Outlandos d'Amour

Dayton, OH, US
Rock group finds different audiences in Britain; U.S.

Police, a British rock group on its first tour of America, appeared in Dayton last week as the opening act at the new Bailiwiks, which was recently transformed from a disco into a club. Neither the band (whose appearance suggest punk, but whose musical style isn't easily categorized) nor the audience (many in ''proper (disco) attire'') was quite what the other expected. Yet the three man group played an excellent set, and the relatively small audience responded favourably, it not enthsiastically.

Their show got off to a rather inauspicious start when the sound system malfunctioned during the first song, leaving lead singer Sting singing into a dead microphone. They took a casual, good-humored attitude toward the problem, which was quickly solved, then proceeded with their high-energy blend of reggae, pop, rock and new wave styles. Their repertoire included 'Can't Stand Losing You', currently on the charts in England. This reggae-influenced tune featured an intriguing guitar solo from Andrew Summers, unlike the typical power-riffing lead guitarist's trot out during the typical concert. Stewart Copeland on drums and Sting on a four string fretless bass (''we can't afford frets yet - we're saving up for them'') set up the powerful rhythms that carry Police's songs along. Police also performed their major British hit and current U.S single, 'Roxanne'; their first single, 'Fallout', recorded on drummer Copeland's Illegal label; and 'Would You Be My Girl', an exuberant pop song sandwiching a deadpan recitiation, a la Peter Cook, of a poem by Summers about an inflatable party doll.

Following their set, Copeland and Sting spoke about the band and it's first American tour, which had been underway for two weeks. The tour is a rather unorthodox undertaking, as Police's debut album will not be released in America until January.

''The only problem we've had is the record company - we're waking them up as we get here,'' said Copeland. ''They come to see us and the promo-man goes crazy, and starts working on it. So the problem is when we get (somewhere), there's nothing set up and when we leave, it's 'why didn't someone tell me?'''

Police has a single out in the U.S., 'Roxanne', which reached the Top 20 in England. ''It hasn't done anything in America so far,'' stated Copeland. ''The single's only been out for a few days. By the look of things, (imports of the British 45) are doing pretty well, because at every gig, there's kids who have it.''

Thre are differences in the crowds that go to see Police here and in their native country. The major difference is age ''In London,'' said Sting, ''you play to fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen year old kids. Here you can't get into a club unless you're twenty-one.''

The seven year's difference in age results in a sharp contrast in the types of audience found in the two countries. While most club audiences probably are not a sedate as Bailiwiks' toe-tappers, they are not like English crowds. ''It's like playing to a football crowd,'' said Copeland. ''It's totally different. The tear the whole place down. They have the older kids near the stage, they're all jumping up and down, bouncing off each other... It's great.''

One of the band's major influences has been reggae, which is popular in London, where the band originated. ''London's got lots of really good reggae,'' commented Copeland. Sting added, ''We live right next to a very large Jamaican community and there's a lot of reggae.''

''There kids really get into it,'' Copeland said. ''There isn't any laid-back punk, so when the punks want to lay back, they go see reggae bands.''

The reggae-flavored 'Roxanne' was the band's biggest milestone, according to Copeland, ''becasue people were thinking we were a punk band, and we're not; where they heard 'Roxanne' it was obvious that we're not a punk band, so they started checking us out.''

The band's first impression of America? ''This is the first time I've been to this country,'' said Sting. ''It's great, I really love it. Especially New York. I was like a country boy coming to the big city.''

If Police's debut ablum equals the quality of their set at Bailiwik's opening, it;s likely that they will be seeing more of the United Stated in the future.

(c) Daily Guardian by R L Metcalf