Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Police - Concert Review

It finally happened. I got to see the Police last night. Despite our local paper's columnist's tepid review, it was a good show. Blessed with the luxury of perhaps seeing 100 shows a year, he can afford to be picky. I'm only lucky enough, however, to see maybe 2 shows a year. So, I have to be choosy. I loved the show. I've waited my whole life for it. (more pics from the show here)

A child of the 80's, my 2nd album ever was Synchronicity. It was a refreshing alternative to hair metal crap and bad pop of the time. Reggae beats, literate lyrics - I was hooked. Who sings about Nabokov?

I never got to see the Police the first time around. I became acquainted with them in about '83, just as they were winding down. I was too young to go to concerts then. By the time I was old enough, they had been broken up for several years. I pretty much figured my shot had passed. So ... when the news that the Police were going to reunite for a tour, I decided that I would beg, steal, even kill to get tickets. And I got pretty good lower level tickets at US Airways Center. It's not an ideal venue for acoustics, being a basketball bandbox, but it's not bad as long as you are in the lower level. We once saw Metallica and Korn there, with upper level seats. Imagine spending 3 hours inside a large metal pail with your close friends Metallica and you get some idea of the tinny, distorted cacophony that ensued.

This was much better. Sting's vocals were clean and the guitar and drums were fine. If there was any complaint acoustically, it would have been the way in which bass moves around in the arena. It had a tendency to get muddled. But that's a shortcoming of the venue, not the band.

I found myself concentrating on Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. I've seen Sting a couple of times and felt that I should enjoy the two in this probably fleeting incarnation of the Police. A lot of people thought that Sting was the Police but seeing this dynamic 3 piece in concert gives you an appreciation of how much of virtuosos each of them were. Stewart Copeland is simply amazing. I think the Police are THE definitive 3 piece band. People could make arguments for Cream, Jimi Hendrix's band, even Rush. For me, it's not even close.

I cannot think of a single song that I wanted to hear that I didn't. Being a reunion show after 24 years, they probably correctly surmised that they should hit the highlights of their career. Most of the renditions were straightforward, but several allowed them to show off the jazz chops that each have developed over the years. From regatta de blanc (white reggae) to modern jazz, their virtuosity was in evidence. My favorite performance was So Lonely with a great extended solo by Andy Summers.

The opening band was Fiction Plane. I didn't give them much thought. They sounded pretty good. I thought the lead singer kinda sounded like Sting. But I was out getting a beer and a t-shirt during most of their set. After I get home after the show, I go online to see people's reviews and pictures of the show and someone comments about Sting's son being pretty good. What the hell? So, I go to wikipedia and discover that Fiction Plane is fronted by Sting's son, Joe Sumner. Ah, I say. That would explain it.

Here's the set list:

Message in a Bottle
Synchronicity 2
Walking on the Moon
Voices Inside My Head
When the World is Running Down ...
Don't Stand So Close to Me
Driven to Tears
Bed's Too Big Without You
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Things She Does is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking in Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You
First Encore:
King of Pain
So Lonely
2nd Encore:
Every Breath You Take
Next to You

If this is the only chance that I will have to see the Police, I will be content. By all indications, a lot of the friction that caused the original break-up (The Police: A Fragile Truce) is still there. But they lasted long enough to make it to Phoenix. And they kicked ass. For that I am happy.


Laura said...

Sounds like a great show. They'll be here in a few weeks. I was never as big into the Police as my sister was. I might wander down to Wrigleyville the night of the show and see if I can't hear some from the street though... that's the one benefit to shows at Wrigley Field.

There's nothing quite like a good concert you're totally into.

shrimplate said...

Sting was a great songwriter, but without Copeland and Summers things really haven't been as good coming from him.

Copeland has fashioned himself into a very hip jazzer and Copeland has been making a very good living doing music for film and TV.

I find I like that stuff a bit more than even the better of Sting's many solo albums. But that's just me.