Police at the Rock Garden...
A triangle is a pleasing enough shape but it has strict limitations. As in geometry, so in art - the musical triangle of the The Police confirms the theory.
I imagine many would claim exception - The Jam, probably and the Hendrix Experience - but three piece bands seem to shape almost mathematically exact limitations.
The main shortcoming is that of the law of expending interest i.e. the smaller the band the more uniform their material becomes, straight-jacketed by the instrumental confines of bass, drums and guitar.
The Police, typically, have a respectable quantity of nondescript pop cum punk material, raised about the leval of the crass only by front man Sting's powerful and sweet voice and striking bone structure.
Sting, unfortunately, is dragged through musical murk, by a haphazard and uninteresting instrumental frame. In other words, the voice is willing but the material is weak.
In sixty seconds of audience fidgeting and raised eyebrows, he managed to imitate both Bryan Ferry and Peter Gabriel with a monologue - about an inflatable doll - so laboured it was uncomfortable to listen to.
But when you look past the filler material and the half-hearted vaudeville of the band, there is genuine talent 'Roxanne', with sub-reggae beat and wistful vocal, still qualifies as one of the best singles so far this year.
Otherwise, The Police would be wise to look to their songsheets instead of their guitars. The potential is here, if only in one corner of the triangle: but it needs more that one good song for it to be realised.
© Record Mirror by Tim Lott
Image courtesy of Dietmar & Raphael