The Police announce reunion tour

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An old recording was played before the Police took the stage Monday at the Whisky a Go-Go in West Hollywood to announce their world tour. An interviewer on the tape asked whether Sting could conceive of an instance when the hugely popular trio would reunite. The singer replied that if that ever happened, he would be found "certifiably insane."

Well, call out the whitecoats because singer-bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland have reunited after two decades for a global jaunt that begins May 28 in Vancouver. The first 14 dates -- including two at Madison Square Garden in New York and a headlining show at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival outside Nashville -- were confirmed during the event, which doubled as a rehearsal, with the band playing a handful of Police tunes.

"Andy, do you know 'Message in a Bottle'?" Sting asked. The band then played that 1979 song along with "Can't Stand Losing You," "Roxanne" and a medley of "Voices Inside My Head" and "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around."

Arthur Fogel, chairman of global music at Live Nation, announced details of the ambitious tour, which he said will move from North America to Europe, back to the U.S. and then to South America, Japan and Australia/New Zealand. The announced dates are in arenas, except for Bonnaroo and a late July stop at Fenway Park in Boston. More North American shows, including Southern California, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fogel said tickets will average about $100, generally going for $225, $90 and $50. Best Buy is the corporate sponsor, and the band will donate portions of the proceeds to Water Aid, an international charity devoted to providing safe water and effective sanitation for the world's poor.

"We're gonna play songs we've never played before," Sting said. "It's gonna be three guys onstage, that's all." He added that the set lists will be all Police songs and was noncommittal about any new material. The support act in North America will be Fiction Plane, which features Sting's son Joe Sumner.

There was no sign Monday of the much-discussed old tensions among the bandmates. Indeed, there was plenty of good humor among Sting, a beaming Copeland and an often deadpan Summers.

The event was marked by smiles onstage and throughout the tiny club as the veteran band bantered with one another, sometimes almost vaudeville-style. "I'd just like to introduce the band," Sting said at one point. "Andy, this is Stewart." To which the guitarist replied, "I remember you." Later, when the band was answering a question about their storied battles, Sting said, "We're still fighting -- about the music." Summers fired back, "No we're not!"

Copeland, who jokingly referred to Sting at one point as "our dear leader," mused about the earliness -- relative to Hollywood -- of the 11 a.m. event, which followed the band's performance Sunday night at the Grammys, asking, "Shouldn't we all be hung over?"

The band broke up at the height of its popularity in the mid-'80s, coming off the phenomenal worldwide success of their fifth album, "Synchronicity." A midevent Q&A session provided some insight into the reunion, including queries about the motivation for reuniting and the famous intraband battles. "We never saw the other side of the parabola," Copeland said. "We saw the upside, but we're kinda curious about the downside."

Asked if the band had more of an appreciation for their music and popularity after two decades apart, Sting replied, "There's no reason we shouldn't be 25 years better than we were then -- and we were good then." Added Copeland: "When we were young, we had to conquer the world. I don't have to make my name in the world now."

Of the infamous tensions among the band members, Sting said: "The arguments were all about music. We fought because we cared about the music." Copeland agreed. "We fought tooth and nail about the music," he said, "but as human beings, we love each other."

When the band played, there was some forgivable difficulty remembering keys and words -- Sting admitted to reading the lyrics to "Can't Stand Losing You" -- and plenty of verbal communication among members onstage. But the music, complete with those soccer-stadium chants and quick-time island riddims, was solid enough, though Sting admitted the Police "has a lot of work to do" before the tour starts. Summers, playing a well-worn guitar, supplied his alternately wandering and choppy riffs, while Copeland added his trademark disco-reggae high hat and Sting belted out the oldies.

The 45-minute press conference/concert was webcast live.
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