The Police at the Rock Garden....
If ever a band passed through the twilight zone of the New Wave and came out with an original and distinctive sound of their own, it's The Police. They have a fistful of good songs, a small but loyal following and an increasing maturity in their writing, performance and attitude to prove it. Hot and sweaty as always at the Rock Garden, we bopped and swayed to music pumped out with an energy and style that most apres-punque bands would give their gilt safety-pins for - and from a three-piece the power was remarkable.
Avoiding heavy metal thrash in the main, although 'Fall Out' and 'Landlord' were undistinguished examples of that, the clarity with which they delivered the beautiful 'Roxanne' for example, was matched only by the passion of their performance. They looked good too: Stewart Copeland endearingly insolent behind the drums, Andy Summers' boy-next-door guitar hero looks belying his musicianship, and Sting, the man with with the reggae-rhythm bass and Small Faces tape loop for a voice, whose cheeky suntan wouldn't go amiss behind one of the junk jewellery stalls in Petticoat Lane.
'Be My Girl' was a laugh - a poem about an inflatable doll recited with Benny Hill nonchalance by Andy Summers, sandwiched between a fast repetitive chorus; and 'Hole In My Life' sounded almost as good as 'She's A Woman' from which the riff had been plundered. 'Born In The Fifties' was a nice Steppenwolf/Who hybrid anthem but Police's obvious metier is the loping, reggae tinged beat ballad, as illustrated by 'Can't Stand Losing You', 'So Lonely' and 'Roxanne', during which Mr Andy Summers hit that long lunar note and let it float before meandering through a solo like the moon on the Westway, dark and mysterious.
There was no gobbing, some beer was thrown and Sting prevented a possible fight by singing a new version of 'The Yellow Rose Of Texas', accapella yet. He really does have an impressive voice. In retrospect, they are one of the few bands who have made me want to go and buy their singles on the grounds of their performance (how about a live EP?). In fact the bloke I was with lent me the latest one and I can't... I can't... I can't stop playing it...
© New Musical Express by Neil Norman
Image courtesy of Dietmar & Raphael