English Trio at Garden...
Except for the Rolling Stones' appearances here last fall, no other rock event in the last year has aroused such high expectations as the arrival of the Police, the English trio that was at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Augmented for their tour by three South Jersey horn players who call themselves the Chops Horns, the Police put on one of the most exciting arena concerts that this observer has seen in a long time.
The Police are the first white group to thoroughly integrate Jamaican reggae into a pop setting in a way that doesn't seem dilettantish or didactic. For the Police's songs are genuinely internationalist in outlook. They assume a one-world consciousness that is very much a product of global telecommunications.
While their viewpoint is leftist, it is not strenuously revolutionary. Unlike many of his other politically-minded peers in rock, Sting, the trio's chief songwriter, lead singer and bass player, writes with the light touch of a natural phrasemaker. The pessimistic, alienated side of his sensibility is balanced by an irrepressible pop enthusiasm that expresses itself in wonderful tunes that blend modal reggae chants with strong pop hooks.
The Police's music is so catchy that at Friday's concert the audience was able to sing along with at least half the songs. The addition of the horns gave the songs an extra rhythmic punch and in places provided a soulfulness that the recorded versions lack. Live, the band's signature sound is as striking as it is on disk, with Andy Summers' shimmering rhythm guitar springing off of Stewart Copeland's buoyant pop-reggae foundations to echo Sting's keening rock tenor in almost a mirror-like effect.
The Go-Go's, the Los Angeles-based women's quintet which opened for the Police, have improved considerably since they played the Ritz some months ago. This time around, they were able to reproduce the sassy close harmonies and to convey the conspiratorial wit that made their debut album, 'Beauty and the Beat,' one of the surprise successes of the past year. 'Our Lips Our Sealed,' their signature hit, with its nostalgic echoes of Tommy James, the Ventures, and the Crystals, was the obvious highlight of a delightful set.
© The New York Times by Stephen Holden
Ticket image from jooZt