA! wristbands were handed out to whomever would take one, and premiering at CHAlloween were what would become the infamous Police "CHAballs" - inflatable orange beach balls with CHA! on one side, and the Police Ghost in the Machine logo on the other. CHAballs would take flight nightly during Police concerts from this point forward, typically during the frenzied instrumental jam during "Can't Stand Losing You."
While many fans showed up that night in costume, we did not expect the Police themselves to do so as well. I had a great seat just slightly behind stage (what fans would come to call "Stew Heaven" as it was perfect for watching Stewart perform) and our entire section erupted in shrieks and applause as we saw Sting, Andy and Stewart emerge. Sting had chosen a yellow and black Harlequin costume (and extremely tight-fitting one at that!); Andy was dressed as Charlie Chaplin and even performed "in character" all night; and Stewart? Well, none of us could quite figure out what Stewart's costume was until he explained it on his message board. To quote:
"Super hero has been rotting in his grave. Gets dug up, eats small child, plays concert."
The evening was a delight and we even managed to get one CHAball on stage at Andy's feet, where he pondered it for a while before kicking it back out into the crowd Chaplin-style. Another SC.net mascot, "Sally", would make her debut that night, but not come in to her full glory until next year. But I was also growing more melancholy as I only had tickets for one more Police concert at the time: November 14, 2007 in Philadelphia. While there was increasing talk there might be a second U.S. leg of the tour in 2008, nothing was certain. I was planning on seeing the last concert on my schedule with a bang, organizing a meet up for friends coming in to the city for the show, some as far away as Denver, Colorado. But little did I know...
Stingfluenza Cancels The Police in Philly - No Show in Philadelphia, November 14, 2007
Three disappointed fans drowning our sorrows after the postponed Philly concert.
Sting has notoriously battled laryngitis and other throat difficulties on his tours, therefore it is usually no surprise for him to have to reschedule or cancel concerts after being on the road for a while. Unfortunately such misfortune befell the Philadelphia concert which was to take place on November 14 at the Wachovia Center. Reports from previous nights' concerts were grim. His voice was not sounding good and several songs had been temporarily dropped from the set that were too vocally demanding.
Unfortunately news of the Philly show cancellation did not come until late the night before the planned concert - too late for some friends who had already flown into the city for the concert. November 14 was, as I recall, a dreary and cold day and now we had no real reason to celebrate. Even so, I made arrangements to meet with the unfortunate few who had not been able to cancel their travel plans and we drowned our sorrows over martinis at the Continental Midtown. It was not an especially joyous gathering but we made the most of it - although I recall saying a few less-than-pleasant things about Sting to the person in attendance filming interviews for a documentary on Police fans.
There was no news as to if or when the show would be rescheduled. The band's schedule would soon take them back outside of North America until February, when the last dates were booked in Japan. I wondered if it would turn out that Halloween would in fact end up being my last Police concert after all. It would be some time before I would know for certain...
Stewart Copeland at the Savannah Music Festival - March 26, 2008 - Savannah, Georgia
With a fellow fan in Savannah, Georgia before Stewart's performance.
Eventually dates for a second leg of The Police tour in the United States were announced for the summer of 2008. In the meantime, the band members were planning a brief Spring break - though Stewart Copeland would be keeping busy during that break by appearing in An Evening with Stewart Copeland at the Savannah Music Festival. Us hardcore Stewart fans were excited by the chance to hear Stewart performing some of his original orchestral music for the first time, including a new piece commissioned for the festival itself. A large number of us descended on Georgia for what we called "Stewvannah", partying and celebrating and buying out nearly the entire front two rows of the theater for the event.
It was a wonderful few days spent with many of the best people around. I'd just been going through a rough personal time with the recent death of a close relative, so to get away from things for a while and have a good time was much needed. While we were excited for The Police to get back out on the road in a few months, we were also glad to have a chance to really hear Stewart do his own thing for the first time since the tour began.
Enjoy Stewart Copeland Performing "The Gene Pool" - Music and a Slide Show from the Savannah Music Festival
The Police at Red Rocks Amphitheatre - June 21 & 22, 2008 - Denver, Colorado
Seeing The Police on July 21 and July 22 at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre would end up being another amazing experience. David and I had planned to travel to these shows as soon as they were announced. Not only had we never seen Denver before, but our friend, Pecos, who had arranged the "mischief" in Dallas the previous year lived in the area. Surely more incredible mischief would have to happen in Denver...and we were right!
It began the night before the first concert, when our fan-gathering dinner ended up having a special guest - Stewart's tech Jeff Seitz! During the dinner, Pecos announced that everyone had better make sure to keep tomorrow afternoon free; if things went according to plan we all might get in to the Police's soundcheck! How much fun could that be? While the band was regularly hosting "Soundcheck parties" for local contest winners and those willing to donate a steep amount to charity, it was difficult for your "average" fan to ever gain access.
Well, all went according to plan and the next afternoon, after some sightseeing around Denver, we all got the call to get to Red Rocks - as soon as possible! There were several charity and contest winning groups there, but Stewart's "Nutters" had a solid contingent all of our own. We got to watch the Police run through some warm up songs, and then even had the chance to go up as a group and sing along with Sting on "Can't Stand Losing You!" I tried to get Sting to "CHA!" for us, but no luck. Many of us did get photos with the guys while we had the chance.
After the soundcheck, a few of us were able to hang around with Jeff and some more of the crew to tour backstage, even explore the legendary tunnel beneath Red Rocks. After that afternoon, it was hard to even concentrate on the concert that evening! But it was amazing getting to hear the band perform under the stars at Red Rocks, both that first night and then the second evening. After the first evening, Jeff joined us once again for our post-show celebrations - and got to meet the newest "Nutter" in our crowd, Sally.
You can see my photos from the soundcheck party on Flickr.
The Police at the Wachovia Center - July 29, 2008 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The next stop on our Police summer whirlwind was Philadelphia - for the finally rescheduled concert from November of 2007! Since that earlier date I'd even managed to upgrade my original tickets to 2nd row on the floor. Even better still, before the concert we were able to "sneak" into the soundcheck again with a little help from some friends. I also had a mission to fulfill: Jeff wanted some authentic Italian market Philadelphia cannollis for the crew!
The show was fantastic - despite some highly annoying women we were seated next to who thought they could shove their way into our better seats to flash some skin at Sting. Sting, however, seemed much more interested in our CHA! balls. After the show, friends and fellow fans hung out at Chickie & Petes until almost closing time. We all knew the end was drawing near, and none of us wanted to have to say goodbye - not to each other, and not to The Police.
The Police at PNC Bank Arts Center - August 3, 2008 - Holmdel, New Jersey
I wasn't originally planning on going to the Holmdel show, despite it being reasonably close to home. I'd spent more than enough money chasing after The Police, right? Right. Only that as it got closer and closer to the end of the tour, I just couldn't miss an opportunity to see them one more time.
I'm so glad I did end up going to this show, because it was amazing! Something about the band's performance that night just absolutely ROCKED. We'd spent the afternoon at a friend's pre-concert party, but then made sure to leave early enough to see the entire show. A few friends apparently never made it to the concert from the party which is a shame as the band were truly "on" that night, rocking out all of the classics like "Walking on the Moon", "Roxanne", "So Lonely" and "Can't Stand Losing You". We didn't have the greatest seats but it didn't matter; the music more than made up for it.
This was also the beginning, for me, of my final week of Police adventures. I would have one day to rest up, and then it would be off to Long Island for three supremely crazy days....
The Police at Nikon Jones Beach Theater - August 5, 2008 - Wantagh, New York
Originally, The Police's final two concerts were scheduled to take place on August 4 and August 5, 2008 at Jones Beach. Most of us figured the band couldn't possibly end the tour at such a small, honestly crappy venue! So when they later announced a "real" final concert at Madison Square Garden, it was not really a surprise but many fans were upset nevertheless. Many had bought plane tickets from afar to be at the last shows thinking they would be on Long Island and now it would be two days later in Manhattan. Some couldn't change their tickets. Some had no more money to buy tickets to be at the final, FINAL show - especially as they were being priced almost twice as high as normal as the MSG show was to be a "charity" event. Some even were having tickets they'd bought for MSG changed without their knowledge and consent to inferior tickets without a price correction. The controversies and fan issues surrounding the final Police concerts took over the fan messageboards and communities for quite a time. Personally I had originally bought a ticket for August 4, then sold it when August 5 was announced...and was ready to sell my August 5 ticket as well to just go to MSG instead when I decided I really couldn't bear missing one more show so close to the end.
I took the train from Philadelphia to Long Island on the morning of August 5 and met up with friends there to prepare for a little tailgating and other mischief. This mischief included buying several fluorescent green, tentacle-covered spongy balls at a drug store near the beach. We thought they'd make fun "party favors" for the concert, and boy, did they ever! Near the end of the concert, one of the balls ended up on stage, at Sting's feet - and soon there after in his mouth! The entire band seemed relaxed and as if they were just having a good time, being so close to the end of the tour. They even added in some cover songs and new jams that hadn't been heard on any other nights of the tour.
After the show, fans gathered for another late night party - and breakfast - before heading to bed. I was sharing a motel room with a fellow fan, and the next day we would head in to Manhattan to prepare for the last concert...
Sting Enjoys a Little Krypton Love - Getting a Little Crazy at Jones Beach with The Police!
The Police jamming on "Down So Long" - and then Sting discovered one of the green tentacle balls we'd bought that afternoon before the concert. "I think I'm in love..." he says, after getting a taste!
The Police at Madison Square Garden - August 7, 2008 - New York City, New York
This was it. The end. The last Police concert would take place on August 7 - certainly the last concert of the tour, and very likely for all time.
To say that it was an emotional day is an incredible understatement. I'd spent the bulk of two years getting to know some of the most amazing people in Police fandom from all around the world. I'd gotten to see one of my favorite bands, whom I'd never thought I'd get to see, not once but many times over. I'd even gotten to meet each of them in person, hang out with their road crew, see backstage and so much more it was unreal.
But not to get ahead of myself here. After waking up extremely hung over from the previous night's festivities at Jones Beach, my friend and I drove in to Manhattan to spend the day of August 6 touring around. I took her to one of my favorite restaurants, Menchanko-Tei. We went jewelry shopping in the wholesale district. She checked in to her hotel, and I went to meet Pecos, who'd flown in from Denver for the last concert and whom I'd be staying with overnight. While some Police fans had been lucky enough to win tickets to see the band do a taping of Elvis Costello's "Spectacle" show at the Apollo Theater that day, we hadn't. But, my actor friend John Glover was in town doing a play and had given me a pair of tickets to his show. We went and then had dinner with John, which was a lot of fun - as always. He's a wonderful person and I love getting to introduce friends to him and give them a chance to enjoy his work.
After all of the ticketing controversy regarding the final show, at rather the last minute Stewart Copeland had "come to the rescue" for many fans. Through his website, he gave away 100 tickets to the last show - 20 of which were to be in the "pit" right at the front of the stage. This was such a wonderful gesture as it allowed many fans who could not afford any more tickets to not only be able to get to the last show but to see it from up close, better than just about anyone else! The official fan club also gave away a small number of tickets, but not in the pit. Well, guess where myself, Pecos, my fiancé and a number of our other close friends all were scheduled to be? Yep, up there in the pit. That meant many of us wanted to show up (very) early at MSG to secure a good place in line.
And so, we spent the bulk of the day hanging around at the Garden with all of our new-found friends from around the world. There were fans from Australia, Germany, Argentina, Japan, England, Canada, Spain and of course all across the United States that had come to see the final Police show. Not all had pit tickets but we just turned it in to a party nevertheless, although some left to go to the "official" fan party nearby at Fat Annie's Truck Stop after a while. We posed for pictures in front of the banners and swapped around the SC.net Flag one last time - because somehow, that night, it was finally going to be passed on to Stewart.
When the gates finally opened we stormed in, and I secured my position along the front barricade. I would be front row for the last Police concert! Nothing was going to get me to move from that position all night, not when I had all of my friends there with me. Some people had flowers to toss to the stage. We all had small paper flags that had the SC.net logo on one side, and "THANK YOU" written on the other. It was not just a thank you for the tickets; it was a thank you for the entire tour, and for all Stewart, Sting and Andy had given us these two years.
The band finally came on after opening act, the B-52s, put on a great warm up set. And what a show it was! Maybe musically it wasn't the finest of the entire tour, but from an emotional standpoint there was nothing like it. The New York City Police Department had their drum and bugle corp join the band on stage to open the show with "Message in a Bottle". Several of the band members' teenage children got up to dance on stage with their dads during "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". We passed Stewart's flag along the front so we could all be "flag bearers" one last time. And then, before the encores, we watched as Stewart lifted up the flag and placed it on a special display stand, where it flew for the final songs of the night for all to see.
The show was over far too soon, after an emotional farewell from the band members, Stewart giving us all a "last point" and then even the shirt off his back! In a daze, we all gathered at Fat Annie's for final goodbyes, recollections, and promises to each other that we would remain friends and see each other again, some day...
The Police Take Their Final Bows - "It ain't over until the fat lady sings!"
My video of the final moments of the final Police show. See the band take their final bows, see the "Fat Lady Sing", and Stewart acknowledge as many of his "Nutters" as he can before saying goodbye.
And Now, Three Years Later...
Looking Back at The Police Reunion Tour
It seems hard to believe now that it's almost three years later as I write this, since that last show of The Police's Reunion Tour. It seems like it was only a few months ago, at best - certainly my credit card is still carrying some of the damage from my adventures!
But I don't regret a thing, nor a dollar I spent on the tour and the band. It was a once in a lifetime experience for me and given me memories to last a lifetime. I've stayed in touch with quite a few fandom friends since the end of the tour and met up at numerous gatherings and other concerts. But, I'd be lying to say that it's the same now as it was during the tour.
Whether or not The Police will ever tour or perform together again, I honestly have no idea but I don't really bet on it happening. But I hope if there's a band you love, that perhaps broke up long ago or no longer is touring, that you get the same kind of chance as I did to "relive the magic" with them someday. Thank you, Stewart! Thank you, Andy! Thank you, Sting! And thanks to the entire crew behind The Police who made the tour happen and made it such an incredible experience for us all!
Thanks for reading my crazy story of following The Police around on their reunion tour. Did you go to the tour? Are you a Police fan? Or is there another band you'd love to see reunite or who you have fun stories to tell about following around the world? Your comments and thoughts are most appreciated!
© 2011 Nicole Pellegrini