Reggatta de Blanc

Seattle, WA, US
The Showboxwith The Specials
Police, Specials at Showbox get rock year off to flying start...

It was late in coming, but the rock year finally got off to a great start Friday when two of the hottest bands in Britain, The Police and The Specials, nearly shook the Showbox to the ground.

Seattle has had some fine pop music shows this year - Dylan, the Roches and B.B. King among them - but no real rockers like the one Friday night.

It didn't start out like a winner however... The show started some 90 minutes late because some equipment was delayed.

When the doors finally opened and the show started, the inconvenience of the long wait was soon forgotten. The opening band, a new-group unknown in the United States, the Specials, took the audience by storm. Its rhythmic blend of punk and reggae got the crowd shouting and dancing and created a good mood for The Police, who proceeded to tear the house down with a set so powerful it seemed to surprise even them.

The Specials, a seven man group from Coventry, has so perfectly blended the anger and political awareness of punk with the pulsating cross-rhythms of reggae that it was practically created a new style.

The band played up the divergence of its sources by pitting thee two blacks in the group against the whites, at least symbolically. A couple of times the jumping, energetic black lead singer, Neville Staples, pretended to attack the stoic white keyboard player, Jerry Dammers, but it was all part of the show.

The contrast between Staples and Terry Hall, the tall, white lead singer, was also emphasised.

The band, all skinheads (short haired) and wearing polo shirts, slacks, stingy brims and suit coats with narrow lapels, was excellent. John Bradbury was an amazing drummer, skilfully incorporating reggae and rock styles. Roddy Byers was outstanding on guitar, although he seldom got a solo. Horace Panter played bass and Lynval Golding rhythm guitar.

The intimacy of the Showbox, a former night club, worked perfectly for The Police, who used the proximity of the audience to its advantage.

The lead singer, Sting, worked the crowd into a frenzy with his highly personalised style. He had them so worked up that when the band played 'Reggatta de Blanc' he didn't have to ask the crowd to sing along, it did it automatically.

The crowd danced so heartily that the floor swayed dangerously, but that only seemed to add to the excitement.

The Police's music has never sounded better. Andy Summers played great guitar and Stewart Copeland played reggae and rock drumming beautifully.

It was a great night.

(c) The Seattle Times by Patrick MacDonald