This was the day Sting returned to fleece his homeland: tickets £8.30, T-shirts £5, programmes £2, hamburgers £1. With a warning on the ticket to buy only inside the stadium 'so that you receive only official items at their normal price', there was a suspicion that the whole affair was Sting's revenge on Tyneside for the years he spent playing in pub jazz-rock bands.
The Lords of The New Church, the first band, did nothing to dispel this feeling, with a mercifully short-set filled with spectacularly unoriginal songs and tiresomely familiar poses which should go down a storm on the American stadium circuit.
The Gang of Four began their set with what was easily the worst sound I've ever heard - a howl of feedback and so much trouble that it was impossible to distinguish between Hugo Burnham's cymbals and Andy Gill's guitar. The sound man took his ear plugs out as the Gang swung into 'Man In Uniform' and a glimmer of the power of one of the hardest, most exciting live bands around began to show through.
The Beat play bright, bubbling sunshine music and under the grey Gateshead skies their fizz inevitably fell a bit flat, although their joy and enthusiasm did reach the crowd enough to cause the first real stir of the day. They deserved their encore, but I was surprised at their literal treatment of their singles - I had expected them to be more adventurous live.
A well supported U2 were welcomed, with energetic bouncing breaking out across the audience. They produced a set of excellent, if traditional rock, characterised by The Edge's distinctive guitar and Bono's soaring vocals.
The Police were totally predictable. Coming on over a tape to ecstatic applause from the half empty stadium, Sting yodelled and changes basses for every other song (did he really need that many - or was he just trying to ward off boredom?), Andy Summers played his heavy metal guitar solos, and Stewart Copeland hit everything in sight but, unfortunately, not in time.
I can't say that they played badly - they're mush too professional and slick for that - but their many hits were trotted out with a lack of excitement which suggests that their days as a group may be numbered.
The three are too intelligent to carry on with anything as meaningless as the Police has become - Sting will drift into acting, Stewart Copeland will become a film director, and Andy Summers will probably end up playing for the Tygers of Pan Tang.
The audience loved it - but then at £8.30 a time they could hardly afford not to could they?
© Record Mirror by Jonathan Hope (with thanks to Dietmar)
Ticket from Dave & Wendy