|Venue||Danforth Music Hall|
|Tour||The 'Reggatta' years 1979/80|
TORONTO: Danforth Music HallThe Police: on the beat...
The rules for success in new wave rock seem simple: One: Avoid public toilet seats. Two: Give your band a name that employs the indefinite article "The". Witness the Police and the News, two-thirds of Friday nights feature on a Music Hall triple bill. The Police burst on to the scene last spring with a fabulous gimmick: Three blondes, two Brits and a Yankee, playing reggae-influenced pop on a very high energy level.
But Friday night, with the trappings of success littered all over their stage in the form of expensive lights and electronics, the Police were no gimmick and effectively followed up their initial success with an intelligent, almost educational presentation of their music. Although the band yearns for Bob Marley's respect, their reggae especially the bastardised stuff on the second album, is lily-white. So was their audience at the first of their two sold-out shows.
There were two halves to each song, lead vocalist and bassist, Sting, was the focus during the verses. Swaying back and forth in a Marleyesque two-step while chanting simplistic prose (I see you sent my letters back and my LP records and they are scratched), he hypnotised the crowd aided by the chunky rhythms of guitarist Andy Summer and drummer Stewart Copeland.
The payoff came in the chorus, an explosion of lights, noise and adrenalin that let loose like clockwork on 'Losing You', 'Truth', 'SOS' and 'Roxanne'. It was during these moments, and there were many, that the band looked like The Clash, The Jam or any one of a number of well-known punk bands.Yet the contrasting styles combined for a vaguely original taste and the Police have improved on the formula greatly since their disappointing appearance at The Edge last spring.
The only danger is the fragile formula itself. A particularly long instrumental solo featuring Summers playing his electronics like a child would a new toy went over poorly and it took a couple of numbers for the band to recapture the mood. One can only hope that the Police haven't painted or dyed themselves into a corner.
The News committed the fatal error of going under a name used by a superior English band when they went under the name of The Mods. However they will do much better under the new title for the simple reason of a phenomenal improvement.
Singer Greg Trinier is still a spastic loony on stage but drummer David Quinton, bassist Mark Dixon and guitarist Scott Marks have become a very formidable trio in the past six months.
Quadrophenic posturing aside, The News are a good band by any standards and 'Between Four Walls', a song written by the group after watching Midnight Express, shows immense promise. Due to circumstances beyond my control I missed Wazmo Nariz's warm-up set. Do, I have that backwards?
© Unidentified Newspaper by Jonathan Gross