It seemed at first to be just an overactive imagination playing tricks on one's lightshow-dazzled hearing skills, and surely, nothing more; but later, fears were confirmed by other disbelieving ears.
STING PLAYED A BUM NOTE.
Must be true, it's here in print.
Thing is, being an international mega-star, Sting took that painfully duff half-second (or thereabouts) of clumsy musicianship and transformed it into a thing of beauty; 'Tea In The Sahara' smouldered onwards, and no one seemed to have noticed anyway.
The Police began their effortlessly brilliant set with a startling lack of warning - as 'Synchronicity' drifted into the foyer, Police Warriors were still lounging around with their ice creams - and there seemed almost to be an air of wanting to get things over and done with as quickly as possible about their lightning pace, their barely stopping for breath between songs; or maybe it was purely a genuine hunger for new peaks which drove them on. Whatever, it's of little consequence. Nothing can touch The Police these days, why, they're even bigger than Paul Young around these parts.
And isn't it great, at last, to have a mega-group that makes music of a calibre deserving of such fame and fortune (and loneliness). It's wonderful knowing that when, say, 'Message In A Bottle' reaches it's climax, there are countless further treasures to come - for a fun party game, try naming them all - and less pleasantly, plenty further Sting-led crowd singalong yawnalongs: but that's showbiz for ya.
Andy, (fancy white shirt) Stuart (white'n'blue baseball top, numbered '99') and the Other One (frilly leather Pop Star type outfit) are so popular that even the local cap-sleeved yobs join hands and sing along, practically dribbling over the carpet in their eagerness to obey the Other One's every command.
The Police are so talented now as performers, musicians and songwriters, (90 per cent of the time) that when they hit that halfway point in 'Every Breath You Take', where heaven's gates open and the meaning of life generally unfolds, nothing less than a communal wave of ecstasy rushes through the audience, hinting loudly at the involuntary opening of several thousand bowels. The moment is magic. Dead straight.
They play 'So Lonely' and it suddenly clicks how similar Sting's voice (when pushed to its limit) is to that of Mickey Dolenz. Nothing important. The Police show is absolute technical perfection; beautifully presented, beautifully performed.
They encore with 'Roxanne' and one wonders if it takes them back to the boiling intimacy of the Marquee, and if they miss the old days, the nights when they could down a swift pint at the bar and have a bash on the old Space Invaders pre-gig, if they'd like the chance to be able to snap their fingers and be mere mortals all over again. So many questions...
When he's out there in front of all those worshippers, being so famous, playing that historical music, does Sting secretly sometimes wish he were at home with a nice cup of tea watching 'Sportsnight', or having a bath, or wrapping up the Christmas presents?
It's not important, but one gets the distinct impression (or is it merely good showmanship?) that he loves and thrives on that, perhaps everlasting, mega-popular Police Sound, which might just add up to the acceptable face of 80s Pop Capitalism. Not that it matters.
© Sounds by Winston Smith (with thanks To Dietmar)
Ticket from Tina