6.16.2008

"I've got a lump in my throat about the note you wrote."

popo.jpg

"Contact"
"Nothing Achieving"
"Canary in a Coalmine"
"I Burn for You"
"Synchronicity II" by THE POLICE:
On a whim, I caught The Police a few weeks ago on the Omaha stop of their reunion tour. I couldn't decide if I was excited to see the show. Something about it felt. . . obligatory. It didn't help matters that I had caught a post-Police Sting show in one of my earliest concert memories (he was touring for The Soul Cages), and little about that show sticks out for me today. At that point, his pretentiousness was rank, a victim of the classic "once cool guy who ages into complete douchebag" / Rod Stewart syndrome.

It doesn't hurt that Sting was backed by two dudes far more electrifying than he: drummer Stewart Copeland and guiartist Andy Summers (or Somers, if you prefer the true spelling). In Omaha a few weeks ago, these two guys proved why Sting's ego couldn't fit within these confines anymore; it was because he was the least talented guy in the band. I'm pretty sure it's a fact at this point that Copeland is one of the best drummers ever, and after seeing Summers play guitar in person, I'm fairly certain he should be considered among the best to play that instrument as well.

As the show neared I stared to listen to my Police albums. I remembered how many classic songs lay hidden away on those records. Weird numbers like "Contact," with it's droning bassline and spidery guitar. Certainly, they weren't going to play these songs at the show, but it was still a cool reminder that these guys were a lot weirder and cooler than their legacy might seem. I'm almost positive I've posted "Nothing Achieving" here before, but I had to drag it back out to prove to the kids that, at one time, Sting rocked. I held out hopes for hearing "Canary in a Coalmine," or even something slow like "I Burn for You" at the show, but neither made its way into the setlist.

I was most bummed by the omission of "Synchronicity II," a song I had noticed they'd been playing on this tour, and one of my favorite Police songs. Listening to it now reminded me of just how dark and bleak the majority of The Police's material is, especially the songs they somehow turned into hits. If anyone is truly the forebear for bands like Radiohead, a massively popular band without a sunny song to its name, it's The Police. "Roxanne" is about a guy who loves a prostitute begging her not to go out anymore. "Every Breath You Take" is about a stalker. Even the seemingly bubbly "Don't Stand So Close to Me" is the story of a teacher trying not to lust after one of his student's. Christ, these guys had a hit called "King of Pain"!

"Synchronicity II" is pretty much the ultimate bummer of a hit song. Full of family strife, suburban malaise, chemical destruction, suicide, the soul crushing nature of work. . . all thematically linked somehow to a creature crawling from a lake to destroy all in its path. It kind of baffles my mind to this day that a lyric like, "And every single meeting with his so-called superior IS A HUMILIATING KICK IN THE CROTCH!" is played daily on radio stations around the country. To go back to my Radiohead comparison, "Synchronicity II" was the "No Surprises" of it's day.

Ultimately, I was definitely glad I went to the show. Hell, the ticket price (approx. $58 with fees) alone was worth seeing Stewart Copeland work his madness. Having the incredible Elvis Costello as the opener didn't hurt one bit, either.


TUESDAYS WITH LIZZY!

"Just the Two of Us" by THIN LIZZY:
Another Tuesday, another Lizzy jam, as promised. This one is a b-side from the Black Rose album. That's all you need to know.


In other news tonight. . .

"S.F. Sorrow" by S.F. SEALS
"S.F. Sorrow is Born" by THE PRETTY THINGS:
Those paying close attention will know that I posted the original version of The Pretty Things' "S.F. Sorrow is Born" (presented again here tonight) a long time ago. I was pleased to have someone forward me the S.F. Seals' take on the track a few nights ago, as it's one of my favorite songs and has always seemed to me to be shamefully ignored. I really like the Seals' take on it, though they don't surpass the chugging psych-rock of the original. I have to give them points for taste, and credit for leaving no detail unexamined in their version.


"I Can Only Give You Everything" by THEM:
Man, Van Morrison had some pipes.


"D├ęcollage" by BALAYEURS DU DESERT:
I've had this one going on repeat for days now. Hypnotic.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I will grant you that Summers and Copeland were integral parts of the sound, but without Sting's songs, what the heck would they be playing? Summers' "Telephone is ringing/Is that my mother on the phone?" And Copeland wrote a few interesting pieces. But face it, the inspiration for that great guitar and drum playing you noted was Sting's compositions.

As a solo artist, Sting is probably a spent force. You were lucky to see what will likely be the last hurrah for both him and the band.

Dylan Gaughan said...

No doubt, I agree with you 100% Anon.

I didn't mean to make it sound like Sting was not a valuable member of that band. . . hell, I'm one of the dude's biggest defenders when it comes to his pre-"Fields of Gold" dreck.

I guess what I meant to get across was the fact that, as far as live performance goes, Copeland and Summers are incredible and sadly unheralded. Everyone seems to comment that these guys are lucky that Sting is including them in any kind of reunion. Financially, sure, but in my book, he needs them as much as they need him.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

The Police were IT back when I was in junior high and high school. I was luckiy enough to see them 4 times back then (and even saw Sting naked with his hair still tinted orange after filming DUNE, but that story is for another day), and was really excited about their reunion tour when it was announced last year...until I saw the ticket prices.$250... $100 for obstructed view behind the stage in an arena?! I decided to sit down and watch the DVD "Everyone Stares" and save my money for tickets to shows with new bands in small venues.

I do get sick to my stomach when I here people compare Vampire Weekend to The Police. The musicianship does not compare.
Thanks Dylan.
-Bill

Munk said...

Hey, Dylan,


Love the blog, but I have a question (favour?). I was digging around and I noticed back in '05 you did a 'The Guided by Voices 100' thing. Vol. 3 had Pantherz (dead link, went to taco-robot.com), which I assume means you have on hand their Jellyfish Reflector live boot with bonus tracks, yes? Is there any chance we could get you to upload that album? It's hard as hell to find with bonus tracks.


Pre-dated appreciation!