The Police have set something adrift that's found thousands of recipients...
There's love here tonight: you can see it in the balcony where it spills out over the edge in all those thin arms stretched at the stage. It rises from the stalls as the audience dances, lurching and dipping, swaying and stumbling, hampered by the cinema seats.
This was best illustrated by 'The Bed's Too Big Without You': the bass bounces as it repeats its own argument, the quietly chatting drums interrupt the soft reasoned stokes of guitar; everything's saying the same thing in different rhythms and speeds and the song is so strong that when Sting sings "without you" as his voice stops the empty space in the air is filled with a silent scream from your own imagination.
Bass, guitar and drums coalesce, dissolve for a second into each other then each instrument slides away and circles the others, dissatisfied and mistrustful yet reluctantly, mutually, eternally attracted. Neither did I expect a delivery so powerful and sincere that the sound scythes straight to the back of the hall. The trap of the supergroup has been placed and set (you can see the signs in the fast succession of slides that flash colour pictures of those pretty Policemen on a huge screen at the beginning and end of the performance and in fact that 'Message In A Bottle' is saved for the obligatory second encore) but it hasn't yet snapped shut.
The Police are still free and for such seasoned professionals there's a strange disarming innocence about them. They take an innocent pleasure in their own performance; there's an innocent enjoyment in their ability to move a huge audience without manipulation; there's even innocence in Sting's happy, unconcerned acceptance of his own sensuality. And their performance does not rely on the standard, stagnant pattern of preconceived call and response or the laboured rabble rousings of preaching, hollow heroes. It's simple, joyous and spontaneous and it doesn't pretend to have implications greater than enjoyment of the immediate experience: The Police are rewarded by a response that isn't yet worship nor profane idolatry and is still based on friendship, respect and - generous warmth.
'Hole In My Life' sees thousands of arms shooting up in unison with Sting's as he shouts "yeah"; 'Roxanne' has a tune that turns in the pit of your stomach and a rhythm that hits you in the hips; catches you in its current and insists you get moving; 'Born In The 50's' seems Sting's personal anthem and as he sings it the strong stream of his voice loses a little of its awesome control. During a long, loose 'Can't Stand Losing You' a small girl is suddenly onstage, standing quite still and watching quietly as Andy Summers turns towards her smiling.
That's there as well, the lost urge to touch, mentally and physically; a gentle yearning for a closer proximity that can perhaps be directly attributed to the fact that this has the largest preponderance of female attendance that I've yet seen at a concert.
Of the three components of the triangle, Sting is breathtakingly beautiful but does not belabour you with his looks. His pure, sharp, shining voice lances, splits, slices and impales the songs; his bass is the anchor around which everything floats and revolves. Andy Summers is smaller, introverted and anxious looking; his polite restrained, retiring guitar is infinitely effective and gives the sound it's soft colourful substance.
Stewart Copeland's drums are far more than mere background; they are assertive, integral and as he sits with long limbs flashing around the range of his percussion, he's only restrained from joining the two at the front by the physical demands of being behind a drum-kit.
I still don't quite understand the cause of my conversion but I know that The Police have set something adrift that's found thousands of recipients.
© New Musical Express by Lynn Hanna