Initially, I thought I wasn’t going to end up seeing The Police when they came to Chicago. Tickets were too far out of my price range, and attempts to parlay my Time Out employment into a press pass, failed (though I did manage to get us a photo pass). But last night my sister called and said she had an extra ticket in the set her work had been given by a vendor (think about that what you will).
In any case, it was a great show. I’m going to resist going on about it for my usual 1000 words (especially since Greg Kot is pretty dead-on here). But a few thoughts:
* I need to pull out the Live disc from a couple years ago*, but the set (full list after the jump) was pretty similar to what they played on the Synchronicity tour. The difference here was that the horn section and backup singers they brought with them then were left behind. Best I could tell, they weren’t playing to backing tracks, and still kept a full, muscle-y sound. **
* Sting isn’t hitting the high notes anymore, and this has led to new arrangements. Some are good (“Every Little Thing…” and “Roxanne” really cook in a way they don’t on record), but a lot of them rob the originals of all their fire (I would rather have not heard “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” than listened to the run-through here). Some of the song were a bit limp, but almost everything from “Can’t Stand Losing You” until the end of the show was spot-fucking-on. For some reason, I have no memory of hearing “Every Breath You Take” even though my notes say they played it, which leads me to believe it wasn’t very memorable or was lost between the amazing bookends of “So Lonely” and “Next To You.”
* People who say The Police don’t seem to enjoy playing together onstage haven’t looked at old footage recently. They were never particularly chummy as a live act, and the perfectionism that shows up in the studio manifests itself as a stern concentration in a live setting.
* Stern concentration does not mean boredom though. Holy fuck, Andy Summers was on fire. Stu was hot, too, but Summers left both he and Sting in the dust.
* Kudos to The Police for not stretching out the audience applause during encores unlike some bands I could name (Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1991 prior to coming back out and playing “Freebird,” I’m looking at you).
* Seeing a concert at Wrigley is a lot like going to a Cubs game. Same people, same level of interest in what’s going on in the outfield.
* Sting’s son’s band Fiction Plane opened. They led the crowd through a Harry Caray-style version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” and that tells you almost everything you need to know about their set except this: if you thought Sting’s voice was annoying, his son Joe will give you a new appreciation for his father’s skill, and you’ll also note that cheesy stage banter is genetic.
Here’s the set list from the July 6th Police show in Chicago:
Message in a Bottle
Walking on the Moon
Voices Inside My Head/When The World Is Running Down
Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Driven To Tears
Truth Hits Everybody
The Bed’s Too Big Without You
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can’t Stand Losing You/Regatta De Blanc (best song of the night)
King of Pain
Every Breath You Take
Next To You
* A couple? This disc actually came out 12 years ago. God, I’m old.
** Tankboy notes here that they did use backing tracks. Frankly, the sound wasn’t that great from where I was sitting so I could be wrong about this.