The Police: a concert made in heaven

by Lee Hopkins on January 30, 2008 · 6 comments

in miscellaneous

 The Police - Adelaide 2008

Okay, so I’m fresh back from the final Police concert in Adelaide and WOW!

“I am stoked” as we ‘once were surfer dudes’ would say; meaning that I am more than quite content with what I have experienced.

I took Boy Genius along — it was his first live concert. For homework before the concert he has been listening to my entire Police recorded works collection.

He is just as stoked as me, albeit without the three decades of history of following the band and its after effects, nor the initial rush of discovering a band that just resonated through the whole of one’s body, even down to the very grotty bits of one’s toenails.

Someone near me brought along a digital recorder with a brand new, eBay purchased, 1Gb card in it in order to record the whole concert for their later personal bliss.

Unfortunately, the Angel of Copyright was obviously leaning on their shoulder, as the entire file (allegedly some huge amount) was corrupted and absolutely nothing can be replayed. Bummer. I bet that person won’t be buying sd cards from eBay again, especially as they were telling me that it was the third sd card they’d bought off eBay and all three were useless. Silly bugger — I bet next time he’ll take a backup system using completely different technology (like, say, a MiniDisc).

But back to the concert itself…

Absolutely mind-numbingly superb!

Mind you, I say that as a died-in-the-wool Police fan; as I tweeted as the concert began, they are the only band I would actually pay cold hard cash to see these days, even though the band of my early-middle teens was Status Quo – they went ‘soft’ and completely crap when they sacked Alan Lancaster.

But Status Quo aside, every song The Police played was a belter — even though they had played around with the keys and timing sometimes. Many of their songs got a bit of a work-over, but this was to no ill effect and still allowed us reticent Adelaidians (I reckon we are the quietest audience in the world) a chance to sing along, even if sotto voce. Some of their re-workings ‘worked’, some were a bit strange, but NOTHING was less than superb. Truly.

Can I name a stand-out song? No.

Honestly.

All were equally great. Yes, in the spirit of ’1984′ some were more equal than others, but to try and pick just one stand-out song from a two-hour concert is not something I am prepared to do.

Oh, alright. Roxanne was a bloody bottler,

The downsides?

Well, Andy Summers is no lead guitarist. Sorry, Andy. Brilliant rhythm guitarist, but too in love with the whole Frippery vibe. [If you don’t understand Frippery, don’t worry. It’s muso-speak for disappearing up one’s rectum whilst trying to use a 6-string guitar to create sound effects like an elephant farting; based on the eclectic work of Robert Fripp, a good long-term friend of Andy and idol to many 1970s prog-rock guitar wannabe heroes.]

You can obviously track the musical development of Sting (via his recorded output) and Stewart Copeland (via his film scores), but Andy? Perhaps it was an off night. But many a time during the earlier solos I wondered if he was playing in the same key as Sting…

But that very minor niggle aside, the whole show was tight. And when I say ‘tight’, I mean tighter than Fergie’s derriere, or booty (as the Americans would say).

Fergie was okay, but not something I’d pay money for. The girl has a hot body and can use it, no doubt. But even my ‘horny as a teenage boy should be’ Boy Genius found her ‘addition’ to ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ to be just plain wrong. And this from the teenage hettie boy who has two 80Gb hard drives full of still and moving imagery of the naughty sort.

Sting’s son and his band, who opened the show, were ‘good, but not that good’, as the saying goes. Still, it’s early days for them and how many junior bands get to tour the world for bugger all cost (no doubt Dad was stumping up some of the cost in some way). Their best song was their finale, which actually smacked of some radio sensibility (decent chord changes, rhythmic, etc). There’s no doubting each band member’s individual talent; all three were keen, eager and full of testosterone. Sting’s son was on bass and was also the lead singer, and even sounded like his ol’ man from his early days with his phrasing, especially when the band broke into the occasional reggae-influenced stuff, but I certainly feel for the bloke — he will always be compared to his phenomenally-talented songwriter of a dad.

But the main act were every bit as tight, polished and flamin’ brilliant as I remember them from their final tour all those years ago. My only regret? That they didn’t perform ‘No Time This Time’, but that’s simply because I wanted to see if the world’s greatest drummer of that era could still pull his insane timing off. Based on the evidence before me tonight, I have no doubt he could.

When the dvd of the reunion tour gets released I will certainly be in the front of the queue to nab a copy, whereafter I will probably replay it endlessly as I do all of my Police collection. I just cannot get enough of the bastards — I will probably end my days buying paraphernalia on eBay about them; interviews, out-takes, bootlegs…

Yes, I am sad. But for me Sting was and still is the singer-songwriter that I always dreamed I could emulate; ‘The Police’ the band I always wanted to copy but never had the musicianship to even attempt it. I can always pick up a Telecaster and try my hand at Status Quo rhythm riffs, but The Police were always a musicianship level or three above the rest.

So tonight taking Boy Genius along to see the band that has so emphatically shaped my creative muse was a special treat. That he also had a great time and stood shouting and clapping at each and every encore moment was a heart-melting outcome.

God only grants us a few epiphanies in our lifetime — tonight, as it was 20-odd years ago at Memorial Drive on the final tour, was one of them.  If Thomas Dolby ever tours, that will be another and my creative life will be just about complete.

I close with this lovely comment from a reviewer of The Police’s Sydney gig:

Copeland, who plays syncopated beats with a ferocity that is still a marvel to behold, stares at his two bandmates as if he can’t quite believe he is sharing a stage with them again.

Message in a Bottle was an instant reminder of how great this band was in the years before Sting started dreaming of blue turtles and hiring jazz musicians by the dozen.

They came, they saw, they played Don’t Stand So Close To Me and Every Breath You Take.

Oh, happy day.

Oh happy day indeed.

Sorry for the blur... The Police - Adelaide 2008

I can now die happy.

  • http://trafcom.typepad.com/ Donna Papacosta

    Nice report, Lee. I am kicking myself that I didn’t see the Police when they were in Canada last year.

  • http://trafcom.typepad.com Donna Papacosta

    Nice report, Lee. I am kicking myself that I didn’t see the Police when they were in Canada last year.

  • http://www.sebastiankeil.de Sebastian Keil

    Lee, thanks for this report. I chose not to see them in Hamburg, Germany, because this money-making scheme was just a tad to much for my purse. I’ll pay a fifth of ticket prices and watch the DVD. (which will not be the same, but affordable)
    On Summers, I totally agree. I watched the press conference announcing the tour and during the songs they played there Summers sounded, well, rusty at best. It sounded like rehearsal, like he hadn’t touched his instrument in months (like me basically).

    Finally, Lee, you don’t have to die yet!

  • http://www.planetsab.de Sebastian

    Lee, thanks for this report. I chose not to see them in Hamburg, Germany, because this money-making scheme was just a tad to much for my purse. I’ll pay a fifth of ticket prices and watch the DVD. (which will not be the same, but affordable)
    On Summers, I totally agree. I watched the press conference announcing the tour and during the songs they played there Summers sounded, well, rusty at best. It sounded like rehearsal, like he hadn’t touched his instrument in months (like me basically).

    Finally, Lee, you don’t have to die yet!

  • http://www.olioradio.net/ Clarence Jones

    Beautiful post Lee. Writers write reviews, but Fans write stories. What a lovely story.
    As an on-and-off Crimso follower, I must comment on the “Frippery” remark. While the reproduction of standard guitar sounds is ok for 99.96247% of music, how ELSE can you create aural elephant farts without Frippery?
    …unless you cut out the foot pedals & keyboards, & hire Jeff Beck…
    Love & Peace, Clarence
    btw: now I’ve got Stewart Copeland & Bill Bruford on my mind…enjoyable…

  • http://www.olioradio.net Clarence Jones

    Beautiful post Lee. Writers write reviews, but Fans write stories. What a lovely story.
    As an on-and-off Crimso follower, I must comment on the “Frippery” remark. While the reproduction of standard guitar sounds is ok for 99.96247% of music, how ELSE can you create aural elephant farts without Frippery?
    …unless you cut out the foot pedals & keyboards, & hire Jeff Beck…
    Love & Peace, Clarence
    btw: now I’ve got Stewart Copeland & Bill Bruford on my mind…enjoyable…

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