A week ago, I never expected that last night I’d be alternately gently swaying my arms and shaking my tush to the sounds of a band (albeit a legendary one) that hadn’t released an album in 25 years. But that’s exactly what happened when my husband and I scored free tickets in blissfully good seats to see The Police at Madison Square Garden. And while hearing the familiar tunes of “Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Don’t Stand So (Close to Me)” wasn’t really a surprise, seeing two blond bombshells shave Sting’s “tour beard” backstage was.
For the most part, the show was free of the egomaniacal histrionics and pyrotechnics typically associated with aging rockers’ reunion tours, perhaps due to the band’s ability to project itself back to the late ‘70s: Sting’s voice sounded fantastic, Andy Summers truly wailed and, even at 56, drummer Stewart Copeland was practically bouncing off the walls.
But after the first set and before the encore, Sting headed backstage to shed the beard that he had presumably been growing the whole tour. There, two blondes wielded an electric shaver and a straight razor on Sting’s face and neck, as another off-camera technician buffed his nails and wrapped his feet in a warm cloth. The crowd cheered, but as Sting’s antics, which were broadcast on huge screens in the sold-out arena, dragged on longer and longer and became more outrageous, the audience went from ecstatic to just plain weirded-out.
Finally, Summers and Copeland bounded back on stage, apparently as Sting finished up his grooming regimen. When Sting joined the crowd, he was smooth-faced and bare-chested.
True, it’s likely that the over-the-top shaving scene was all part of the show, which was being filmed for PBS. But still.
Note to Sting: Yes, you have stage presence, an amazing voice and a reputation for being gifted in the boudoir. But we don’t want to watch you shave while we’re waiting for your encore – especially when Copeland is drumming right behind you, just waiting to steal the show.