Trying To Get To You

Monday, June 25, 2007

(Not) Missing The Police

I won’t be going to see the Police. And to be honest, even beyond the outrageous ticket prices, I’m not particularly interested in seeing them. Sure, I grew up with them, and like everyone else in the summer of 1983, I loved “Every Breath You Take,” along with some of their greatest hits and a few album tracks. But for me, they never quite reached the upper echelon of rock greats. I always found something missing in their music, namely an emotional depth and resonance as well as a willingness to go beyond their own intelligence to reach something primal. (“Every Breath You Take” is the great exception to this – it’s when Sting went beyond his own pretentions to get real with what a nasty bastard he is.)

The one time I saw them live was at the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope tour at Giants Stadium in 1986. U2 proceeded them, and absolutely killed, playing a titanic show. (It was the show, along with Live Aid the previous year that clued everyone in who was there that U2-mania would soon be upon us.) So when the Police followed by playing an extremely polite version of several greatest hits, I, along with most of the stadium, was immensely underwhelmed. I was so unimpressed with their set that I didn’t listen to them for a few years after that show. (Ironically, I really enjoyed Sting’s 1988 tour supporting Nothing Like The Sun.)

So when I got a copy of last weeks show at the Staples Center in L.A., I listened out of curiosity. Would this be a band staking a claim for themselves as one of the all-greats, or would they be just another nostalgia cash in? I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Listening to the show, what I sense is of is an incredibly competent group of professionals playing for the fun and challenge of it, with the desire to give the audience a nice evening out and to reconnect with one another. That may be enough for the people attending, but it’s not enough to make me care, and in listening to the show, I feel confirmed in my belief that I’m not missing a thing.

Oh, and in retrospect, I realize that the thing that was missing from the Police’s music was soul.

Download: “Message In A Bottle” (6/20/07, Los Angeles, CA)
Download: “Invisible Sun” (6/20/07, Los Angeles, CA)
Download: “King Of Pain” (6/20/07, Los Angeles, CA)
Download: “So Lonely” (6/20/07, Los Angeles, CA)


Anonymous said...

Very well put. I, too, have never quite gotten the love people seem to have for the Police, and you've nailed the reason why here: no soul. They can write a catchy tune, they can play it competently, but you never get the sense that they feel anything while they're doing it. "King of Pain" a fine example. You'd think someone who calls himself "king of pain" would actually seem to be in pain, but Sting can't sell it. In the end, the Police are almost entirely empty of emotion. Why would one make music in the first place if one feels nothing?

As for the reunion tour, it's not like they were an awesomely talented live act to begin with, or that there are thousands of people walking around slapping themselves on the forehead every day and cursing fate for having missed the Police play live in the 80s. So what's the point? This: You can't blame them for wanting to make a zillion dollars for a few months' work.

Keep up the good work over here. I enjoy reading your stuff.

Anonymous said...

The Police don't move me either.

I was given the choice to see either a Police or Genesis reunion show this year. I'd seen both in their heyday. I love rock and am not a big prog fan. I picked Genesis and can't really tell you why.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm not the only one--good. I was a big Police fan back in the day also. I saw them three times and they are a good band. They started out pretend punk when they weren't punk at all. Sting is a smart guy but he is pretentious as hell. In 1983 they had completely quit trying and raced through the songs as quickly as possible with no recognition of the 20,000 people in the arena. I will not see them even though they are coming to my town on this tour and I am their target audience. Oh well, I'd rather remember them from 1981--not 1983 and certainly not 2007.

Anonymous said...

All this talk is so frickin' stupid. Yes the reunion kinda sucks but hell, no soul? The police were a smokin' live band that sounded like no other. So go back to your Spoon mp3s and shut the fuck up!

Ben Lazar said...

I'm not that into Spoon.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not that into Spoon." - That's funny!
I am into Spoon, but not that into seeing the Police. Now if Led Zeppelin reunites...

Anonymous said...

Whatever....the fact have this Police show, you've listened to it, posted your highlights, and then slammed them. Now THAT'S..funny!