July 14, 2007
Words by Bill Whiting
This one was supposed to be one huge party. The Police, reuniting to play the storied grounds of Kentucky’s famous racetrack, Churchill Downs. Unfortunately, not every great moment on paper works its magic in a live context.
A slow start to "Message in a Bottle" exposed the group’s shortcomings with Andy Summer’s guitar hero histrionics separating from Sting’s antsy art-influenced bass playing. Stewart Copeland seemed to be the band’s saving grace, struggling to keep pop hits like "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Roxanne," and "King of Pain" grounded as the duo of Sting and Summers went off on their own tangents.
What seemed like a Sting solo show consisting of an all Police setlist was not endearing the group to Churchill’s denizens, and neither was the show’s deliberate pace. "Walking in Your Footsteps," which seemed novel back in the mid 80’s, drudged along as Sting perpetually smiled down upon the pricey seats in the house.
"Can’t Stand Losing You," and "Invisible Sun" from their Ghost in the Machine recording fared better, but it was not enough to save an already sinking show. Perhaps a reworking of the setlist will do wonders for the second and third legs of the world tour that travels endlessly into ’08, but at Churchill Downs, The Police left many in the crowd bewildered and shaking their heads wondering, "Why did they even bother?"