While The Police played two scheduled shows at the Stade De France, the band’s former guitarist Henry Padovani expected to be somewhere among the 80,000-strong crowd.
But he ended up onstage and playing in front of it as he joined his former bandmates for "Next to You," the final encore for the first night’s performance.
"We’ve been looking forward to it all summer," he told Pollstar two days before the September 29-30 sellouts and before he had any idea he’d be part of the show.
"When I saw them rehearsing in Italy prior to the tour, we were all discussing how it might go in France, like football players talk before a big match.
"Someone said the French promoter [Jackie Lombard for Live Nation-Inter Concerts] was looking at doing some shows in The Bercy (16,000 capacity). But then, as the tour went on, it grew to the Parc des Princes (45,000) and then on to the Stade de France, and then two of them. … 80,000 people per night. Isn’t that incredible?"
It’s nearly 10 years since Padovani first visited the stadium when, along with Sting, he watched France beat Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 World Cup Final.
"It had just opened, built especially for the soccer competition, and I’m sure Sting never thought that one day he would be playing there as well," Padovani recalled.
He said he expected to be there for both days’ sound checks, shows and long after-show parties, playing down newswire reports concentrating on the fact that he’d passed up a fortune by leaving the band just before it broke through.
"I’m Corsican and we tend to take life as it comes and not complain. They’ve been very successful and I share in their enjoyment of that success," he added. "I thank heaven every day! Why would I be frustrated? Because I’m not in the rock dictionary? I couldn’t give a damn," he told one news service, although he is part of one of the questions in the quiz game Trivial Pursuit.
On May 1, as soon as the tour was announced, he put a note on his Web site telling journalists they’d be disappointed if they were expecting "a scoop of the bitter, sour, or disappointed guy."
"All my life, I have only had love, solidarity and joy for the Police success. I know they might not understand, they might be disappointed to miss a good tabloid article and of course they are sent back to the reading of that band’s history. What they should take out of it is a great story of solidarity and tenacity, an example," he wrote.
He stresses that he continues to be very good friends with all three band members. Sting and Stuart Copeland both feature on "Welcome Home," the first single taken from Padovani’s upcoming À Croire Que C’était Pour La Vie album.
John Giddings from London’s Solo Agency, which has organised the European leg of the Police tour, is confident it will do a million tickets by the time it finishes in London October 20.