Outlandos d'Amour

Seattle, WA, US
No one arrested by these 'Police'...

Maybe it was the name? Monday's Paramount North West debut by the British trio Police isn't going to go down as a night to remember in the chronicles of Seattle rock'n'roll.

There have been worse shows there but rarely such an apathetic one. The lack of interest on everyone's part - the audience, the promoter and band - was as obvious as the half empty house. Even hundreds of free tickets distributed that afternoon didn't fill the void. Most of the crowd seems as unfamiliar with the band as the evening's announcer, who introduced the Police as being from New England.

It probably didn't have to be that way. With an album ('Outlandos d'Amour') pedgged at 32 on Billboard Magazine's Top 100 chart, the trio has been performing for anthusiastic audiences and reviewers in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York and elsewhere.

But in Seattle, The Police couldn't have gotten arrested. The band's powerful style of basic rock just didn't connect.

Structured around the bass-playing, single named vocalist Sting, the Police are sort of a post-punk version of the heavy metal mechanics (a la Ted Nugent) who regularly fill the Colisum and Arena here. But with some important differences, the Police are guerilla rockers - stripped down, simplified and solid. The band's songs are more interesting too, and a lot of its sound owes a debt to reggae.

Another contrast with the likes of Nugent is the source of the group's impact. It doesn't depend on either overwhelming volume or manic speed: rather the Police makes its point through intensity of performance.

Sting's way with a bass guitar is also fairly unique. He plays it, adding a lot more to the band's sound than the usual.

Little of which was demonstrated on the Paramount's stage. After struggling to get the audience involved, Sting (and guitarist Andy Summers and American drummer Stewart Copeland) bowed to the apathy and conducted the remainder of the set on automatic pilot.

Opening were the Moberleys and, although the Seattle band was probably as unknown as the headliners, they turned in a performance which was testimony to their continued growth.

Working in a couple of new tunes, the group played in a more muscular, hard hitting style than they've exhibited in various club dates. Aside from some volume problems at the start, the Moberleys set went down as well as anything heard Momday night. The band appears Sunday with Red Dress in an 8pm show at the University of Washington's Ethnic Cultural Theater.

(c) The Seattle Post-Intelligencer by George Arthur

Police, arresting new rock group - fantastic in concert...

Seattle rock fans had a chance to see The Police, the hottest new group coming out of England, Monday night at the Paramount, but few took advantage of the opportunity. The John Bauer Concert Co. gave away hundreds of tickets, and even them the first floor was little more than half filled. That's too bad, because the trio turned out to be the best new group to pass this way in some time. Neither punk nor pop nor disco, The Police has shaped its own sound by experimenting with various rhythms and by writing decidedly unique songs.

The influence of reggae was generally apparent in the thythmic patterns that flowed through many of the songs and was particulary noticeable in the vocals, which often sounded like Bob Marley of the Wailers.

'Roxanne' which has gotten a lot of airplay on FM locally, is the best example. It was the centre piece of the concert, the song that got the crowd on it's feet and involved. It's a great song, but there were even better ones 'Message In A Bottle' was even more reggae influenced and has an extended jam that showed off the excellent guitar work of Andy Summers and the solid drumming of Stewart Copeland.

'So Lonely' and 'Hole In My Life' were other songs that employed several fascinating rhythms. 'Born In The 50's' showed the band's writing strengths. A simple pop ballad on the surface, it's lyrics made brilliant use of familiar imagery, from the bomb to Kennedy's assassination. The vocalist, who calls himself Sting was perfect, his British accent adding just the right touch of irony.

'Can't Stand Losing You' which opened and closed the show was another stong tune, and conventional enough to be a pop hit. Their performance was polished and professional but always loose and free. They had that British gloss without the arrogance or pretence.

Sting was a fascinating lead vocalist and Summers has some great moves too. The Police is definitely a band to watch.

(c) The Seattle Times by Patrick Macdonald