Wow, has it really been three months since I posted here? I guess Flickr has officially shanghai'd my blogging impulses. If a picture's worth a thousand words, however, I've been as prolific as Tolstoy.
Hmm, how about if I post the little review of the Police concert that I wrote over at the Flick? Redundant and lazy, yes, but at least it'll get rid of this sad blankness here at the M'Gumbo. Let's preface this by saying that I know nothing about musical critique beyond whatever seven years of being a teenage band geek taught me (that is to say, if they'd played a Sousa march, or "Pomp and Circumstance", I could've picked their performance to bits...). Also, I was completely biased to adore the Police regardless of how they sounded on stage - they could've performed "Every Breath You Take" with kazoos and cowbells and I'd still have swooned. But anyway, here's what I said:
OK, so they may not quite as energetic on stage as they were 25 years ago... But Sting, Stewart and Andy are all in great shape (Sting was, as usual, one luscious bit of cuddle, rocking his yogalicious chassis in a white muscle-tee and skinny black pants), and most importantly, they still absolutely rocked the McAfee Coliseum in Oakland last night. We were lucky enough to get field seats - pretty far back, but still better than swimming in the tide of people up in the stadium.
As promised, they band cast a new spin on some of the old songs, such as the great long version of "So Lonely" near the end of the show. Their spin on "Invisible Sun" was slow and poignant (on screen during the song, they showed scenes of 3rd-world war and woe - the social commentary portion of their set). They had a couple of songs with midway key changes that seem like they're still being perfected, and melding back together into a cohesive chorus after improv jags seemed like tricksy work a time or two - but the bumps were barely noticable and overall their sound was harmonious and tight for a band that's only been reunited for a few months after two decades apart. I would dearly love to see them again at the end of the tour to find out how their act evolves.
Andy seemed to be off in his own world much of the time with his generally low-key improvs (for which the new arrangements clearly provided him room). Bill commented that instrumentally, Sting seemed to stay pretty close to the original bass lines on many songs, saving his creative work primarily for vocals. He seemed to get pissed off at the little wood flute he used in the opening of "Walking In Your Footsteps". All through the night, he played the same beat-up old bass that I'm sure was his sidekick in the old days... For that matter, Andy stuck to the same gorgeous red guitar the entire time too. No mid-set instrument swapping for these guys, and we thought that was pretty cool. Stewart deployed an impressive little array of percussion toys, including some wind-chimey bells, a tympani, and a big brass gong. Of the three, he seemed to be having the most fun - and burning the most energy... Dude looked shagged by the end, but the huge grin on his face when Sting called his name during the wrap-up was endearing.
Sting's tongue-in-cheek, hands-up shrug when he sang the line "You consider me the young apprentice..." seemed to sum up the band's comeback in general: They're not young anymore and their vibe reflects that to some extent (which it should - I think there's nothing sadder than old rockers trying to act like they're still 20-something punks); they're three seasoned solo artists juggling the complex dynamics of being a symbiotic band again; and they're still working out the best ways to infuse a vintage catalog of songs with fresh perspective. Musical purists, and fans who want an exact rendition of the old songs without creative interpretation, will unfailingly find something to bitch about... But the upshot is simply that, against all odds, The Police are back - they're amazing musicians no matter what direction they take the music, and they sound as awesome together now as they did two decades ago.
For their fans, it's a dream come true. I never dreamed I'd get to see The Police play live, and leaving the Coliseum, I had this odd feeling of satisfaction, as if I'd ticked off a life goal I didn't even realize was on the list. Had I but tickets enough and time to see them again... *sigh*