Outlandos d'Amour

Los Angeles, CA, US
The Whisky
Can you feel the force?

There's something schizophrenic about this group. An English band with an American drummer, a Californian who knows how to bash out rock and roll - with feeling, at that. A white group who play reggae without turning into Caribbean nightclub background music. Guys who can sing a passionate song about a woman, albeit a 'loose woman', like 'Roxanne' and go on to expound the virtues of inflatable female dolls in a poetry reading. Could be that they possess a refind sense of humour. Could be that I'm picking faults in what was really a superb performance.

This is Police's second L.A. appearance in six months promoting 'Outlandos d'Amour', and all three nights at the Whisky (this being the third and final show) were packed with satisfied customers making a fair attempt at dancing along with the very theatrical Mr Sting (look-at-me-I'm-evil stance, jutting out his chin, throwing back his shoulders, thrashing out some of the best bass lines the Whisky sound system has transmitted) even if there were moments (my least favourite ones) when the band abandoned their concise, economically energetic numbers for some long and almost self-indulgent instrumental sections that would have left any porr pogoer tied up in knots.

Where some of the album is lacking (exclude 'Roxanne' and 'Can't Stand Losing You', surely the best moments of tonight's set and saved for the end of of the evening) the live renditions make up for nay disappointments felt from the hearing the vinyl versions. 'Feel So Lonely', for example. The high vocals live sound less like an impersonation of the Bee Gees singing reggae and much more intense. The loud, uptempo bits become very loud and very uptempo and the big build up at the end after the instrumental section makes you want to jump on stage and pat them on the back.

You've got to hand it to themm, the Police aren't a one-dimensional pogo band. Each song smacks of various influences and to their credit they make them mesh together and come out with something that stands out from the crowd.

Most danced to song of the evening: 'Born in the 50s'. Most appaluded: 'Roxanne'. Encores: two, though the audience still wanted more. Their album is moving - if slowly - up the charts here, currently keeping 'Give 'Em Enough Rope' company in the lower reaches. From the reaction of L.A.'s in crowd, this tour could get them a real hit.

(c) Sounds by Sylvie Simmons

Police don't cop out at the Whisky...

The Police are very good cops: tough, intelligent, efficient, cagey.

They're also the sort of boys the real cops would immediately run in on suspicion: tough, intelligent, loud, disruptive. The Police are a trio - two Britons, one American - and on Saturday night they closed out their three-day stay at the Whisky with a bang, and not a few screeching Police whistles from the crowd.

The Police play thick, direct rock and roll and achieve a density of sound all the more entrancing for its emanation from only three players. Guitarist Andy Summers lays out a multitude of utilitarian chords, and drummer Stewart Copeland maintains a flurry of precise beating. Most, uh, arresting is the lead singer-bassist, named simply Sting: tall, muscular, strikingly handsome, Sting sings in a high voice that has made its peace with hoarseness - it sounds as if Sting has sandpapered his larynx down to a pitch of fine, flat delicacy.

For all their precision, the Police make a rough, dramatic music that uses pop riffs for structure but which often uses reggae to make its most thrilling points. Again and again at the Whisky the band would fire into a number, most of them from their debut American album 'Outlandos d'Amour', only to cool down into a reggae digression ot a hard-rock epiphany half-way through. Most of the time, this effect worked extremely well, with the contrast in genres increasing the tension.

The happiest example of this came during their performance of 'Roxanne', which as a single with a lilting, magnetic chorus, is making a decent assault upon American charts. Rather than plug their semi-hit by playing it straight though, the Police constructed a melancholy reggae detour that perfectly complemented the adolescent ache of the song's original pop melody.

A number of the songs on 'Outlandos d'Amour' seem to go on a verse or two too long - the riffs don't sustain the verbiage. At the Whisky, however, the Police gave us lots of evidence that the expansiveness is, far from being self indulgent, due to a surfeit of brains and energy. Promotions are in order all around.

(c) The Los Angeles Herald Examiner by Ken Tucker