The Police at Wembley...
The meteoric rise of the Police has not occurred without a few questions being asked. While revealing themselves as masters of the pop single, for example, their albums have shown an inconsistency which has cast doubts on their ability to write in depth. These doubts are exacerbated by the recurring images of singer Sting as the rock world's beefcake, and lingering suspicions that underneath it all they really are just a vehicle for his great ambitions. Certainly, he has been responsible for tugging the group away from the scrambled-egg "white reggae" rhythms of their early hits towards the more complex, electronic sound and the socio-political concerns of their current album 'Ghost In The Machine'.
The real surprise of this performance was just how successfully the group translated this new material from record onto the stage. Rhythmically, the new songs are looser and more fragmented, with a greater use of space and atmosphere which was considerable enhanced by the sheer scale of the group's sound on stage, and the intelligent addition of a three-piece brass section, adding urgent musical punctuation in a manner which suggested that the group are now working as much under a soul as a reggae influence.
The architect of all this may be Sting, but the real fulcrum of the group's performance is guitarist Andy Summers, whose majestic, sombre chording sets the mood of songs like 'When The World Is Running Down' and puts bright finish on the more obvious melodies like 'Every Little Thing'.
The imaginative risk-taking which now informs the group's work was nowhere more in evidence than in 'Invisible Sun', a powerful song performed against a highly evocative film showing the grey dereliction and social misery of Northern Ireland; it suppressed suspicions one may have had about using deprivation and violence as a handy theatrical device. The Police have finally found some substance to support their Croesus-like veneer.
© The Guardian by Mick Brown