The Police take concert seriously...
Since the Milwaukee Arena is bordered by State Street, I suppose that would technically qualify events there as part of State Street Beat. With the Police making its only Wisconsin appearance there Monday, a visit to Brewtown was an absolute must.
All 17,000 tickets were sold well in advance, so there's no doubting the fans were serious about this show. But I was also well aware of the serious business approach the band's management takes when the twoheaded trio is on tour.
Milwaukee's X-Cleavers filled the opening slot when Reflex was forced to bow out at the last minute. Unfortunately, haggling with the Police's road manager over what was supposed to be an arranged photo pass gobbled up that whole time period. From backstage, however, the support act sounded great.
After signing two documents assuring the group that I wouldn't use my photos outside of this newspaper under penalty of a $5,000 fine, I was led into the pit in front of the stage for the first four songs. All this seriousness also seemed to extend to the band as Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers strolled on to the opening strains of 'Syncronicity' on tape, joined in and got the affair rolling with not so much as a "Hello Milwaukee."
Backed by three female singers, Sting was in top vocal form. 'Many Miles Away' and 'Message In A Bottle' followed in quick succession. He switched to string bass for 'Walking On The Moon' but stayed with the electric model thereafter. The band appeared a bit self-conscious during 'Do Do Do, etc.,' actually playing down the sing-song title.
"Wrapped Around Your Finger," on' the other hand, became a massive sing-along. Aside from a couple of selections that haven't received megadose airplay, the Police offered all its best tunes. The audience had obviously been listening well because thousands sang along with nearly every word of 'Invisible Sun' (with a roadie on bass so Sting could handle keyboards), 'King of Pain', 'Don't Stand So Close' and the lilting 'Every Breath You Take'.
'Roxanne' brought the strongest of all crowd responses with practically the entire assembly calling out the name on cue. After 90 hit-filled minutes, an extended 'I Can't Stand Losing' served as the sole encore. Throughout the concert, guitarist Summers was oddly quiet, and at some points, barely audible. Copeland was typically the work horse behind his percussion equipment and with Sting's firm bass support, the music never lagged. It was also a joy to be able to understand virtually every word Sting uttered.
Still, the Police sound is rather roomy compared to most and I would have expected at least Summers to stretch the arrangements a bit. But solos were spare and the live renditions rarely strayed from the recorded versions.
The crowd was so boisterous, the band could just stand and deliver most of the time. With the high-quality package the Police had to deliver, that was just fine.
(c) Wisconsin State Journal by Michael St. John