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Live Review: The Police and Elvis Costello & the Imposters at Red Rocks

Love at first Sting.
Love at first Sting.

The Police and Elvis Costello & the Imposters Monday, July 22, 2008 Red Rocks Amphiteatre Better than: Any show I’ve seen in a long time.

Nearly three decades after the Police’s first Denver gig at the Rainbow Music Hall, the band finally made it up to Red Rocks for the first time. After kicking off the set with “Message in a Bottle,” then taking it down a notch with “Walking on the Moon” and pumping it back up on “Demolition Man,” it was obvious it was going to be worth the wait.

Sting's teaching days are behind him.
Sting's teaching days are behind him.
Photo: Jon Solomon

Seeing Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland in the Pepsi Center last year might have a remarkable experience for some, but seeing the guys at Red Rocks proved to be entirely different thing all together. Sometimes the venue makes all the difference. In this case, nothing like a little Red Rocks magic to add to an already stellar show.

The guys were all in top form, running through a set that mainly consisted of hits, but also included a few less recognized cuts like “Hole in My Life” and “Voices in My Head,” which morphed into “When the World is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around.”

Bang a gong, get it on.
Bang a gong, get it on.
Photo: Jon Solomon

About halfway through the act's set, Sting talked about how he used to be schoolteacher in a convent, and how he had a house and a mortgage, and then asked the audience, “What the fuck happened?” Well, somewhere along the line the guy got insanely famous and the royalties from song he played after posing that question, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (about a girl having a crush on her teacher, incidentally), might have helped pay a few bills.

The sounds of Summers.
The sounds of Summers.
Photo: Jon Solomon

A few songs later, Copeland got up from his massive drum kit, banged a gong, then played some small cymbals hanging from strings before Sting and Summers joined in on “Wrapped Around My Finger.” During the chorus, Copeland beat a pair of kettle drums.

This Elvis leads a group of Imposters.
This Elvis leads a group of Imposters.
Photo: Jon Solomon

After closing the main set with “Can’t Stand Losing You,” it was hard to imagine the show getting any better, but the trio came back for a four-song encore, which ended with “Every Breath You Take.” The lights went down onstage and Summers came out alone, banged out a few chords before Sting and Copeland joined him for a rousing version of “Next to You.” Now that’s a hell of way to end a show.

This Elvis leads a group of Imposters.
This Elvis leads a group of Imposters.

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, who opened the show, ran through a great set made up songs from his latest album, Momofuku and hits like “Pump it Up,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” “(I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea” and “Watching the Detectives.” Sting joined Costello for an awesome version of “Alison,” a few songs before closing his set with “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.”

--Jon Solomon

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: The Police and Elvis Costello all in one night. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Random Detail: Andy Summers’ South Park guitar strap said, “Oh my God, they killed Kenny.” By the Way: They’ll be back at Red Rocks for another show tonight.

The Police Set List:

Message in a Bottle Walking on the Moon
 Demolition Man
 Voices in My Head When the World Is Running Down Don’t Stand So Close to Me
 Driven to Tears
 Hole in My Life
 Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
 Wrapped Around Your Finger
 De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
 Invisible Sun
 Can’t Stand Losing You

Encore

Roxanne
 King of Pain
 So Lonely
 Every Breath You Take Next to You


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