More than 30 years after Sting, Andy Summer and Stewart Copeland created a force to rival the lads from Templemore, they are back for the first time in more than two decades to provide a reassuring presence to the ageing rock devotee.
Under floodlight and an impressive light show, GAA headquarters took on an even more magical appearance as the 82,000-strong crowd enjoyed the unusually balmy October weather that suggested the Police had indeed arranged some invisible sun to be placed in the sky.
The vast majority of the audience in the stands didn’t get to enjoy the full benefit of their €126.50 seats as they were on their feet right from the opening number, Message in a Bottle, followed by the much unheralded hit, Synchronicity II. Many regretted not being among the thousands of fans in the middle of the pitch to be able to dance without restriction to the band’s luscious, reggae-influenced tracks.
“Thank you for that warm welcome,” beamed Sting, quickly doing the mental arithmetic to calculate that there should be 164,000 hands in the air.
Most of the limbs overwhelmingly belonged to middle-aged bodies that had probably carried vinyl copies of Zenyatta Mondatta as a teenage fashion accessory back in the early 80s.
However, it was clear that it was the first occasion for most to see Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland on stage as more than a quarter of a century has passed since their last Irish appearance at Leixlip Castle in 1980.
What the GAA founding fathers would make of an English band taking over the Hill 16 end of a ground that was hosting more people with a police record than at your usual big fight night at the Point is probably best left for another day.
Sting kept the on-stage patter to a minimum to let the music do the talking and showing that his voice was as strong as ever, even on tonsil-tearing tracks like Roxanne and I Can’t Stand Losing.
However, the ex-teacher laughingly explained that Don’t Stand So Close to Me was “not autobiographical” while he also reminded the crowd that Every Little Thing was conceived in deepest Connemara during the time he kept a holiday home near Clifden, Co Galway.
After 90 minutes on stage, the Police were in top gear as they concluded their set with high-energy versions of King of Pain, So Lonely and the obligatory, Every Breath You Take.
Rubbishing reports that the trio liked to be tucked up in their beds by 10pm, they reappeared for an encore of Next to You with Andy Summers clearly enjoying himself so much that he seemed reluctant to leave the stage.
We had been cautioned that the start of the Police’s world tour was marked by reviews which practically branded the group as criminal but such cares were easily put aside as here was a band who had rediscovered the magic that set them apart all those years ago and now clearly operating a different beat than when they first reformed.
The only minor quibble was the exorbitant cost of the band’s merchandise (although the Police are not the only guilty party among big rock acts) with one of the group’s T-shirts retailing at €30.
It is one of the more open and shut cases of members of the police being guilty of daylight robbery. De-do-do-don’t!