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Associated Press
The Police say they plan to retire after playing their final show in New York City on Aug. 7.

When the Police wrap up their massive reunion tour, which started in 2007 and has taken the legendary trio around the world, it is expected to rank among the top three highest-grossing tours of all time.

By all accounts, the tour has been a huge success. So, what is Police drummer and group founder Stewart Copeland looking forward to after the group plays their final show next month? The answer is not recording a new Police album or waiting for the next Police tour. It's passing out pink slips.

"With great joy I'll say, 'Andy, Sting, you're fired. And so am I,"' Copeland said. "Tell everyone to go home and get a life, find something else to do."

Once Copeland, Andy Summers and Sting play their final show in New York City on Aug. 7, the band will go into retirement again. And this time, Copeland said it's for good.

"This band is not just about the three of us anymore. We belong to it. It's this huge monster that generates enormous wealth for others. It's not our band anymore. The three of us come together to provide this cash cow. It's a commodity. It's a brand name. It's bigger than us. We can't control it anymore. The only way to own ourselves is to slay this dragon," he said.

But don't think that Copeland is counting the seconds until the tour is over. On the contrary, his whole life is consumed by the band right now, and he couldn't be happier.

When the Deseret News talked to Copeland by phone a couple of weeks ago, he was at a hotel in Valencia, Spain, after the Police had just played their farewell concert in London's Hyde Park before 40,000 fans.

"We burned the city down. If you're planning on going on holiday in London, make other plans," Copeland said. "We really felt like it was a homecoming show."

Now that the end is in sight, Copeland said all the pressure the band had been feeling the past year was off. He predicted the final leg of its tour, including Utah, would be "outrageous."

"This whole last leg has been the party tour. The 'School's Out for Summer Tour,"' he said. "The thinking has all been done. The thinking and the talking are all done. It's just playing now. Sound checks are just jam sessions. The business of the day is there is no business of the day. Let's go burn the city down. We enjoy, we found, that thing that put us here in the first place, which kind of eluded us the first half of the tour. The first half was good, but now we feel this is what got us here. Now we're terrifying our colleagues and other musicians."

But while Copeland and his bandmates are looking toward the end, for Salt Lake fans it's a very long-awaited return.

The Police are widely considered one of the music world's most influential bands. Rolling Stone ranked them No. 70 in its list of the top 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

From 1978 to 1981 the trio put out an album a year, each going platinum. Classics such as "Outlandous d'Amour," "Reggatta de Blanc," "Zenyatta Mondatta" and "Ghost in the Machine" were released during this time.

Then the band hit the pinnacle of its commercial success with the 1983 release of "Synchronicity." But by the end of the Synchronicity tour, the band had had enough. In 1984, at the height of its success, the Police called it quits. With the exception of a couple of one-off reunions, including Sting's wedding and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a full-time reunion seemed unlikely. That changed, however, in 2007 when Sting, who had garnered great success as a solo artist, agreed to rejoin his former bandmates.

For Utah fans, the wait to see the Police has been long. The last time the trio played in Salt Lake City was at the old Salt Palace on Aug. 26, 1982, according to United Concerts. In other words, the last time the Police played in Utah, gas was just $1.29 per gallon, the No. 1 song in the nation was "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John, the Commodore 64 was the latest in computer technology, "ET" was big at the box office and Michael Jackson was just getting ready to release a little album called "Thriller."

Utah fans had the closest thing to a reunion after the breakup when Copeland made a surprise guest appearance during one of Sting's first solo tours at the old Park West amphitheater. And during Sting's solo tour in 2005 at the Delta Center, he played a heavy selection of old Police classics, giving fans a small taste of what they had been craving for so many years.

Although its been many years since the Police have played in Utah, Copeland said he still remembers those days well.

"Salt Lake City was always the wildest party of the tour. That is a fact," he said.

But now, as the band marks the 30th anniversary of formation by saying farewell in August, Copeland again emphasizes that this is truly the end.

"The only way to approach it is with absolute finality. If we leave a chink in the armor, to be honest, they won't go home. They won't get jobs. As far as we're concerned, it's over. It will be over in August. Until that day, we're throwing everything into it," he said.

If you go

What: The Police, Elvis Costello & the Imposters

Where: USANA Amphitheatre, 6200 West and 5400 South

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $46-$206

Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com

E-mail: [email protected]