Police live up to super billing at Tangerine Bowl...
Dwarfed by their sound system and barely visible from the far end of the Tangerine Bowl stage, a trio of musicians collectively known as the Police arrested the attention of more than 30,000 fans Saturday. It was, in no uncertain terms, a fine concert.
The Police were headliners on a bill that included Eric Burdon and the Animals (remember them?) and The Fixx in a late-afternoon gathering dubbed Rock Superbowl XIX. I enjoyed a certain smugness knowing that Orlando has staged more "Superbowls" than the NFL, thought I'm not sure that the three-band lineup - even a high quality one like this - qualified as a "Superbowl" event until MTV's Martha Quinn announced that the Police performance would be getting video coverage.
Giant video screens flanked the stage, the weather was perfect, the concert began.
First up were Eric Burdon and the Animals. As one of the best known rhythm-and-blues bands of the mid-'60's, the original Animals briefly contended for popularity with the likes of the Beatles before disbanding at the end of the decade. Burdon's style hasn't changed. His voice still has its old, raspy power but took a few songs before it regained its subtlety. Burdon can still do "House of the Rising Sun" better than anyone else.
The Fixx, who appeared in Orlando for the first time last June (as the opening act for Flock of Seagulls), continue to show great promise. Their music was funky, angular and dramatic. Two of their best efforts were "Red Sky" and "The Fall."
The Police of course have received giant amounts of self-perpetuating publicity on a nationwide tour that has included virtually nothing but stadium-and arena-sized audiences. Not bad for a group that has turned out only five albums in as many years.
At the heart of the Police success story is Sting (Gordon Sumner), the band's spokesman and main songwriter. Though there are a few exceptions, his lyrics don't exactly send me, nor does his music. But he has been smart and tasteful enough to avoid overexploiting any one pop-rock idiom. Add to that the band's excellent musicianship and you have one of the most popular bands of the past six years.
Their appeal is broadened by Sting's ability to mix bits of rock, jazz and reggae in varying concentrations.
"Do you know me?" he asked the crowd from a darkened stage before the concert began. The answer was obvious.
The Police started with "Synchronicity I" and found themselves, nearly 90 minutes, later singing "Roxanne." The guitar playing was handled with enchanting, soaring excellence by Andy Summers. The delicate and complex drumming that anchored Sting's bass playing was performed by Stewart Copeland.
The Police made their arrest, then sent their suspects home satisfied.
© The Orlando Sentinel by Richard Defendorf (thanks to Michelle Sheridan)