The Police at Tooting Bec Common...
Trust the Police, who pride themselves on doing things their way, to hold their pre-Christmas concerts not in any old suitable arena, but in a "super-tent" erected in a south London meadow. For the younger mums and dads (of whom there were many, chaperoning as if to a circus) it may have reawakened memories of the great pop festivals of a decade ago: the long, patient wait to gain admittance at the single entrance, the spartan facilities, the bonfire night spirit maintained against the mud and drizzle.
Once inside, the atmosphere proved worth the struggle, for within the big top was the warm informality of a dance hall. The sound quality was exceptionally sharp, and the visibility of the group, even for those too timid to join the crush in front of the stage, was certainly better than at the average 5,000 seater arena.
We were warmed up by Rico Rodriquez's magnificent ska-reggae band, by the chap who plays Citizen Smith on television (presumably a genuflexion to the Totting Popular Front), by fine boogie-woogie piano from Jools Holland, and by poor Tommy Cooper, who was heckled unmercifully by the juveniles, although the parents applauded with a rather desperate loyalty.
The Police, no mere peroxide moptops but a band whose chart success is built upon the firmer foundations of musicianship and experience, played as vigorously as usual and with rather more concision than they showed on the recent Rockpalast telecast. The dub-reggae improvisations and Sting's yodelling were kept to an acceptable minimum, and the set was a good example of the kind of textural variety which can be achieved by a rock trio with the aid of today's technology.
For how long the formula will stand repetition is another matter: a concentration on more thoughtful songs, like Sting's 'Driven to Tears', would be helpful. At the moment, they remain one of the few major groups whose message is wholly affirmative.
© The Times by Richard Williams
Ticket: Tooting Bec Common, London
Image from Dietmar & Raphael<