Reggatta de Blanc

Miami, FL, US
Gusmann Hall

Everything right for Police night...

If you really care about rock & roll in South Florida, but missed last Friday night's Police/Cichlids concert at Gusman Cultural Center, you either:

- Couldn't get a ticket after the unfortunate cancellation of the midnight show, or

- Don't really care about rock & roll in South Florida.

Too bad, because it was one of those rare rock & roll nights when everything went right. The Police were outstanding, Cichlids did themselves proud, the crowd was wild and colorful without lapsing into the much-feared idiot syndrome and Gusman was, as usual, a perfectly comfy and humanizing place to be.

The Police play with relentless power (not volume as much as power) balance by impeccable timing and uncanny sense of rhythm. Although they are only three pieces with a single voice, there is a versatility contained in the ebb and flow of the arrangements that sustains interest throughout the exhausting evening.

Since there are only three pieces, each of the Police men is ever busy, but the music never gets cluttered. Drummer Stewart Copeland is a marvellous and manic combination of energy and restraint and Sting plays enough bass to keep two bands in business. Guitarist Andy Summers ranges from simple, unobtrusive leads to burning riffs that seem to ring off every surface in the hall.

Actually, Sting's voice acts as the fourth instrument as he covers a wide range of sounds and styles. His jungle chants are hypnotic and his animalistic shriek on 'The Bed's Too Big Without You'  is shattering. He also maintains steady contact with his crowd - leaping, gesturing, chatting and launching enormous bass notes into the balcony. In two of the night's finest moments, Sting accepts a request (I haven't seen that all year) for 'Message In A Bottle' and gets a singalong going on a rather subdued 'Roxanne' (which has somehow evolved into "Roxann-ah").

Opening with a simple and fast 'Next To You', they proceed to a more complex 'So Lonely'. From it's familiar reggae vamp, 'So Lonely' soars across Summers' guitar bridge and down into a closing jungle of Sting's echoing chants. This is the Police signature, a fading in and out of differing musical worlds.

There is more chanting from Sting on the suitably spacey 'Walking On The Moon', an easy-going composition off the new 'Reggatta De Blanc' album. The new songs like 'Walking', the steady-funky 'Bring On The Night', 'Message', and 'The Bed's Too Big' tend to be smoother and more elaborate than some of the earlier more frantic material. Yet, even on a sparse 'Hole In My Life' one feels there is no room for a single additional instrument on the stage.

Another nice touch was the inclusion of the little known 'Far Out', the band's first single in England and a clear indication of their early punk orientation. The finale is a gut-wrenching, heart-attacking, Who-ish 'Can't Stand Losing You'. Summers gets downright psychedelic here, while Copeland just leans back, grits his teeth and flails away with amazing accuracy. An encore of 'Landlord' and 'Born In The Fifties' closes the show with a final nod to the earlier rocking material.

Cichlids opened the show sounding particularly impressive in their first performance at a major concert venue. In fact, the wonderfully chaotic, no-frills intensity of the Dania group seemed heightened by the nervous energy of the occasion. At the outset, singer Debbie Mascaro wrestled with an ornery microphone for several songs before drummer Bobby Tak and guitarist Allan Portman took vocal turns and steadied the band. It was somewhere around Portman's "punk rock fugitive" shout that the band really shaped up. Then Mascaro came back with a dynamically naughty run through 'These Boots are Made for Walkin', that must have shook some first time Cich watchers.

(c) Fort Lauderdale News by Kenny Schlager