New York gig marks end of the road for The Police

NEW YORK Fri Aug 8, 2008 3:14am EDT

1 of 8. Sting performs with his band The Police during their farewell concert at Madison Square Garden in New York August 7, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British rock trio The Police played their final concert together on Thursday and were joined by the real police -- the New York City police band.

Singer and bassist Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers reunited for a world tour last May and have since played 150 concerts for 3.7 million people, Sting told the crowd between songs at Madison Square Garden.

"The real triumph of this tour is that we haven't strangled each other," he said, adding: "That's not to say it hasn't crossed my mind, or Stewart's, or Andy's."

There were touches of the surreal in the final gig by the band that made its name in the late 1970s and 1980s with such hits as "Walking on the Moon" and "Every Breath You Take."

Sting took an unusual break after the main set and before the first encore -- lying back in a barber's chair backstage as two blond women shaved the salt-and-pepper beard that he had been sporting, the most obvious sign of the passing years.

The beard had come in for some harsh criticism from fashion mavens in recent days, though the former teacher was quoted by media this week as saying, "The ladies love it."

His make-over was beamed to a giant screen above the stage as fans cheered and chanted for more music. He bounced back on stage fresh-faced and looking as lithe as ever without his shirt to deliver crowd-pleasers "Roxanne" and "So Lonely."

The band opened with the Cream song "Sunshine of Your Love" and were then joined by around 20 drummers and musicians of the police band for "Message in a Bottle."

They may be more used to playing in a marching band, but the burly uniformed police officers sang along and banged their drums with gusto as Sting strutted his stuff in a police cap.

Later in the set, three young women who looked like fans popped up on stage, joking around, dancing and taking snapshots as the band played "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."

"These are my daughters," Sting explained.

The band played all of its big hits, as well as a few cover songs, ending the encore with "Every Breath You Take." The band came back for a brief second encore before finally calling it a day with the song "Next to You."

The concert marked the end of a tour that has grossed more than $350 million and was the biggest selling tour of 2007.

The Police fused punk with reggae grooves and intricate arrangements to gain global popularity before splitting in 1984. Sting went on to a hugely successful solo career, while Copeland and Summers have also stayed in the business, recording and scoring music for the movie industry.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

FILED UNDER: