Stewart Copeland wrapped up Police Department performances this spring with three nights in Nashville at The Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
The audience lit up in animated applause as Stewart walked on stage. Pure anticipation of what was about to unfold. And that energy, both in the audience and on the stage, never let up. His very presence brings this excitement to the house
Stage Left Copeland’s Tama drum kit faced perpendicular to the orchestra and audience where conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez and directly at Stewart’s 12 O’clock. Vocalists Amy Keys, Carmel Helene and Ashley Támar were steps beyond the conductor’s podium. Guitarist Rusty Anderson and bassist Armand Sabal Lecco were perched immediately in
front of him. And flanked by The Mighty Mighty Nashville Orchestra, Stewart leaving with a commanding view of the whole stage. This gave the audience a perfect profile view to witness Stewart’s brilliant playing. Add in the concert hall’s impeccable acoustics and majestic lighting, the night was a sensory immersion.
The music opened with driving bassline of “Demolition Man” from the 1981 release Ghosts In The Machine, throttling up the music from the very start. After “King of Pain,” Stewart introduced “Murder by Numbers,” explaining Sting and Andy’s love for jazz and recording that song in a single take as he was completely isolated from the other two. The stories and musics continued for the rest of the night.
Near the end of the first set, Stewart stepped away from his drums while asking the audience, “What do you call a drummer with one stick? A conductor!” as he took the conductor’s podium to lead the orchestra through a non-Police song from his early soundtrack days, “The Equalizer Busy Equalizing,” the theme song to the 80’s TV show. He promised to stay out of the way of the orchestra implying to not impede upon these great musicians as he humbly conducted. This included the solo spotlights with orchestra members Sam Levine (alto sax) Jeff Coffin (tenor sax) Steve Patrick (trumpet) Jimmy Bowland (soprano sax).
What are Police Derangements? Well…. It is his way to arrange songs through a certain deconstruction and exploration of the original recording sessions resulting in a concert set of The Police’s finest songs: hits, his favorites, and familiar deep cuts. Arranged for Copeland’s 2006 Everyone Stares The Police Inside Out DVD, they never made it to a soundtrack release thus making these live performances the only chance for fans to hear these solutions outside of watching the DVD.
Keys, Helene and Támar bring incredible vocal range, interpretation, harmony and emotion to each song going with slight melodic differences from Spring’s familiar recorded vocal tracks. It was adventurous such that the anticipation lingered for every song. “Walking on the Moon”
gave way to a highlight of the performance…bassist Armand Sabal Lecco and Copeland jamming full tilt going where few can go together.
Second set: For the reggae-inspired hit “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” Stewart again left the riser to fellow drummer (and director of Dare to Drum – another Stewart Copeland collaboration) John Bryant, but this time to play a Fender Stratocaster. First marveling at the pure abandon of punching out a few power chords with the symphony, he went on to play the song with rockstar attack.
Near the end came time for guitarist Rusty Anderson (Paul McCartney Band and Stewart’s former Animal Logic bandmate) to modestly peered out from behind his music stand demonstrating his searing guitar work.
Thursday night Gizmodrome bandmate Adrian Belew was attending, musing that he was able to actually watch Stewart playing. Something he can’t do when on stage together. Gin Blossoms drummer Scott Hessel was also in attendance and noted that “the show has evolved since last year; the band is getting an opportunity to really explore the songs now, something the Police did nightly.”
Overall it was more than a concert, but an event to cherish.
Images: © Phil Solomonson / Philamonjaro Studio
King of Pain
Murder by Numbers
One World (Not Three)
Spirits in the Material World
TheEqualizer Busy Equalizing
Walking on the Moon
Walking in Your Footsteps
The Bed’s Too Big Without You
Don’t Stand So Close to Me
Message in a Bottle
Can’t Stand Losing
Reggatta de Blanc
Encore: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Special thanks to Jonothan Marx and The Nashville Symphony Orchestra staff.
Keep a look out for May 20th, Mercury Studios’ release The Police: Around The World Restored and Expanded on DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, and DVD+LP.
In a completely different direction, check out Copeland’s GRAMMY-nominated collaboration with Ricky Kij, the ambient soundscape recording Divine Tides.