And here are some old ones...
In the wake of new wave and reggae saturation, it's ironic that a group who only dangle their feet in both should commercially outrun the groundbreakers The Police's, amost subversive stalking of the world's radios and hi-fi's suggests a powerful propaganda.
This is what they've had: as America wilted under the gall of Britain's parading punks they searched for a begrudging, token gesture of acceptance that wouldn't tickle the established sub-urbanity Stateside, The Cars materialised and Cheap Trick popped up and rolled their eyeballs invitingly, from unsophisticated, depressed Britain the AM commotions of Costello and clones were waved through customs. Sting's tail-enders walked through the red lane.
With the spotlight on, it was time to listen to the revolutionary new wave and cackle over its harmlessness Police-beat was thinly soulful, blanched and propelled by rhythrns that stumbled and shuffled rather than strutted. Sun kissed harmonies leaned lightly on the gristle of modified reggae syncopation and the whole was rounded and confident.
The mileage of The Police was measured; it stretched back across the Atlantic and beyond.
Three figures are awash under the lighting; they don't move much and amidst the visual calm Sting draws attention with composed authority. The Police are easy-going and ridiculously watchable.
Their music doesn't bow at any altars and merely winks at heritage. They alienate nobody as their appeal is diverted dead-centre. But they also touch on the frontiers of punk and reggae; therefore they round-up two camps and at that juncture they fill Hammersmith Odeon.
There they push the pop-song ethic where others prod it and expect it to jump forward. They tear along the dotted line and weld together California, JA and UK in a seamless flux. Their songs are obvious but rarely sound it, and the trick to their effective simplicity is concealed within. The trick is surely no trick at all.
Their command ensures that they name their own archetype and their name is suitably authoritarian. The Police sense of identity is fierce; contact between band and audience is therefore immediate. While broadening their horizons they enhance their accessibility and remain free from artifice.
Having discarded the harsher elements of reggae mechanics the result is an unselfconscious and adapted commerciality.
Choruses are replete with quicksilver acceleration and cumulative, irrepressible attack. 'Roxanne' and 'Can't Stand Losing You' become successful crowd-baters, but as such are stretched and torn apart while new material is surprisingly introspective, eerily romantic and lightly experimental. Their songs concern reactions of resigned desperation that appeal because, to various extents, they're widely mirrored.
They stumble where the gap between their stainless pop and self-parody almost touches knees. 'Born In The 50's' waves a cheaply nostalgic flag and the chorus is fashioned, overperfect and antiseptic: the product of effort rather than intuition and muscle.
But they regulate dreams and are regulation rebels that your mother might love. Again, it's the best of both worlds. They don't boast, their music is good-humoured, automatic and doesn't usually stretch for its perfection.
Sting's remarkable voice bobs airily on Andy Summer's strident guitar phrasing and contrasts cool soul with jagged strategy. It's this juxtaposition that's their edge, and their gliding between regulated extremes of style is shrewd but never cynical.
Mid-set Sting removes his shades and still looks invulnerably self-assured.
Later, after repeated encores drummer Stewart Copeland jogs off stage for the last time en route for breakfast in America; The Police skytrain is in motion and for the UK it's back to the specifics of airplay and vinyl.
Somewhere Sting adds a postscript: "You can call it lack of confidence. " He must be kidding.
© New Musical Express by Pete Archer (with thanks to Dietmar)
Image courtesy of Dietmar.