|Tour||The 'Reggatta' years 1979/80|
LONDON: Lewisham OdeonOne small step...
Wazmo Nariz wears two ties - but then so did Spilt Enz, and look what happened to them - and he's handicapped by a "wacky" image and a U.S. production campaign saying "Be smart, Be Cool, Don't Buy It, Don't Play It, Don't Hear It". So when he started his set, a lot of "smart" people weren't buying it. Which isn't surprising when you're playing support on teen heart-throb territory.
Wazmo and his band come across as mood music for fixing lampshades, despite an eccentric vocal style which is the weird sounds of ultimo art expression. Imagine Lene Lovich with a throat infection duetting with Pere Ubu in a state of nemesis extremis - well, uh, he may be wearing the face of an obscure future, but he does dance. On 'Luncheonette Lovers', Wazmo was doing something that looked like the Salamander's Promenade, but his heart wasn't in it and they wisely played a short set.
What else could refugees from the American Kitsch-palace do when hundreds were aching for the Regatta des Blondes? A thousand sighs welcomed the Police, who got on with 'Next To You' cleverly next to themselves in the form of a background slide show which was an offensive reminder of their golden moments on TOTP, now made flesh divine.
Naturally, the full house loved the early ace of 'Walking On The Moon' and, about a third of the way through, with 'Bring On The Night', the Police began to extend and elaborate. I liked the way they opened up the song, but they started to lean on it in 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' as the long middle section developed with treated guitars and space-age effects while Sting's voice echoed and re-echoed like he was in a superior tiled bathroom.
But they didn't do themselves any favours with 'Roxanne'. The dub-type spaces turned into yawning holes, and 'Roxanne' went down the drain along with Sting's voice - which is usually sharper than the average bread knife. Still, 'I Can't Stand Losing You'/'Reggatta de Blanc' covered the loss. The cool, clean sound that refreshes was almost sabotaged by the audience's shy and feeble contribution to the call-and-response piece, but 'Losing You' bounced back in a display of strength and fitness before orbiting around restlessly looking for a landing area for longer than necessary.
The encores brought out 'Born In The 50's', 'Message In A Bottle', and Sting's bare torso. ("Quick - a stretcher. Girls are fainting already.") I was struggling into my biplane for the overview.
I love the Police for three minutes at a time. They make very peachy singles, but when they insist on riding the inter-galactic patrol with accompanying stretched atmospherics on song after song, the repetition comes to feel like ten minutes too much. They even played the slides through again. One of these days they're going to look at them and find that the Police of then have made the Police of now redundant.
© Melody Maker by Debra Daley (with thanks to Dietmar)