1 of 9
Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Sting, lead singer for the Police, performs in Saturday night's concert at the USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City.
The Police, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, USANA Amphitheatre, Saturday July 19

More than 25 years after their last appearance in Utah, The Police made a triumphant return to the Beehive State Saturday night to say both hello again and goodbye.

Playing before 15,000 very vocal fans on a warm night at the USANA Amphitheatre, Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, who have announced they will play their final show ever next month in New York, delivered a hits-heavy set list, fulfilling the appetite of fans who have been waiting for the band to return since the early 1980s.

The band opened with a fairly straight-forward "Message in a Bottle." But they played many of their songs with arrangements different from the familiar album versions. Some of those new arrangements included extended jam sessions, which worked exceptionally well on songs like "Demolition Man," "Voices Inside My Head/When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around," "Driven to Tears" and "Can't Stand Losing You," which were some of the highlight songs of the evening.

"Are you ready to sing tonight?" the salt-and-peppered bearded and very chiseled Sting asked the audience.

Other new arrangements turned songs into sing-a-longs as the crowd echoed Sting's cries of, "Yeee-ohhh Hoe." Although Sting, who kept a bottle of throat spray and a cup of something (tea?) by his side all night, did not need any help. The bass playing lead singer's voice was outstanding throughout the evening, sounding as strong as it ever has in his long career.

Some of the new arrangements also included stripped down versions of songs that worked well on "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger," which found Copeland jumping back and forth between his blue Tama drum kit and an impressive percussion set-up that included an array of cymbals, bells and timpanis.

The band, which is playing without backup singers or extra musicians this tour, was an tight unit all night.

On some songs, however, the slower-paced, jazz-influenced arrangements, such as with "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and the middle portion of "Roxanne," while vocally and musically sound, would have worked better at a Sting solo show.

"Invisible Sun" was another highlight and the most political moment of the night. During the song, the band, which is a supporter of the anti-poverty group Unitus, showed pictures of impoverished children from around the world on the large digital screen in the rear of the stage.

The Police finished the night with "King of Pain," "So Lonely," fan favorite "Every Breath You Take" and a rockin' "Next to You."

While overall an excellent performance, the only small criticism is it wasn't long enough. While most bands play right up until the 11 p.m. curfew, The Police had people headed for the parking lot by 10:20 p.m. Their main set plus not one, but two encores took 100 minutes. For fans that have waited more than two decades, and some paying more than $200 for primo seats, it would have been nice to hear a few extra songs ("Spirits in the Material World?" "Canary in a Coal Mine?" "Bring on the Night?" "Synchronicity I or II?")

But again, a small gripe in what was overall a hugely successful return and send-off for one of rock's legendary trios.