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Concert Review: You Have the Right to Remain Silent – The Police at Oakland 6/13/07

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Sometime in 1980s (or thereabouts), I heard 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' for the first time. It was on my father's Sony stereo system, which was covered with a custom-made plastic case and occupied an exalted position on his bedroom shelf. I had just been given "stereo privileges" which meant that my father considered me old enough to use it, and was confident I wouldn't set it on fire. No fires were caused in listening to the song, but the upbeat mood and catchy tune hooked me. From that point on I considered myself a Police (and Sting) fan.

When I heard they were going to be touring again after a twenty-four year hiatus, it was a no-brainer. I had to go. So I awoke one morning in late February (when they went on sale), logged into Ticketmaster and bought tickets to their show at the McAfee Coliseum in Oakland on June 13th. The show sold out in a less than two hours.

Opening Band
The Opening Band

We got to the venue naïvely at 6:30pm, like it said on the ticket. Now, we weren't aware of the existence of warm-up acts. After hanging around for about an hour, we were inundated for another hour with something that sounded like a dial-up modem logging on to a network, except a few thousand decibels louder. As it turned out, this was the opening band – Fiction Plane – led by Sting, Jr. a.k.a. Joe Sumner. Clearly, something went awry with the genetics there. When they stopped playing, one guy in the audience clapped. He narrowly escaped for his life as fellow concert-goers attacked him with their soft drinks and hot dogs. I exaggerate, of course, but it suffices to say that there were no long lines to buy their CD.

 

Police Concert 1
Wrapped Around Your Finger

At around 9pm, the Police (finally!) got off to a rocking start with "Message in a Bottle". A good, strong opening which was jazzed up with a stronger beat from its album version. In fact, several of the songs were literally "jazzed up" from their original versions – probably an influence of Summers technical brilliance and Sting's foray into jazz since the split. For instance, "Wrapped Around Your Finger" had an extended percussion intro which really brought on the mood.

I should mention that Copeland was making full use of his extended percussion kit throughout the show. In "Walking on the Moon" (a personal favorite), Sting did a pan-flute solo. It wasn't great, but it worked. "De Do Do Do…" was funky as always and hit the spot. On the other hand, "Every Breath You Take" – which had its last breath taken away from it several years ago, from being overplayed and over-covered by other musicians – fell flat.

All songs were longer than the album versions from the eighties – and this was not necessarily bad. Also, while normally the three have a backing band which plays the horns and additional guitars, on this tour all backing parts were written out – it was only the three of them performing on stage.

 

Police Concert 2
Invisible Sun

Ultimately, the concert was too short. They left after less than an hour of playing, and had to be drawn out thrice. Call me cheap, but paying over a hundred dollars for the ticket should be enough to have the band play two sets lasting forty-five minutes each (at least) plus one encore, if things are going well. The total playing time for this concert was under an hour and fifteen minutes, and that included all the time spent clapping to get them back on stage.

Also, from a practical perspective, the stadium was not well-equipped to handle a concert like this. First off, there were only three screens – two on each side of the stage, positioned for best viewing by only the audience facing the stage, and one behind the band. Since we were at an angle, we could see only one screen, and that too, barely. Secondly, the acoustics were suboptimal, with there being quite a bit of echo (and therefore, distortion) in the stadium seats. A better venue for this sort of thing is the Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Overall, although it was great to see them perform live, the concert was a tad disappointing. There was a fair amount of experimentation and deviation from the original recordings. And like with all experimentation it was high-risk. Which means that when it worked, it really rocked. But when it didn't work, it really stank. The bad songs, the short performance and the issues with the venue definitely were a downer. That said though, it was the Police after all, and they did rock, even if it was only for some of the time.

 

Picture source

Goodnight
Good Night (no, really!)

Setlist
Message in a Bottle*
Synchronicity II*
Don’t Stand So Close to Me*
Voices in My Head / When the World Is Running Down
Spirits in the Material World*
Driven to Tears
Walking on the Moon*
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic*
Wrapped Around Your Finger*
The Bed’s Too Big Without You
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da*
Invisible Sun*
Walking in Your Footsteps
Can’t Stand Losing You*

Encore 1
Roxanne*
King of Pain*

Encore 2
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take

Encore 3
Next to You

*These songs really rocked. The rest ran the spectrum from Could you hurry this up, please? to Hm…it's ok.

 

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About The Great Ganesha

  • d alper

    I am eager to see the Police when they come around the East Coast and have read the mixed reviews. They deserve a good listen, unfortunately this may be a one off affair (see, Cream) and therefore they need to maximize efficiency by allowing as many fans an opportunity to hear them live as possible, ergo-crappy venues to showcase their tunes. I really like their set list, they did put some thought into it, would dig hearing ‘Canary’ though, and interested in seeing how these three channel the much hyped inner tension into a coherent, energy filled show, thanks for the review.

  • http://greatganesha.wordpress.com The Great Ganesha

    yeah – setlist is pretty cool. and it looks like it’s more or less the same at most of the shows. don’t want to disappoint, but i don’t think they’ve played ‘canary’ at all.

    and i understand re. the venue.

    the bottomline is, if you’re a fan, you’re going to go anyway…