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NEW YORK — The reunited Police took a final bow Thursday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden, capping a 151-show tour that will finish as the third highest-grossing of all time with $358,825,665 at the boxoffice, according to Billboard Boxscore.
Tickets could only be obtained via donation to local public television stations Thirteen/WNET and WLIW21.
Bassist-vocalist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland began the proceedings with a surprise cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Afterward, the New York Police Department band augmented normal set-opener “Message in a Bottle.”
There was only an intermittent amount of sentimentality to the show, with Sting at one point telling the crowd, “It’s been a huge honor to get back with my good friends. The real triumph of this tour is that we haven’t strangled each other — that doesn’t mean it hadn’t crossed my mind.”
But for the men onstage, it was clearly special. Sting’s daughters danced with him onstage during “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” and a grinning Sting got so close to Summers as to whisper in his ear while eating up his solo on “So Lonely.”
Another twist was saved for the encore, which began with a dexterous run through Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” Just prior, the video screens revealed that the heavily bearded Sting was being shaved backstage, while simultaneously getting a manicure, pedicure and massage.
The final song was the breakneck “Next to You,” one last reminder of the English band’s punk-era roots. At its conclusion, Sting, Summers and Copeland bowed, hugged and jogged off the stage with smiles on their faces, while the proverbial fat lady sang and the Looney Tunes theme “That’s All Folks” played through the speakers.
The Police’s tour — the band’s first performances since 1986 — began May 28, 2007, in Vancouver and moved 3,300,912 tickets from 146 shows, plus five festival plays, according to tour producer Live Nation.
The final gross puts it only behind the Rolling Stones’ 2005-07 A Bigger Bang tour ($558 million), and U2’s 2005-07 Vertigo tour ($389 million), and ahead of the Stones’ 1994-95 Voodoo Lounge tour ($320 million), according to Boxscore.
The tour, which received top honors at the Billboard Touring Conference & Awards last November, was produced by Live Nation Global Touring chairman Arthur Fogel, and Bill Zysblat, partner at RZO Productions. It will be chronicled on the live CD/DVD “The Police: Certifiable,” due Oct. 7 exclusively through Best Buy.
“Clearly, they’re one of the biggest bands of all time and this tour has just proven how strong an act they are around the world,” Fogel said. “I think they truly enjoyed confirming the legacy of the music and the band.”
Billboard’s Ray Waddell in Nashville contributed to this report.
Here is the set list for the Police’s final show:
“Sunshine of Your Love”
“Message in a Bottle”
“Walking on the Moon”
“Voices Inside My Head”/”When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around”
“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”
“Can’t Stand Losing You”/”Reggatta de Blanc”
“King of Pain”
“Every Breath You Take”
“Next to You”
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