On July 23rd, 2007 I finally saw The Police live. I would say that the concert came after many years of anticipation but that would be utterly false; I never dreamed I would ever see The Police. I was into them (almost) every step of the way, though it wasn’t until I had matured considerably that I realized just how outstanding and unique the band was.
As a casual fan I said “no” when a classmate in grade 10 asked me if I wanted to go to the Police Picnic with him. This was back when I lived in Richmond Hill, just a short drive to where The Police had been hosting their annual one-day festival. For being such an idiot I missed seeing bands like The Specials, Iggy Pop, and of course The Police when they were smack-dab in the middle of their heyday.
For no good reason at all I had missed my chance, and when Synchronicity came out the enormity of my error started to sink in. I swore I’d go to the Police Picnic this time! but alas, that was the year they stopped doing them, and of course the band broke up shortly after.
I had seen Sting several times but he was no Police (driving force that he was) and I was super-excited when the lights went down in the Air Canada Centre. They started with Message In A Bottle and never looked back. Err, that is to say they only looked back; it’s not like they have any new songs or anything. Let’s just say if Police songs were people they’d all be well over Ontario’s legal drinking age.
Walking On The Moon, King Of Pain, Can’t Stand Losing You…they played hit after hit and reggae-rocked the faces off of the 20,000 or so of us in the room. Of course the biggest scream came when they played their first-ever hit song, Roxanne, a high-register on-the-beat reggae reversal featuring a clever descending chord progression and lamenting lyrics about being in love with a lady of the evening.
When you think about, the song was destined to fail, especially given the pop music climate of 1978, but when you listen to it you know it couldn’t have missed. I do feel bad for my friend Roxanne though. She often has the chorus sung to her when first meeting someone (I get it; if you’ve ever met someone named Roxanne I’m sure you too felt the compulsion to hum bar or two). She says it wouldn’t be so bad if everyone didn’t sing the song so poorly and I get that too. Coming from most throats the chorus from Roxanne is more of a screech than a lyric…
But I tell you, Sting makes it sound pretty darn good, as he did at this show.
It sure was a fun show, and while seeing The Police in 2007 didn’t make up for skipping out on them (and so many others) in 1981 it sure was nice to finally scratch that itch.
(Speaking of skipping out on things: I don’t recall why I didn’t show up in time to see Fiction Plane open this show, but it could have been because I had never heard of them and because I had no idea that it was Mr. Sting’s son’s band. Joe Sumner was the bass player, naturally.)