Police Report: August 31, 1983. Arrive outside Pacific Coliseum at 7 p.m. Scalpers doing brisk trade at 30 bucks a crack. But ticket booth still has few tickets left. Sign on ticket window warns: ALL REMAINING SEATS ARE BEHIND THE STAGE AND VIEW IS OBSTRUCTED. Teen fans don't mind. They pay (.50) each, then join line-up to get into PNE grounds.
7:28. Man in ticket booth puts sign on window: SOLD OUT. All 16,611 tickets are gone. First rock concert sellout at Coliseum in two years.
7:30. Enter PNE grounds. Join long lineup to get into Coliseum. Inside building by 7:40. Warm-up act started 15 minutes early, at 7:15. No twins in the six-piece electro-funk dance band, which sings 'Lies, lies, lies, yeh". Best part is band's seven photography-style lighting umbrellas. They sit on stage like potted palms in a hotel lobby.
8:05. Good Night say Twins. Crowd doesn't call them back for encore. But Thompson Twins do a sort of video encore - when lights come up, MTV rock videos are shown on big 24x18 foot screen above stage. Twins video played. Also videos by Squeeze, Payola$, Bow Wow Wow.
8:15. Notice age of audience is mainly late teens, early 20s. See one father accompanying two pre-teen daughters. One is wearing Police T-shirt (), the other is wearing Police jersey ().
8:30. Riley O'Connor, head of Perryscope Concerts, the company putting on concert, comes on stage. "The band is not going on until everyone sits down in their seats!" he says. Most people continue sitting in aisles on floor level. People on floor continue standing on seats.
8:40. O'Connor returns to play nasty: 'Everyone please return to their seats! This show is not going to start until you start listening to me!" Someone shouts out, 'Okay Dad!" Bouncers help convince crowd to comply.
8:50. Lights go down. 'Good eveninggg" shouts Sting, chief of Police, as he comes on stage. Crowd cheers, deliriously happy. Band opens with 'Sychronicity', title song from new Police album.
Young woman beside me (later learn she's 17, name Roxanne) shouts in my ear: "I love Sting. Isn't he great?" I nod. "Nice tenor voice," I say. "Kinda raspy, though."
'That's what I like about it," says Roxanne, who is dressed exactly like the five friends she's with - white shirt, sleeveless sweater, mini-skirt, pointy black shoes, white socks. All six do the new-wave bob in time to music.
Band plays another new song, 'Walking in Your Footsteps'. Guy in his 20ssitting on other side of me shouts in ear: "Copeland is fabulous." Assume he means Stewart Copeland, Police drummer.
"Listen to those African cross-rhythms, they're almost Arabic," says the guy (his name is Brad, says he's a UBC student and musician). 'Fabulous," he says.
"The Police are accessible, you know?" I'm not sure whether he's telling or asking. "But they're avant-garde too... list to Summer's guitar on this one."
He's talking about Andy Summers, the Police's unconventional guitarist who slides out some jazzy riffs, but mainly chords that fuse pop, punk and ethnic rhythms.
I listen to song called 'Message in a Bottle'. Tell him I didn't need a bottle opener to get the message out of that one. Next song: 'Walking on the Moon'. Crowd sings along with Sting: "Yo-yo-yo-yo."
Before Sting sings 'Oh My God', he tell crowd: 'Three hundred and sixty-five days ago I was standing in this same spot. It's funny isn't it?" Also says the first time the Police played Vancouver in the late 70s "we played to about seven people."
Band sings 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da'. It's so easy even I sing along. Brad tell me names of Police songs as trio plays them: 'Wrapped Around Your Finger', 'Tea in the Sahara', 'Spirits in the Material World', and 'Invisible Sun'.
Next song, 'King of Pain', gets giant response. "Listen how painful the imagery is here," says Brad, excited. "There's nothing like it."
I listen, taking notes: There's a fossil trapped in a high cliff wall / There's a dead salmon frozen in a waterfull / There's a blue whale beached by a springtide's ebb? There's a butterfly trapped in a spider's web... That's my soul up there."
"Really painful," I admit. "What's it about?" Divorce he says.
Hmmm. Good beat, mainly easy to dance to, intelligent musical statements. Maybe that's why Police are No.1 on the record charts.
10:05. Band runs off stage. Video screen show trio going into dressing room where Sting takes off shirt (lotsa screams in the audience). Band members don top hats, pour cuppa tea, cut cake, then trash cake and stick flower and beer bottle in it. Sting tries to whip table cloth off. Cake goes splat on floor.
10:09. Police run back on stage (Sting still shirtless, still wearing top hat) and 'Don't Stand So Close', 'Every Breath You Take' (crowd roars) and 'Roxanne' ("This is my song!" squeals Roxanne, giving me a nudge.)
10:25. Standing ovation. Police come back and 'I Can't Stand Losing You'. At 10:37, band takes a bow, leaves stage, lights come up.
"Great, eh?" Says Roxanne. "Fabulous or what?" asks Brad.
"Yeah. Great energy. Fabulous tunes," I agree. 'No gimmicks, but more rock than I imagined three guys could put out. I guess it's like the song says, every little thing they do is magic."
© Vancouver Sun by Neil Hall
Image courtesy of Dietmar & Raphael