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The Police and Elvis Costello Begin Again in Ottawa

It will be a shame if this is indeed the final North American swing for the Police, as the reunited group showed itself to be a joyous arena rock machine that enthralled a sold out Scotiabank Place in Ottawa last night, their first visit to Canada’s capitol since 1979.

Clad in a black suit and restrained specs, opener Elvis Costello unleashed a mixture of classics and cuts from the recent Momufuku, his lively new album. “I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea” grew anthemetic with gristly bass lines and a haunting keyboard drone, while “Alison” oozed kitschy charm as Costello held a quivering high note. Along with Momofuku‘s gorgeous acoustic ballad “My Three Sons” — an ode to his own children, not the Fred MacMurray vehicle — Costello’s set defined how well-worked neurosis can be channeled into transcendent pop moments.

Even if Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers and Gordon Sumner actually hate each other’s guts, the virtuosic chemistry produced by their 21-song set was unparalleled. This is still a band on their A-game — gleaming, precise, and infectious. As Sting teased out melodies like Chet Baker, a surreal percussion showcase sent Copeland barreling between toms and an upright glockenspiel, transforming “Wrapped Around Your Finger” into a would-be Japanese Shinto ceremony. Bathed in blue light (guess what color scheme lit “Roxanne”?), final encore “Every Breath You Take” became a slinky, wraith-like warning, dissolving into applause as cell phone cameras blazed like fireflies. But even after his bandmates’ exit, Summers played on, peeling out electric shocks of guitar riffs with a naughty grin. “Andy, what the fuck are you doing? I thought we said no!” joked Sting upon re-entry, launching into the more-appropriate closer “Next To You.”


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