Once Upon A Daydream
Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY
Saturday, July 14, 2007
For as long as I can remember, the top spot on the list of bands I wish I had seen live has been The Police. But they broke up when I was fourteen, and even if I had been old enough to go to concerts without my parents, Spokane, Washington was not a regular stop on most major rock acts itenerary. So when they announced their reunion tour back in February, the question wasn't if I was going to see them, but where.
The first thoughts my friend and I had when we made our way to our seats were "we paid $100 bucks for this?" Churchill Downs is a nice place to see a horse race, but unless you are in the four middle sections in front of the stage, is a lousy place to see a concert. We were WAY off to the left of the stage. We wondered if the ushers would let us sit up in the cheap seats in the grandstands, which we thought would have had better sightlines than where we were stuck (they did have large video screens spread out along the track, which helped). But once the final strains of Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" faded out and the stage lights started flickering, it suddently didn't matter where we were sitting. We were awestruck from the moment the fab three walked onstage and began blazing through "Message In A Bottle," through the final encore of "Next To You."
Honestly, I didn't expect them to be as fantastic as they were. The last couple of TV appearances I'd seen of them (their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2003, and their Grammy performance earlier this year) were good, but hardly great. And the reviews of the tour so far have been a mixed bag. But they truly were amazing. I expected to enjoy it, but I didn't think they would have that much energy and enthusiasm almost 25 years later.
Apart from lowering the key of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" substantially, Sting's voice showed few signs of age. Stewart Copeland demonstrated why so many drummers (and non-percussive minded people as well) consider him a god. It was obvious throughout the set that he was thrilled to be playing these songs with these guys again. But Andy Summers was the real star of the show. He has spent the last 20 years making jazz albums, and his chops were amazing. As good a guitarist as he was during the band's heyday, he's even better now; some of his solos bordered on shredding.
The band gave many of the songs a fresh coat of paint, with new intros and altered middle parts that managed to spice things up but still sound like the actual songs you remembered. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" got a half-acoustic treatment that gave me goosepumps, and "Invisible Sun" sounded fittingly more agressive with a new extended introduction. Even "Walking In Your Footsteps," which might rank as my least favorite Police song, sounded great in a new, more rocking arrangement. The setlist struck a perfect balance between the hits and some deeper album cuts, such as "The Bed's Too Big Without You" and a fantastic medley of "Voices Inside My Head" and "When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around." On the drive home Sunday, I kept having to pinch myself to realize that not only had I finally seen my dream concert, but it was better than I ever hoped it would be.
The Louisville Courier-Journal has several photo galleries from the show, as well as a complete setlist.
I've posted several live Police tracks over the past few months, and since I couldn't dig up any recordings from the current tour, I thought I'd go in a different direction and give you this little treat... Sting's original demo of possibly my favorite Police song. It's funny to think that this song, a single from Ghost In The Machine, was written before all of the punk-ish tunes on Outandos D'Amour.
Sting - "Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic (1976 demo)" (mp3) from Strontium 90 - Police Academy