Police at Glasgow Apollo...
If The Cramps were any older they'd probably have been in Andy Warhol's films - one of them even looks like a fibreglass model of Joe Dallesandro with half of Human League vocalist Phil Oakey's hairstyle in aluminium dye. Instead they started a group. You also get a post-Nico, vacant blonde and a singer who like to slink around like a half-reptile vampire slave with epilepsy. Punkability voodoo, the punk is New York attitude and mainly visual; the ability is the music - see the band, borrow the records; the voodoo is redolent of adverts for bat-shaped savoury snacks.
The Police had alerted the Apollo management that only the stalls would be needed for their gig. On the night, record numbers of people arrive to pay at the door and the concert is a sell-out, crowding even the upper balcony.
Unless this Glasgow audience is almost exclusively responsible for the modest, belated success of Roxanne and the album, The Police look like being the major surprise of 1979. Who would've thought a former Cherry Vanilla backing band would be the ones to save the the masses starved of standard rock?
Unfortunately, because of constant touring and Sting's involvement in films, there is an extreme shortage of new material. Which means they play a short show, only being stretched out to include meandering dub-like jamming, Sting wailing 'Yeah', 'Woh' or 'Rock Salmon' interminably. This manoeuvre is apparently a sincere attempt at creating new forms of music.
Considering the amount of music which evolved from blues they could easily succeed with reggae. But I suggest that they save it for rehearsals until it's good enough to stun the world. Meanwhile they'll probably do more to popularise reggae than Bob Marley. Despite that the Police are an exciting rock band. Their material may be better as 'numbers' than 'songs', but that just means they're great live and make good party records.
The crowd are on their feet from the start, cracking the balconies and singing along with nearly everything - even when Andy Summers does his Stanley Holloway routine and recites 'Sally'. The first three songs impressed me enormously, after that the jamming bores and slower songs intrude drearily in the name of pacing. Amidst those disappointments, the newish 'Message in A Bottle' stands out as comparable to the singles in quality. Assuming of course, that the dull parts are live padding.
The man responsible for The Police's wide appeal is the bass player, actor, teenage pin-up, songwriter and possessor of what is currently the best white reggae voice - Sting. He will be famous and successful for years and years, though not in a flamboyant way; steady and dependable like his music.
The Police are good, but despite their plans I can't believe they'll ever be better than that. Besides, America likes boogie bands.
© New Musical Express by Glenn Gibson