The Police's mid-afternoon sound check at Fenway park was marred by an hour-and-a-half delay and near-biblical rainstorms, but as the trio took the stage at around 4:30, the inclimate weather afforded the small audience the opportunity to find out that Sting knows most of the first verse to "Singin' in the Rain."

After the crowd was hustled up to the stage, Sting greeted the crowd and said, simply, "We're gonna do 'Message in a Bottle'."  For anyone even passingly aware of the band's turbulent history, (chronicled conveniently by the Phoenix here) hearing Sting say such a mundane sentence had extraordinary significance.

The weather unfortunately cut the soundtrack to just one song.  The star of the brief spectacle, though, had to be Mike.  Citing the possibility of a strained voice, Sting opted not to sing lead vocals on "Message," instead picking singers from the crowd.  First he chose Mike, sporting a backwards hat and a clear enthusiasm for the matter at hand.  Second, Sting called up a girl who immediately informed Gordon and the boys that she did not know the words to the song that was to be performed.

It's been said that large-scale public announcement systems such as the one in use tonight at Fenway use autotuning to ensure tonal integrity.  Regardless of whether that's true, Mike nailed "Message in a Bottle," his voice even occupying the weird quasi-high register that Sting has made his signature.

So, Mike:  Thank you.  Your very brief stint as lead vocalist of the Police could have been something very embarrassing to witness, but your fratboyish enthusiasm proved earned.

As for the Police themselves, they were cordial and didn't seem to phone it in any more (or less) than any other reunited rock act.  They played the song with both the tightness and the weariness of a group that's been playing it for the better part of their lives.  All things considered, the trio looked, sounded, and played like a band who were the biggest band in the world almost thirty years ago.  There are much, much worse things than that.
--Joe Bernardi

Photos by Carina Mastrocola
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