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Certifiable (Live From Buenos Aries)

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Album Review

Certifiable, the title of the 2008 DVD set by the Police, echoes the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over, another reunion concert sold in video and audio formats. Just as the Eagles' Don Henley once said his band would not re-form "until Hell freezes over," the Police's Sting is quoted at the outset of the video as saying that he would have to be certified insane to join a Police reunion. Yet he did, for reasons never quite spelled out. (In the 51-minute tour documentary "Better Than Therapy" included as the second DVD in the package, he says he likes to be unpredictable, after bandmate Stewart Copeland has said the reunion was a "no-brainer" for him but wondered himself why Sting was interested.) The result was a world tour, and the December 1 & 2, 2007, dates at a giant stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, provide the footage for the 19-song, 109-minute show that takes up the DVD here. (The concert is repeated on two CDs — or three LPs with a one-time digital download — also included, such that the set, initially retailing for about $20, contains more than four and a half hours of audio and video content.) That show finds the three members of the Police, after 23 years apart (not counting a couple of one-off special appearances), looking not too much the worse for wear and doing pretty much exactly what they were doing when they broke up at their popular peak in 1984. The set list consists entirely of old Police favorites, rendered in the familiar arrangements, with only a few moments of improvisation here and there. Despite the awesome setting before a gigantic crowd, with gigantic video screens behind them, the Police remain just those three men, holding the stage largely through their music. Sting appears not to change bass guitars for the entire show, sticking with a worn-looking instrument; Andy Summers doesn't seem to use more than a couple of guitars, also looking much-used; and Copeland, although he takes a couple of trips up into a percussion setup, mostly stays on his drum chair turning out the music's propulsive rhythms. This is a no-nonsense account of the musical highlights of the Police's career, and even though the scale is enormous, the show is a surprisingly no-frills affair, and all the better for that.

Biography

Formed: 1977 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '00s

Nominally, the Police were punk rock, but that's only in the loosest sense of the term. The trio's nervous, reggae-injected pop/rock was punky, but it wasn't necessarily punk. All three members were considerably more technically proficient than the average punk or new wave band. Andy Summers had a precise guitar attack that created dense, interlocking waves of sounds and effects. Stewart Copeland could play polyrhythms effortlessly. And Sting, with his high, keening voice, was capable of constructing...
Full bio
Certifiable (Live From Buenos Aries), The Police
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