Monday, July 9, 2007

Exclusive Concert Review #2: The Police, Wrigley Field, July 6, 2007

In my collection of very first memories are moments I would spend watching MTV in the early '80s with my older brother. In those days, MTV actually played music videos, and the Police were ubiquitous. Their videos, especially in the Zenyatta Mondatta and Ghost in the Machine days, were simple but glorious, capturing three gorgeous, golden-haired young men in the prime of their lives, on top of the rock world, mostly jumping around and goofing off (disguising the fact that they probably wanted to kill each other). Of these videos, "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" is so profoundly important to me, personally. It represents to me the fragile happiness of my family when my dad was still alive and kicking, before all the cancer and the slow march to death and the general collapse of the rest of us emotionally. It represents the nights when my parents would go out for the evening, and my brother (then 15) would babysit me (then 4). He'd bake peanut butter cookies and turn on MTV, and "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" would always be on, and I'd nurse my childhood crushes on each member of The Police. And I always loved the Police for that childhood memory, but since then I've learned to appreciate the slightly eerie sound of the piano and keyboards on that song, the sublime cymbals, the sad narrative of unrequited love belied by the sheer joyfulness of the chorus, and oh yes--Stewart Copeland's tiny white shorts and looooooooooooooooong legs. For all of the above reasons, "ELTSDIM" is my All-Time Favorite Song Ever In the History of My Life, and Nothing Is Going to Change That.
But I loved the rest of the Police's catalogue as well...Regatta de Blanc, Zenyatta Mondatta, Ghost in the Machine, Synchronicity. ("Synchronicity II" is especially close to my heart for the lyrics, "Another suburban family morning/grandmother screaming at the wall," as we had my maternal grandmother living with us who was quite apt to scream at the wall, among other eccentricities.) I remember watching the Synchronicity concert film on TV, absolutely rapt, only wishing that I too could have been there.

I had to wait a little over 20 years for my chance. It was a terrifying weight of expectation to place on the shoulders of the aging members of a reunited band on one night. I thought to myself, I'm certain to be disappointed. Also, I had been hearing ominous rumors that the Police had been tooling around with their greatest hits, that they were slower, that, God forbid, Sting had been making them jazzier. So as we approached Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL, I almost felt a sort of dread--dread that my favorite band of all time might let me down.

I am happy to report that I was wrong! Yes, some of the songs were slowed down, some were jammier, but nothing was insufferable. As I said to my companions, "Thank God Sting didn't ruin this Police concert!"

The show was sold out, and the difficulty of purchasing tickets was underscored by the fact that we were in section 524, at the very, very highest level, and only about three rows ahead of the very last row. Check out our AWESOME view here!

Some quick notes on the performance, and I don't have the exact setlist in front of me, so bear with me and my rusty memory:

"Message in a Bottle" and "Synchronicity II" opened the show without a hitch. "Voices Inside My Head" and "When the World is Running Down" both sounded more vibrant and lively than I remember from the albums. "Walking on the Moon" was slow, but that had always been a slower, heavily reggae-influenced song. "ELTSDIM" made me feel all happy and misty, and people were dancing like dorks waaaaay up in the nosebleeds. "Roxanne" also brought the crowd to their feet but sort of lost momentum in the jammy middle. I was thrilled to hear both "The Bed's Too Big Without You" and "Can't Stand Losing You." "Invisible Sun" was moving, as the pictures displayed on the jumbotrons evoked those who are stuck in war-torn regions. "King of Pain" sounded just perfect, and everyone in the ballpark knew the words to "Every Breath You Take," of course. Probably my favorite moment in the concert had to be the final encore, "Next to You," during which Sting and co. were blazing--no middle-aged jazziness, just straight-up (and fast!) rawk.

I would say that the only disappointment of the evening was "Don't Stand So Close To Me," with the chorus slowed down 1986-style. Come on, Sting--put some energy into that one! The best thing about the original version was the almost painful sexual frustration of the narrator. The other major disappointment of the night? That the concert had to ever end.

Sting and Andy Summers may not have been as animated onstage as they were in their 20s, which is to be expected, but Stewart Copeland (Celebrity Crush #76) was unstoppable. The man worked his ass off back there, manning his ginormous drumset, about 7,000 cymbals, and a gong. The crowd definitely appreciated it, and for the most part, we were pretty fired up throughout.

I have long felt that Sting desperately needed Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland to keep him youthful and prevent his self-indulgent tendencies. As much as I'd LOVE for the Police to record at least one other album together, I know that their personal dynamics may make that impossible, and I certainly understand each member's need to be the masters of their own respective universes. On the other hand...

Although from where I was sitting, I couldn't hear a SINGLE WORD Sting said, I could swear at the end of the show he said something like, "Maybe we'll be back soon"? God, I hope so! Give me just *one more* Police show in the next 20 years, and I'd be a happy girl.


8 comments:

Ro said...

Yeah, the concert was definitely a fun time, and really, our nosebleed seats weren't much better than those who shelled out an extra $50 to sit in the lower decks. And really, that I was hoping for but didn't hear was "Spirits in the Material World", which I think is very applicalbe and pertinent to today's polictical climate. But all in all, it was a solid show.

In fact, my only gripe about the experience had nothing at all to do with the concert itself but rather with the douchebag frat boy who showed up halfway through the Police's set to play musical chairs. I was apparently in "his" seat, and after being very rudely told to move, he totally shoved me out of the seat when I didn't move fast enough! I'm generally not one to perpetrate violence, but let me tell you, that asshole nearly got his clocked cleaned. Dude, we were moving! Take your playground antics back to the Cubby Bear with the rest of your frat boy brethren. And the thing that REALLY ticked me off was that he wasn't even all that into the concert. But in a grand karmic payback, in taking my seat, he put himself next to a total seat hog to the right of me. And I can only hope he got the uncomfortable leg rub and the sharp elbow to the ribs as many times as I did.

maise said...

Okay, see the thing about that guy was that he wasn't with anyone in our row. We were one seat off ourselves because some other people were in our seats, but we didn't make a big deal out of it. Why? Because we were in the SHITTIEST SEATS possible. There was another empty seat in our row that he could have taken. He didn't need to be belligerent about it, and there was NO EXCUSE for him touching you. Especially because we were in the process of moving for his royal doucheness.

Ro said...

Yeah, it wasn't like the seat he demanded had a better view of things than the one that was already open. He was just being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. But it brings up some interesting concert etiquette to be sure.

maise said...

Also because he showed up halfway through the proceedings and kept waving at and texting someone below, he had probably been kicked out of someone else's seat himself earlier.

Oh well, neither he nor Sting could ruin this Police concert.

Ro said...

Yes, I was thoroughly impressed with Sting keeping it cool Friday night. I was half expecting him to start with the jazz hands, but I think Stewart and Andy kept that shit largely in check. You could see Sting trying to bust out the soccer mom jazzy bullshit, but they reigned him in quite effectively.

maise said...

Yeah, just when Sting had hit his limit with the "EEE-YOs," the drums would kick back in...

Iris said...

I think my childhood idol was Cyndi Lauper. I loved her multicolored punk hair and all her outfits. I was totally fascinated with her. I remember staring at her picture on the “She’s So Unusual” record for hours. Besides her music being totally fun to listen to, she was involved with WWF wrestling for a little while as a manager. Wrestling also something a 4 year old Iris was fascinated with. My poor brothers...we used to flying drop kicks from the top bunk onto my single bed that was next to theirs and I would kick their ass every time. Kind of a fun stroll down memory lane.

As a matter of fact Ro, next time some douchebag concert attendee tries to push you out of the way you should get him to look at the ground, grab him by the belt loops, and piledrive his ass! Lol. That would show him!

Ro said...

I damn near busted out my nun-chucks on his ass. They are my weapon of choice, after all.