Last night I saw the Police play at Wrigley Field. It was difficult at first to admit that I would want to see this show. I generally resent and ridicule reunion tours, and hold in particular disdain the casefied tastes of aging rockers reliving their youth. But after hearing Stewartâ€™s fill at the end of â€œRoxanneâ€ as the band opened the Grammy Awards, I gave in. I had to see this band play live.
A close friend scored ideal seats right in the upper deck, front row (a consolation from management for living within two blocks of the diamond). The weather was unbelievable. As Karen said, it was the kind of night where you could wear any amount of clothing and feel comfortable. Cool and clear. Sun setting just as the band took the stage.
But letâ€™s talk first about Fictionplane. Sting’s son’s band. I haven’t seen this pointed out in the reviews I’ve read, but itâ€™s positively creepy how much heâ€™s like Sting. As we’re walking into Wrigley, we wondered if they were playing some strange solo Sting music… no, it’s just that his son sounds exactly like him. We come out to our seats to see a guy that looks exactly like Sting with a wig, playing bass and fronting a three-piece band, with an overactive drummer and a noodling guitar player. Just to make sure you caught the comparison, the band also managed to work a reggae beat into at least one section of each of their tunes. It was positively creepy. Kid could sing though. Not sure about the songs (â€œThis song is about when I was in high school…â€).
So let me just say it was great to see the Police. My high school pals and I got obsessed with that band around the time their Message in a Box set came out, and even Karen and I have fond memories of early Police tunes that made up the soundtrack of our freshman year in college. So it was definitely surreal to actually watch the band play live. And the talent and energy is definitely still there. The band rocks. Stewart still plays gymnastically, planting fills unexpectedly and always barely landing them. Sting clearly has laid off a lot of the higher notes in these new arrangements, but letâ€™s be honest, thatâ€™s like saying Jordan doesn’t dunk as frequently as he used to. The guy is still unbelievably on. Andyâ€¦ well, Andy’s a sweetheart, a great guy, a creative and talented guitar playerâ€¦ And ancient! I wouldâ€™ve laughed when he tried feebly to execute the mid-air splits from the drum riser, but I was worried about him hurting himself.
The band seemed to have its off-moments. There was one song where Stewart continued to play after the rest of the band cut offâ€¦ several times the soloing and jamming seemed to go from jazzy (hey, I actually like Andy’s twelve-tone solos) to chaotic (maybe okay if you’re Ornette Coleman, possibly not when you’re playing pop hits from the 80’s for a crowd of 40-year-olds)â€¦ and through no fault of the bandâ€™s, there were weird crackles of distortion from the bass and sometimes from Stingâ€™s vocals. Perhaps the oddest thing about the show, though, is how inappropriately suited the band is for a stadium setting. While the bandâ€™s sparse arrangements are a large part of its genius, sometimes the empty space simply makes the show kind of boring when itâ€™s at that scale. Needless to say, a small club show from this band would be transcendent. But I certainly wouldnâ€™t have them emulate U2 and put hidden keyboard players backstage to fill out the sound. The Policeâ€™s authenticity in this reunion experiment has been the best thing about it.
But last night managed some transcendence as well. The opening arpeggios of â€œMessage in a Bottleâ€ make one of the best concert openings in history. And, as if on cue, the hooligans in the alley waited until the climax of â€œCanâ€™t Stand Losing Youâ€ to launch an impressive fireworks show in the twilight behind the stage. It was awesome.
Ha,,,good for observing this gig and putting down for the record a few words. The problem is that those three guys are members of extinct specie. Having said that (and I’ve checked these guys in St Louis) they are just to much to bear. As a robust trio they have something that has been lost,,,,That genuine instinct of a true artist, with tons of muscular and aggressive groove, and sophisticated musical attitude. These guys are not on the stage to get any chicks, and they certainly do not need to proof anything. Maybe, young fellas should study mr. Copeland how to carry on a show, with stamina, wit and focus that is unseen nowadays. How about show where the guitarist (consciously or not) is NOT playing any blues, boogie riff…..Talking about soloing: there are plenty of Malmsteens, Vais, and retards of that sort around,,,,
And Sting, that old bastard and egomaniac,,,,,,he is SOB hated by successive generations of musical losers. So be it, they may hate a guy who in his age is able to pull notes of pretty high register, and do that on stage every night, over and over,,,,,Or, maybe lots of Sting haters are just envy on physical fitness and condition that he is in.
They are not young fucks anymore, but they really do now their craft, with repertoire that is fantastic as it used to be 25 years ago…Great job,,,,
And lets give them a slack. What we need to see on a top of this? ,,,,,John Lennon second coming, and the Beatles tour ?or maybe second coming of John Bonham to see those Zepps to tour around the world…….
Wow, Nilanthi, you really do like the Police. Awesome. Thanks for “Regatta de Blanc”, too — that’s exactly what I was trying to come up with. Can’t remember if it was during “ELT” or not, must’ve been “Can’t Stand” if that’s something they’ve been doing. Anyway, I was just trying to dog Kot. :)
A positive review of the July 5th Wrigley show can be found on my favorite Cubs blog. And Marco, he mentions the Cubs jerseys worn by both drummers that night…
ok, i know i’m a psycho-diehard here, but i think the eey-os were totally typical of their early live shows (roxanne-o is classic) and not some new vocal crutch. and sting is all about the nostalgia for this tour (and i do mean sting since he’s the self-obsessed one who said this tour is about making him happy, as if there were any doubt). but if you watch the slick, background singer-ed up synchronicity 1983 show in atlanta and contrast it with the rough 1979/1980 live shows, the harry belafonte thing was a staple of that early period. and i think he made it work both then and now. and to have 55,000 people (i saw them at dodgers stadium) singing along loudly was amazing. truly enhanced the experience.
the big eey-o interlude i can think of is regatta de blanc which is inside can’t stand losing you when they play it live. what interlude did they do inside every little thing?
and i actually think they’re well-suited for stadiums, but i guess i should qualify it by saying it’s when they’re having an on-night. they have such a big sound (particularly andy with the echoplex–man, his solos sucked. it’s like his colleagues are afraid to tell him that his meandering jazz solos of the past 20 years do not work within the context of concise pop songs) that i’m glad i saw them at a stadium rather than a smaller venue. but apparently, i’m glad i didn’t see them at wrigley field. sux. :( i think having foo fighters open for them and completely rocking (dave grohl running into the audience, outrunning his security guards, and performing on top of the dugout) made them paranoid that they couldn’t be upstaged by their opening act.
marco–there were 2 reviews that mentioned the cubs jersey, in case you want to read them:
Copeland made up for Sting’s name-checking Comiskey Park earlier in the evening by wearing a custom-made Cubs jersey that both pandered and displayed the band’s underdog mentality, even as they surfed a multi-million dollar wave of single-evening ticket sales.
That – and the kick that came from Copeland donning a Cubs baseball jersey at the end of the show with his name and “07” stitched on the back.
question–one chicago review i read mentioned the first negative thing i have read about stewart’s playing. said he was behind the beat! was that true? every review i’ve read about their tour has commented how stewart is the one shining performer that gives his all every night. and since he was usually the one who got yelled at for playing too fast (have you seen everyone stares yet?), i find it hard to imagine he was behind the beat. impressions?
ok, back to spending more productive hours at work…
Eric Stanklin says
Ha! Andy Summers is old. And judging by what I’ve seen on their various television appearances, Stu seems to have cured his tempo issues. I guess we all slow down in old age.
I too was at Thursday’s show – I thought the music was “wuss-ified”. They are older, more mellow but seeing them live just once in my life was worth it. I was 10 whenn they broke up; the pothead next to me was 4 when they broke up but even with all the negatives about the show that I noticed (and missed but other reviewers noted) it was thrilling to see them live and at a venue like Wrigley. I hate hate HATE the cubs but love that park and can say I saw them at Wrigley.
The weather was perfect and one thing – no review has mentioned Copeland wearing the Cubs jersey for the 2nd encore. Thanks for the review.
Haha… True! That was truly egregious.
Speaking of, Greg Kot took Sting to task for it in his review of last night’s show. Kot expresses annoyance at the ubiquity of what he calls Sting’s “most annoying vocal tic — particularly when it resurfaced in “Every Little Thing”.
In fairness, they actually went briefly into another Police song during “ELT”, the name of which alludes me, but the entire lyrical content of that song is in fact “eee-yo”. But Kot’s not wrong. I think it would’ve been more justified to pick on him for bringing it in shamelessly later in the set…
Roxanne-o? I don’t think so-o.
you forgot that apparently saying “ee–oo” is genetic as well