Police don't cop out at the Whisky...
The Police are very good cops: tough, intelligent, efficient, cagey.
They're also the sort of boys the real cops would immediately run in on suspicion: tough, intelligent, loud, disruptive. The Police are a trio - two Britons, one American - and on Saturday night they closed out their three-day stay at the Whisky with a bang, and not a few screeching Police whistles from the crowd.
The Police play thick, direct rock and roll and achieve a density of sound all the more entrancing for its emanation from only three players. Guitarist Andy Summers lays out a multitude of utilitarian chords, and drummer Stewart Copeland maintains a flurry of precise beating. Most, uh, arresting is the lead singer-bassist, named simply Sting: tall, muscular, strikingly handsome, Sting sings in a high voice that has made its peace with hoarseness - it sounds as if Sting has sandpapered his larynx down to a pitch of fine, flat delicacy.
For all their precision, the Police make a rough, dramatic music that uses pop riffs for structure but which often uses reggae to make its most thrilling points. Again and again at the Whisky the band would fire into a number, most of them from their debut American album 'Outlandos d'Amour', only to cool down into a reggae digression ot a hard-rock epiphany half-way through. Most of the time, this effect worked extremely well, with the contrast in genres increasing the tension.
The happiest example of this came during their performance of 'Roxanne', which as a single with a lilting, magnetic chorus, is making a decent assault upon American charts. Rather than plug their semi-hit by playing it straight though, the Police constructed a melancholy reggae detour that perfectly complemented the adolescent ache of the song's original pop melody.
A number of the songs on 'Outlandos d'Amour' seem to go on a verse or two too long - the riffs don't sustain the verbiage. At the Whisky, however, the Police gave us lots of evidence that the expansiveness is, far from being self indulgent, due to a surfeit of brains and energy. Promotions are in order all around.
© The Los Angeles Herald Examiner by Ken Tucker