The Screening Room

This is not so much of a review of the new DVD/Blu-ray disc. It's more of an appreciation for witnessing a favorite band bury hatchets and give Police fans a present to last a lifetime.

"The Police: Certifiable - Live in Buenos Aires" concert video and 2 CD set is now available on DVD and Blu-ray disc. This is a review of the Blu-ray. A three disc LP album of the band's concert is also available. All are exclusively at Best Buy or online at www.thepolicetour.com.

Let me say that the disc is simply awesome and maintains the terrific showmanship the band has. The excellent picture and sound captures the band's performance well, and you don't have to pay $300 bucks to get a seat! More on "Certifiable" in a bit.

The Police is the only band I ever followed religiously, even after their parting of ways in 1980s. It always seemed premature that the band would drop everything they built over a short time. For fans, it was a shocker that Sting, Stewart & Andy wouldn't be playing anymore great music together. This was one hell of a great band. It didn't seem fair that they'd leave their fans holding their copies of "Synchronicity" and asking, "What? No more albums? No more tours? That's it?"

What a complete and utter surprise when I heard that they were getting back together. I was driving home from Santa Barbara when local KLOS DJ, Rita Wilde, announced this on her "Rock Report" segment. Nearly jumping for joy within the confines of my truck, I had to keep focus on safe driving!

The band has since toured for an 18-month, 'round-the-world bash that had fans like myself grinning. You can bet that I bought a ticket to their concert as soon as it was available for Dodger Stadium. As outrageously priced as it was, it was worth every hundred dollar bill to see the boys in concert. My seat, though about 30 rows back, gave me a very good view of the band and giant screens. You could almost sense tears of joy from the people around me, even those who tried to switch seats with me. "Nope, I've waited almost 16 years to see these guys live," I told them.

Seeing them play was like seeing old time friends again. You forgot about the squabbles, the petty arguments, the occasional bitterness of when your friendship broke up. In a weird way, when a person identifies and follows a band, they become your confidant and your bouncing board for your frustrations and happiness. For my mom, it was the music of Motown that moved her. For other people of her generation, it was The Beatles or the Rolling Stones. For me, it was the Police. And here they were, live and in-person.

Sting was at the top of his game. Stewart bashed those skins with all the piss & vinegar he's always had when playing. Andy was cool and calm, yet laid down guitar licks like nobody else could. The show was flawless. I was taken back to the days of listening to the brilliance of "Synchronicity," the only album I'd listen to on a regular basis. It was a dream unfolding in front of my eyes, and the eyes of nearly 50,000 other fans that night. 

Seeing the band reunited and playing live made up for the time when I traveled to New York City to see them inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Crowded inside a hot room at the Waldorf Astoria with other journalists, I watched the band play a short set via a TV monitor. It was electrifying. They were going to come backstage and talk with the press, I had hoped. When the band received their awards, Sting stood in the background, aloof. Stewart and Andy were clearly happy to be inducted. Sting, I don't know.

Waiting in the press room, many of us were eager to see the Police and ask them questions. They never arrived. I was a little disappointed, to say the least. Not only didn't I have some good quotes from the band, but I didn't get to see them live and in-person. I boycotted the band by not playing their music for some time. Like a pouting child, I wasn't mad at Stewart and Andy. They seemed content on playing with Sting. I was mad at Sting. He held the trump card, and always seemed like he did.

Sting continued putting out solo albums, each one becoming more diluted and serious. Stewart and Andy went on their separate paths once again. Deep down in my adult and mature soul, I had hoped that the band would eventually play again. I eventually dug out my Police SACDs and listened to them.

The 2007 tour surprised everybody, especially Sting's former band mates. I don't think the band realized how much fans really loved their music and musicianship. Fans formed a relationship with the band, even if it was from listening to their music on a turntable or the radio. Sting's songs resonated with me, that's for sure. His lyrics were smart and often haunting. On earlier albums, the band could strike a balance with serious songs like "Message in a Bottle," to goofy songs like "On Any Other Day."

After the band went their separate ways (they never officially broke up), I enjoyed Sting's music. He was the songwriter of the band for the most part and I identified with his sound. I can remember people saying that songs like "Fortress Around Your Heart" and "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" were the "most Police-like." Sort of. Yet there always seemed to be something missing with Sting's albums. His new band mates were fine musicians. But to me, Sting always belonged with Stewart and Andy. He played his best with those blokes.

So we've had the gigantic reunion tour. Would the boys put out a new album or video of their tour? Certainly, and it's "Certifiable." Even if you're not a Police fan, you might appreciate the energy of the band. For a Police fan, this is incredible footage of the tour stop in Buenos Aires.

One of the first things I noticed, even when I saw them live, is how much Sting seems to be having a good time. Sting actually lightens up. He's not at all the brooding and egotistical lad we've seen over the years. A good example of his ego is on display in his 1985 film, "Bring On The Night." Yet in this 2007 concert he seems to enjoy the moment. For the first time in years, he's letting his band mates share the stage.

Sting has always been a powerful and charismatic performer. From his MTV videos with the Police, to his sold-out shows, he impresses the masses with dynamic vocals and excellent song writing. It's all on display here in "Certifiable."

Stewart, always the extrovert of the band, continues his massively addictive drumming here. It's fun to watch Copeland play the drums with such power and emotion. Granted, his band mates probably tell him he plays too fast sometimes, but man, the guy can play. His backbeat is the foundation of the band and his style is unique. I can always tell when Copeland is playing drums in other bands he's had like Animal Logic.

Andy is the quiet one stage, but you wouldn't know it by his playing. He gets plenty of screen time in "Certifiable" and I enjoyed every minute of his playing. Though he's calm, he plays the guitar with such vigor you cannot help but get into the music.

The entire concert plays at a fast clip. I've found myself going back to the Blu-ray to watch it again. I haven't done that in a long time for any movie or concert DVD. Just like the live show I saw, I didn't want it to end.

"Better Than Therapy," a documentary by Jordan Copeland, is an added bonus on the Blu-ray. It's very good and lets us into the band's reunion. There are some sparks, and perhaps we're not seeing the really heavy flames. But the film shows how mature and loving these band mates are today. Each member makes it a point to say that they're great friends off-stage. Once they're on and playing, the field of play changes. After years of rumors and stories about the demise of The Police, it's nice to see the boys playing nice.

My only two gripes about the film are minor. I thought the movie could've been feature-length, but at about 50-minutes, I'll take what I can get. And I was horrified during Live Earth last year when Kanye West joined the band on-stage for a song. He's featured here backstage rehearsing with the guys. John Mayer also joined in. I'm no John Mayer fan, but I'm sorry, between the two, Mayer has the talent. Once West starts rapping with The Police, you can feel the energy flow quickly out of the room. His rap didn't match the rhythm that the band put down. It was out of place. I realize West has a lot of fans and I can appreciate that, but he's not my cup of tea. 

The entire Blu-ray and CD package is spectacular. The picture and sound quality on the Blu-ray is awesome, though I found that the recording of Sting's vocals sound a bit distorted on both the Blu-ray and CD. My sound system is in working order. The picture quality is incredibly sharp with plenty of depth to the image.

I always prefer a PCM track on Blu-ray and I think it would've benefited this disc. There is a difference in quality between Dolby TrueHD, PCM and the CD. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack here is outstanding, but I found the CD to have better clarity and depth with better bass and sound staging. I was tempted to buy the LP, but my current turntable isn't up to the best standards.

"The Police Certifiable" is a great gift to fans of the band who waited so long for this moment. The band has said that they don't intend to record another album, and that fans identify with the classic tunes. I beg to differ. You guys don't have to be in the same room. Technology today allows for you to record in anyplace around the world. I'm sure that's wishful thinking on my part. If this is indeed our last goodbye, mates, I gotta tell you it was an awesome ride for 18-months.

Bill Kallay

Photos: Cover 2008 Cherrytree/A&M Records. All rights reserved.

Montage photos by Danny Clinch

BLU-RAY Quick Glimpse



I never thought I'd live to see the day...

Director: Jim Gable (concert), Jordan Copeland ("Better Than Therapy")  

Cast: Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers  

Selected different angle option, fantastic but too short documentary, "Better Than Therapy"

Not rated (some naughty words and sights of hot Argentinean girls in the audience)

Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

The classic Police songs take on a new look and feel fresh

Aspect Ratio (1.78:1)

Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Dolby TrueHD 2.0

November 11, 2008
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