06.02.2007 - 2007-06-02 EDMONTON: Commonwealth Stadium / The Police delight 30,000 at Commonwealth Stadium...
The Police delight 30,000 at Commonwealth Stadium...
Apparently, at the Police's tour opener in Vancouver, Stewart Copeland came in on the three when he should've come in on the one and the entirety of Message in a Bottle was a half bar out of whack - something only musicians would notice.
According to his widely, though selectively reported blog entry titled "Our First Disaster Gig," the whole night was a litany of flubs, muffs, key confusion, missed cues and outright train wrecks.
Copeland wasn't pleased.
He ripped on himself, he ripped on his bandmates, calling Sting a momentary "petulant pansy," and stating that guitarist Andy Summers at one point was "in Idaho," which we assume is nowhere near Groovesville, although Copeland ended on an up note: at the end of the show "we fall into each other's arms laughing hysterically."
This incident illustrates two points:
1. They argued then. They argue now. But it's about music, not who snorted up all the cocaine.
2. They're human beings. They make mistakes. You want real people playing music with no fake junk or canned backing tracks - warts and all? You will get real people playing music with no fake junk or canned backing tracks. Warts and all.
Only musician wonks were counting the minor wrinkles and cacks last night. (165 in total). The important thing for most of the 30,000 fans in Commonwealth Stadium was the spontaneity, passion and energy these aging British rockers managed to bring across. This was no ordinary reunion tour done for the money. Who cares if Summer missed a cue in 'Synchronicity II' The crowd was too busing hollering out the "oh-oh-ohs," which turned out to be a mere warm-up for the "eyo-beeyo, eyo, eeyos" later on in Walking on the Moon.
Who cares if Copeland's double kick pedal routine in 'Voices Inside My Head' wasn't quite in the pocket? He really went for it. The song was the first time of the night the Police really rocked. You got the feeling they wanted to be mellower than they actually were in a stadium, but even through the bluster, there was room for subtlety and nuance. Who cares if the guitar synthesizer sounded a bit gimpy and awkward? Who, in fact, cares about mistakes in live music at all? It should at least remind us that these are human beings up there. And only three of them, too, don't forget that.
Well, as for Sting, he may actually be superhuman. He's been working at a fairly high level of live performance for quite some time, so that may be why his delivery was so confident and relaxed.
He made it look easy, do, do do, da, da, da, another day, another stadium. And he must have some sort of yogic, tantric vocal warm-up technique because his voice was just about in perfect form.
Few of the hits - and they did most of them - were exact copies of the original recordings. In an apparent effort to keep things fresh and help justify the high ticket prices, the Police toyed with arrangements, adding new chords, tempos and notes.
Some seemed like just for the sake of doing it, but others actually improved the originals, almost but not quite to the point where you'd have to play "guess that tune." Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on whether you like the director's cut of Star Wars better than the original. OK, bad example. But there were undoubtedly some purists out there jarred by the difference between their memory and real life. Few of the songs were too badly mangled except for 'Syncronicity II'.
For more than two hours they went at it, getting better with each song. In their own "zone," the wrinkles smoothed out and each of the lads pulled off various amazing feats of musicianship that would've been impossible in a state of fear of screwing up.
As Copeland himself wrote in that same much-discussed blog entry, "Screw it, it's only music."
Good attitude. In not caring what goes wrong, great things can be accomplished.
Just when you've forgotten about Sloan, they turn up in yet another opening gig for yet another might impressive band. Why? Persistence, I guess.
Greying around the edges, the venerable Canadian quartet warmed up the crowd with their trademark hodgepodge of CCR, Beatles, the Ramones or whatever other seminal band that formed their young minds back in the way. While they stomped it up a bit for the stadium crowd, it still sounded like Sloan - disparate influences easily heard in the aural equivalent of poorly mixed cookie dough. Mmm, cookie dough. Still, Other Man may be one of the best philandering rock songs ever written.
The frontman of opening band Fiction Plane is Sting's son, Joe Sumner, who may have inherited his father's streak of self-indulgence if not his gifts in songscraft and vocals.
Still, a few interesting - and Sting-like - moments emerged in this modern rock band, with the Son of Sting yelping out notes at the top of his range with all the passion he could muster.
A for effort.
© The Edmonton Sun by Mike Ross
Photo by Dave & Wendy