The Police have come a long way in a short time. Far enough to fill the Fox-Warfield with devoted fans, to cross over into the mainstream without pandering to popularity. Transatlantic success.
What once was a number of styles has fused into one, no jagged edges, intensity intact. Busy drums full of an urgent energy. Sting's reggae bass grounding the sound for the guitar to drive against. Andy Summers must be the most sophisticated guitar player in new rock, using guitar technology, not being used by it - filling all the corners with beats, pace, sound.
At the soundcheck, the Police jammed like a space jazz combo; they've become a completely controlled jamming outfit. Every number's expanded to its ultimate extension but never self-indulgently. No smiles, they're full of an almost Aryan confidence, rushing out, sirens at full muster.
And then there's Sting, loping from toe to toe, absolutely self-contained and confident, singing in that soaring voice. Full of an unrepentant loneliness. 'So Lonely', 'Hole In My Life', 'The Bed's Too Big Without You'. Energy and emptiness.
The Police know they're good; they proceed to demonstrate the fact. There's a cold ruthlessness in their attitude right now, a sense that they're unstoppable.
They play a good hour and a half, the old opener 'Next To You' then 'So Lonely' driving out and then slowing into that Police dub echo, their favorite movement. They perform virtually all their repertoire. Five numbers in, Sting explains that the seated theatre isn't a bingo hall and from then on the place is a mass of crushed dancers straining towards the stage. It's star quality, turns you into a butterfly straining to touch the light.
When the Police have played everything they've still got 'Roxanne' and 'Message' left. Then two encores. 'Be My Girl' with Andy Summers reciting the verses in imitation of a squirming schoolboy. They've got it all by the scruff of the neck - it's a pleasure to be arrested.
© Record Mirror by Mark Cooper (with thanks to Dietmar)