The Police are combing the area for clues....
On Thursday July 19th , I joined 45, 000 other gleeful music fans at the Phillies' home field in South Philadelphia to welcome Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland and Gordon Sumner back to our neck of the woods. (Despite the predictions, it didn't rain.)
What makes the Police a distinctive band worthy of our consideration?
Let’s start with Sting’s songwriting. It’s good. It’s damn good. From a song craft perspective, a song like “Wrapped Around Your Finger” could be a template for designing an artful pop tune.
His lyrics are also often quite compelling. ( although as we all know he does have a penchant for the syllables “EEYOO”). I think he is at his best when probing the dingy acherontic corners of the human psyche using bright, irresistible melodies as a flashlight. (As in Synchronicity 2 or Every Breath You Take). There is also that innate ability to tap our collective consciousness. Don’t each of us have a “Message In A Bottle”? Sting is a marvelous vocalist and tight bassist.
I am hoping He will record some new material after the tour with Andy and Stewart as they really make his music take on a unique stylistic shape and property. The whole of The Police, like most charismatic influential bands, is greater than the sum of it's parts.
Next there is the informed rhythmic sensibility of percussionist Stewart Copeland.
Blending Jazz, Rock, and copious amounts of Ska with classically conversant battery.
By the end of the first phrase of percussion, you know it’s him. His style is that distinctive. Stewart guests on Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain“. Listen to the 2 bars of hi hat at the start of the song. You know immediately it is Mr. Copeland’s hi hat.
Stewart Copeland largely rejected his pop music past when the Police ceased touring in 1984 to pursue a career as a composer, authoring a prolific series of film scores, operas, and ballets. He and singer Stanard Ridgeway (Wall of Voodoo) earned a Golden Globe nomination for his score to Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish (do you recall the excellent song “Don‘t Box Me In?). In 1985 he released The Rhythmatist, inspired by his musical pilgrimage to Africa. His abilities as film scorer produced an ever-increasing number of projects including a pair of Oliver Stone features, Wall Street and Talk Radio, in addition to acclaimed projects like Ken Loach's Raining Stones, Four Days in September and West Beirut as well as many more mainstream Hollywood productions. Copeland's other work includes a stint with the pop-fusion trio Animal Logic as well as authoring the San Francisco Ballet's King Lear, the Cleveland Opera's Holy Blood and Crescent Moon, and Ballet Oklahoma's Prey. Born July 16, 1952 in Alexandria, Egypt, Copeland was the son of a CIA agent. He spent his formative years in the Middle East but attended college in California before settling in England in 1975 where he began playing drums with the progressive rock band Curved Air before forming the Police.
Stewart was featured at the Modern Drummer Festival in 2006.
Last but assuredly not least, The formidable guitar talents of Andy Summers. Andy pioneered a style that incorporated heavily chorused sound , syncopation and the use of delay as a rhythmic component. ( An inestimable influence on the Edge’s U2 approach and myriads of others). His work with the Police is highly stylized with unorthodox chord voicing and the use of quartal harmony that would be more at home in McCoy Tyner’s jazz piano styling than a major Rock- Pop-Ska band. He began his recording career in the 1960s as the guitarist for Zoot Money's Big Roll Band playing regularly at the Flamingo, a Soho London club renowned for its wild all-nighters. Andy provided guitar for Dantalian's Chariot, Soft Machine, Eric Burdon and the New Animals, and spent much of the 1970s doing prolific session work for Neil Sedaka, Joan Armatrading, Kevin Ayers, Kevin Coyne, Tim Rose, and Jon Lord. He was considered for Mick Taylor's replacement as lead guitarist for The Rolling Stones. (Ron Wood was chosen instead). Summers's guitar playing defined much of the Police sound. Summers' own songs for the Police, such as "Omegaman" and "Mother", Though not “hits“ were some of my favorites. (His instrumental "Behind My Camel" won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental in 1980). Summers' style is illustrious in its depth of sound. He was an early adopter of Roland guitar synthesizer technology. Yet in recent years, has favored a less effected sound. Andy’s diverse musical credits include many film scores:
1984 - 'Wild Life'
1985 - 'Band Of The Hand'
1986 - '2010'
1987 - 'Down & Out In Beverly Hills'
1988 - 'End of the Line'
1989 - 'Weekend At Bernie's'
1990 - 'Deceived'
1991 - 'Motorama'
1992 - 'Another You'
1993 - 'Mississippi Masala'
Andy’s recordings outside the Police are an absolute delight with bits of ambient and improvisatory work in the mix. These efforts resonate with the spirit of invention- embracing jazz, classical and world music. He reveals himself as an artist capable of transcending conventions, even the ones he himself created. Any self respecting guitarist must have a few of if not all of them in their collection. I recommend them all.
‘I Advance Masked’ and ‘Bewitched’ are 2 of my favorites. Both recordings are collaborations with Robert Fripp. Here is the Discography.
ANDY SUMMERS SOLO ALBUMS
'I Advance Masked' (w/ Robert Fripp)
'Bewitched' (w/ Robert Fripp)
'The Golden Wire'
'World Gone Strange'
'Invisible Threads' (w/John Etheridge)
'The Last Dance Of Mr X'
'Retrospective - Best Of'
'Strings Of Desire' (w/Victor Biglione)
‘Peggy’s Blue Skylight’
“Earth & Sky”
“The X Tracks”
‘Splendid Brazil’ (w/Victor Biglione) Soon to be released
‘First You Build A Cloud’ (w Classical Guitarist Benjamin Verdery) Soon to be released
Peggy’s Blue Skylight is entirely populated by Charles Mingus tunes. While Green Chimneys is a collection of Theolonius Monk compositions. From the liner notes:
I was sixteen when I first heard Monk's music. It knocked me out, got under my skin. It was jazz but it was something else, African - magical- cubist - primitive - Monk's world. At the time I was listening hard to "Monk at the Town Hall" A friend loaned me his copy, I loved it and spent many hours hunched over a Dansette trying to get my teenage fingers around those tunes. Monk came to England, I had to see him play. It was six hours on a cold train to London. I wasn't disappointed, he played solo piano, sandwiched between Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge. Monk took the music to another place altogether. His playing hit me in the gut - it was the essence, the distillation of jazz and the American life. A black and white movie. I couldn't talk about it then, only sense it - feel it. I have always loved Monk and his music, he created his own universe, one that has not only stood the test of time, but also been a wonderful inspiration. Thanks Monk!
Andy appears on these recordings as well.
1971 - 'Love Is' (Eric Burdon & the Animals)
1983 - 'Eric Burdon And The Animals'
2004 – ‘Absolute Animals 1964-1968’ Compilation
1975 – Eberhard Schoener ‘Video Magic’
1976 – Eberhard Schoener ‘Flashback’’
1976 - David Bedford 'The Odyssey'
1976 - Tim Rose 'Tim Rose'
1976 – Jon Lord ‘Sarabande’
1987 - Sting '...Nothing Like The Sun'
1989 - Michael Schrieve 'Stiletto'
1991 – Toni Childs ‘House Of Hope’
1992 – Paolo Rustichelli ‘Capri’
1995 – The Pan African Orchestra’ Opus 1 (Producer)
1996 - Various Artists 'Twang!'
1998 - Various Artists 'Outlandos D'America'
1998 – Gregg Bissonette ‘Gregg Bissonette’
2000 – Various Artists’ As Long As You’re Living Yours: The Music Of Keith Jarrett
2001 – Manuel Barrueco – ‘Nylon & Steel’
John Etheridge, Vinnie Colaiuta, Robert Fripp, Herbie Hancock, Brian Auger, Eliane Elias, Tony Levin, Ginger Baker, Deborah Harry, Q-Tip, and Sting, among others appear on Andy‘s albums.
The Police are looking into it.
By now it’s apparent that I appreciate and respect the talents of the members of this band.
So it was a thrill to see them work together once again. They did not disappoint. The show opened with the support band “Fiction Plane” who I heard for the first time and thought were very impressive. Fiction Plane lead singer Joe Sumner ( Yes, Sting’s son) sounds quite a bit like his dad. They performed songs from their new CD "Left Side of the Brain". I particularly enjoyed “ Everybody Lies” and “Two Sisters“. They were followed by the Scottish trio the Fratellis who were also an engaging opening act. It seems few in the open-air stadium had heard Costello Music, but songs like "Henrietta" and "Whistle for the Choir" were received quite well. Kudos to whoever it was that chose these bands to support the Police. Their music was really quite enjoyable and relative to the main act.
The concert began with a recording of Bob Marley singing “Get Up Stand Up” which incited the entire stadium to rise from their seats before a single note had actually been played . Then without a hemidemisemiquaver of delay the Stewart Copeland sounded a Gong and Andy Summers launched “Message In A Bottle”. The sound was clean and uncluttered if perhaps a tad bass heavy but with firm roots in Ska and Reggae this was perhaps not inappropriate.
I have read numerous reviews of various shows on the tour and reviewers seem to be obliged to comment on the liberties taken with arrangements of the songs. I am obliged to comment on their comments. If what the musicians were attempting to do was recreate their recordings from 28 years ago and failed, you’d have a point (but the hat covers it up). Instead what we have is a band that have grown as musicians willing to take a fresh look at their catalog and interpret the music in the moment. I’m no fan of excessive meaningless doodling around I assure you, but I really enjoyed the expanded takes on these songs that both proved they were far more than mere nostalgia and gave everyone a chance to shine. We have been discussing music history in the last couple articles and the observation could be made that most major movements in art and music are reactions to prevailing conventions. Generally speaking, there was an unwritten law that since 1980 that only heretics would play solos in rock or pop music. This was a reaction to the endless noodling that pervaded rock music in the 1970s’s.
The Police were very much a part of this movement away from solos and extemporization. Since then, improvisatory rock has all but disappeared and so have the players who are capable of lending any legitimacy to playing such music. Avoiding solos is no longer a reaction but has become a convention itself to be reacted to. I for one, always enjoy the shimmering, spiky, somewhat obtuse guitar work of Andy Summers and was thrilled to hear more of it. The band showed no sign of weakness in Philadelphia. They were energized, in a practiced, sharply professional fashion.
A nonstop, roughly 2 hour explosion of uplifting music, including 3 encores ensued.
The standouts for me were the expanded “Walking In Your Footsteps”, The new arrangement of “Wrapped Around Your Finger” (both of which featured Copeland’s remarkable use of sundry percussion and tympani) , Andy’s heroic jazz tinged spiked solo in "So Lonely," "Can't Stand Losing You," "Walking on the Moon," "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," “Synchronicity ll” … well to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening. Songs were stretched and compressed, broken apart and put back together, without sacrificing the simple, melodic effectiveness of the original incarnation.
Criticisms? Only minor ones. A few spots where the melodies were out of Sting’s mature range he made no effort to sing the parts, letting the “only too happy to oblige” audience sing the parts instead which was actually fun. In his defense, the uppermost notes of his voice were the only thing lacking and as we grow older most people lose that extreme high register of their voice. ( Sting is 56, Stewart is 55, and Andy is 65 -though to see him leap off the drum riser you would not know it!) I only noticed this a couple times. His powerful vocal performance generally was top notch and his formidable skills as an entertainer were on full display. His bass playing was full, rubbery, and spot on. Sting joked about the band's ancient origins, saying that its debut album, Outlandos d'Amour, came out in 1878. He also recalled playing the renown Philadelphia South Street club "Grendel's Lair" to an audience of 3. (A place that I too played around the same time. I'm pretty sure more than 3 people showed up, maybe 23, but 50 was a full house!) I would have liked to have heard “Mother,” and “Miss Gredenko” but I could have heard every tune they ever recorded. I suppose the show , and the article, must end sometime.
Check the remaining dates of the tour here.
Should you go?
I don't see how you could be disappointed.
United States and Canada Tour
Date City Venue
May 27, 2007 Vancouver, BC, Canada General Motors Place
May 28, 2007 Vancouver. BC, Canada General Motors Place
May 30, 2007 Vancouver, BC, Canada General Motors Place
June 2, 2007 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Commonwealth Stadium
June 6, 2007 Seattle, WA, United States KeyArena
June 7, 2007 Seattle, WA, United States KeyArena
June 9, 2007 Denver, CO, United States Pepsi Center
June 10, 2007 Denver, CO, United Staes Pepsi Center
June 13, 2007 Oakland, CA, United States McAfee Coliseum
June 15, 2007 Las Vegas, NV, United States MGM Grand Garden Arena
June 16, 2007 Manchester TN, United States Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
June 18, 2007 Phoenix, AZ, United States US Airways Center
June 20, 2007 Los Angeles, CA, United States Staples Center
June 21, 2007 Anaheim, CA, United States Honda Center
June 23, 2007 Los Angeles, CA, United States Dodger Stadium
June 26, 2007 Dallas, TX, United States American Airlines Center
June 27, 2007 Dallas, TX, United States American Airlines Center
June 29, 2007 Houston, TX, United States Toyota Center
June 30, 2007 New Orleans, LA, United States New Orleans Arena
July 2, 2007 St. Louis, MO, United States Scottrade Center
July 3, 2007 St. Paul, MN, United States Xcel Energy Center
July 5, 2007 Chicago, IL, United States Wrigley Field
July 6, 2007 Chicago, IL, United States Wrigley Field
July 7, 2007 East Rutherford, NJ, United States Giants Stadium (Live Earth concert)
July 10, 2007 Miami Gardens, FL, United States Dolphin Stadium
July 11, 2007 Tampa, FL, United States St. Pete Times Forum
July 14, 2007 Louisville, KY, United States Churchill Downs
July 16, 2007 Cleveland, OH, United States Quicken Loans Arena
July 17, 2007 Auburn Hills, MI, United States Palace of Auburn Hills
July 19, 2007 Philadelphia, PA, United States Citizens Bank Park
July 20, 2007 Hershey, PA, United States Hersheypark Stadium
July 22, 2007 Toronto, ON, Canada Air Canada Centre
July 23, 2007 Toronto, ON, Canada Air Canada Centre
July 25, 2007 Montreal, QC, Canada Bell Centre
July 26, 2007 Montreal, QC, Canada Bell Centre
July 28, 2007 Boston, MA, United States Fenway Park
July 29, 2007 Boston, MA, United States Fenway Park
July 31, 2007 East Hartford, CT, United States Rentschler Field
August 1, 2007 New York City, NY, United States Madison Square Garden
August 3, 2007 New York City, NY, United States Madison Square Garden
August 4, 2007 Baltimore, MD, United States Pimlico Race Course
August 5, 2007 East Rutherford, NJ, United States Giants Stadium
August 29, 2007 Stockholm, Sweden Globe Arena
August 30, 2007 Stockholm, Sweden Globe Arena
September 1, 2007 Aarhus, Denmark Vestereng
September 4, 2007 Birmingham, England National Indoor Arena
September 5, 2007 Birmingham, England National Indoor Arena
September 8, 2007 Twickenham, England Twickenham Stadium
September 9, 2007 Twickenham, England Twickenham Stadium
September 11, 2007 Hamburg, Germany HSH Nordbank Arena
September 13, 2007 Amsterdam, Netherlands Amsterdam ArenA
September 14, 2007 Amsterdam, Netherlands Amsterdam ArenA
September 16, 2007 Geneva, Switzerland Stade de Genève
September 19, 2007 Vienna, Austria Stadthalle
September 22, 2007 Munich, Germany Olympiastadion
September 25, 2007 Lisbon, Portugal Estádio Nacional
September 27, 2007 Barcelona, Spain Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys
September 29, 2007 Paris, France Stade de France
September 30, 2007 Paris, France Stade de France
October 02, 2007 Turin, Italy Stadio Delle Alpi
October 06, 2007 Dublin, Ireland Croke Park
October 08, 2007 Antwerp, Belgium Sportpaleis
October 09, 2007 Antwerp, Belgium Sportpaleis
October 10, 2007 Mannheim, Germany SAP Arena
October 13, 2007 Dusseldorf, Germany LTU Arena
October 15, 2007 Manchester, England MEN Arena
October 16, 2007 Manchester, England MEN Arena
October 19, 2007 Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium
More North American Dates
October 31, 2007 New York City, NY, United States Madison Square Garden
November 3, 2007 Atlantic City, NJ, United States Boardwalk Hall
November 8, 2007 Toronto, ON, Canada Air Canada Centre
November 11, 2007 Boston, MA, United States TD Banknorth Garden
November 17, 2007 Atlanta, GA, United States Philips Arena
November 24, 2007 Mexico City, Mexico Foro Sol
South American Dates
Date City Venue
December 1, 2007 Buenos Aires, Argentina River Plate Stadium
December 2, 2007 Buenos Aires, Argentina River Plate Stadium
December 8?, 2007 Santiago, Chile Estadio Nacional
New Zealand, Australia dates
Date City Venue
January 17, 2008 Wellington, New Zealand Westpac Stadium
January 19, 2008 Auckland, New Zealand Western Springs
January 22, 2008 Brisbane, Australia Suncorp Stadium
January 24, 2008 Sydney, Australia Telstra Stadium
January 26, 2008 Melbourne, Australia Melbourne Cricket Ground
January 28, 2008 Adelaide, Australia AAMI Stadium
February 1, 2008 Perth, Australia Members Equity Stadium
Every Breath You Take
This beautifully crafted pop song was written in 1 Hour according to Sting.
The memorable film noir video was produced and directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.
As a reward for reading the entire article I give you the:
THINGS NOT TO SAY TO THE POLICE
* I can't reach my license unless you hold my beer.
* Sorry, Officer. I didn't realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in.
* Aren't you that guy from the Village People?
* Hey, you must have been doin' at least 120 mph to keep up with me. Good job!
* I thought you had to be in relatively good physical condition to be a cop.
* I almost decided to be a cop, but I decided to finish high school instead.
* You're not gonna check the trunk, are you?
* Didn't I see you get your ass kicked on COPS?
* Is it true that people become cops because they're too dumb to work at McDonald's?
* I was just trying to keep up with traffic. Yes, I know there are no other cars around-that's how far ahead of me they are.
* No, I don't know how fast I was going. The little needle stops at 110 mph.
* Want to race to the station, Sparky?
* On the way to the station let's get a six pack.
* You'll never get those cuffs on me you clown!
* Come on write the damn ticket, the bars close in 20 minutes!
* Hey, wasn't your daughter a porn star?
* How long is this going to take? Your wife is expecting me.
* I know I was weaving, but I can't find the Bat Cave entrance!
But the number one thing that you shouldn’t say to the police is….
* Back off, Barney, I've got a piece.