What is there left to say about The Police?
As for the music, what is there left to say about The Police? They are the most musicianly best selling pop group ever. This is a fact. Their live sound in Augsberg was also the best I've ever heard in the open air.
Their performance was faultless, precise, thoroughly professional. They played every hit single from 'Roxanne' to 'Every Breath You Take', fleshed out the set with Sting's songs from 'Synchronicity', and the vast majority of the audience were delighted.
Somehow, I felt short changed. I think what frustrates me the most about the band is that Andy Summers always seems to be in handcuffs. The spare, spacey style that he has evolved with The Police is tasteful and enjoyable, but I miss the renegade flamboyance that he used bring to the groups of Kevin Ayers and Kevin Coyne.
There was a moment in 'King of Pain' when it seemed that he might be briefly unchained but an all-too-short solo was abruptly cut off as Sting leapt back into the verse.
A bit more democracy in The Police would be a great step, I think.
Copeland, too, often seems to be straining at the bit, squeezing his creativity into the tunes by detailing the beat when it might be better to just open the songs up, unfold them, and let each member do his stuff. And if long solos are no longer fashionable then bugger fashion. Call me cloth-eared, but I feel that their show needs variety.
When the hits are played back-to-back, and played straight, I wonder why I did not stay at home with the records. And worse, the intervallic leaps that Sting makes with his voice and which seemed so unique and refreshing on 'Roxanne' really begin to pall as one song follows another in rapid succession. The similarities in the melody lines become stressed rather than the differences.
Of course, The Police can follow their current course for years yet and be assured of adoring support but Copeland and Summers, at least, are musicians first and pop stars second and would require, I guess, some measure of artistic satisfaction from their work.
I don't see that they're likely to get it going on the road playing Sting's Greatest Hits, as mere extras in his show. If the boss refuses to relax his grip on the reins, it may just be time for a power coup.
Meanwhile, Sting was basking in his Messiah's role. "You are the salt of the earth," he told us beaming down from on high. And, with the scene stealing coonhound launching a one dog invasion of the stage, the show went out with 'So Lonely' and the inevitabl choruses of Eeyo Eeeyo Eeyayo's, the animal scampering around the bassist's feet and adding his own comments.
It was a nice goofy conclusion, and raised a few smiles, even in the sloping rain.
But I smiled most at the realisation that there would be no more open air pop festivals this year. No more Golden Summer nights of sub-zero temperatures. Goodbye to all that.
© Melody Maker by Steve Lake
Image courtesy of Dietmar & Raphael