Friday, 20 June 2008

The Police / Starsailor @ The M.E.N Arena, Manchester. 17th June 2008

Review by Chloe West

The Police could be described as one of the few bands to gain total international recognition; breaking the difficult American scene and promoting British culture - a culture of late 70s punk rock for the masses. Thirty years on The Police return for a worldwide reunion tour, commemorating the anniversary of breakthrough single ‘Roxanne’, stopping in Manchester for two consecutive sold out nights.

However, before the trio take to the stage, we are greeted by Starsailor, a soulful indie four-piece. Frontman James Walsh’s vocals haunt the by this point semi-filled arena, breaking into the thought -provoking ‘Alcoholic’, followed by a new track, ‘Tell Me Its Not Over’, taken from their so far unnamed forthcoming album. Further into the set, Walsh presents the band's only number one to date - a number one in France that is - the classic ‘Four To The Floor’. Another new track brings a country element to the set, before continuing with the hit, ‘Silence Is Easy’. To finish, Starsailor depart with ‘Good Souls’, a song ‘for all those Starsailor fans’ with Walsh cleverly entwining the lyrics from Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ into the end of the song.

Half an hour later and the M.E.N is full. 18,000 eager fans of all ages brimming with anticipation. As the lights fade we are greeted by a seated figure as ‘Bring On The Night’ fills the venue, with Sting on acoustic guitar. Stepping up the tempo, the unforgettable opening notes of ‘Message In A Bottle’ cry out and the crowd erupts to their first number one. It is obvious why The Police hold such prestige; their talents haven’t faded at all since their formation in 1977. It would be interesting to see today’s artists playing with the same momentum in their ‘senior years’! Another classic, ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ is introduced with Sting reminding the audience he used to be a teacher, although he has previously claimed that the track’s tale isn’t autobiographical.

He also apologises for the eight months wait many have experienced due to the original October date being cancelled. Now it is clear why that was necessary; with no throat infection to hinder him, Sting reaches every note, matching Andy Summers masterful guitar technique; while the now grey-haired Stewart Copeland shows exactly why he is a world renowned drummer. Sporting sweatband, glasses and white gloves, Copeland shows off his wide-ranging ability from fast frenzied beats to the gentler percussion rhythms. Crowd pleaser ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ follows the funky ‘Hole In My Life’, before the tone lowers with the more political ‘Invisible Sun’ - images of poverty stricken children filing the screens.

‘I guess this is our last goodbye’ Sting sings in the final number, ‘Cant Stand Losing You’; a poignant reminder that this is their last ever tour. They then return for the first of two encores, including the timeless ‘Roxanne’, ‘So Lonely’ and ‘Every Breath You Take’. Finally the trio grace us with ‘Next To You’, a feeling many women in the crowd surely had for a certain singer tonight! An overall amazing performance from a band whose legacy will definitely be prominent for another thirty years.

No comments: