|Tour||The 'Synchronicity' years 1983/84|
SYRACUSE, NY: Carrier Dome
'Police' Put on Best Dome Show...
The world's top rock band Saturday put on the best show ever staged at the Carrier Dome. Opening act MTV Music Television didn't do so badly either.
The Police breathe the thin, heady air at the top of Pop Mountain; before them arrived such acts as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis and The Who. None of those remain there, having either expired or just slipped off.
The Police are on top because of great music, great playing and frontman Sting's showmanship - three great assets, but not enough to put a band on top. What put this band in its place is the lyrical content of the music.
To reach the top a band must project a great big fat world view, an eschatological shtick that promises revelations beyond whether a song is good to dance to.
Sting's lyrics speak of love, pain, loss, tolerance, and of seemingly random events which are, in fact, connected in mysterious ways, perhaps initiated by God - synchronicity. Big picture stuff.
And you can dance to it.
Bassist/singer Sting, drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers performed magnificently 20 songs from five albums, reaching back to their early songs ('Sending Out an SOS', 'Message In A Bottle') reggae touched numbers ('Roxanne', 'One World Not Three') and working through their big hits of 1983 ('King Of Pain', Every Breath You Take', 'Murder By Numbers').
A great concert: Missing the band at this stage of development would be like missing the Stones in '72 or having ignored the Beatles.
The Police rolled out all this Saturday before 41,500 people who pretty much understand what the band is about.
I'm not sure they understand that brief opening act... MTV.
MTV is not a band. It's a cable television channel that airs brief videos of mostly white pop stars and their music. Some of the videos are good; some bad, just like popular music.
MTV sponsored the Police concert and MTV video cameras watched the act and gave folks in the distant corners of the dome a view of the action on a big screen above the stage. MTV vee-jay Martha Quinn was there to introduce a tape of MTV programming to keep everyone grooving while roadies prepared the stage for the Police.
The overhead screen came to life with the MTV logo and theme and the crowd burst with pleasure! Vee-jay Quinn, she of small voice and whizzy video-enthusiasm, stepped to the microphone and burbled something about MTV presenting the Police to Syracuse.
Martha got a nice big hand. MTV's got a lot of friends in this town. The big boys at Warner-Amex, though perhaps not themselves fans of the Police or Carl Jung or rock music, would be pleased.
MTV is big, big business. It sells stuff to the 14-34 year old market by pretending that MTV itself is part of some hip youth culture, a 1980's successor to free-form FM radio of the 1960s.
Of course it's not. It's not like the '60s FM at all: It's a lot like '60s deejay Murray "The K" shrewdly improving his share of the New York radio market by baptizing himself 'The Fifth Beatle' during the Beatlemania frenzy. The MTV programming between the videos is just a clever corporate put-on pretending to be mass culture. The purpose of MTV is to sell air time to commercial advertisers.
MTV operates like the new Apple computer commercial where a vast gathering of dusty droogs sits passively watching a huge video image of Big Brother totalitarian rhetoric. Suddenly a woman athlete runs into the hall and hurls a hammer at the screen, smashing it.
MTV is just like that, except no one throws a hammer.