Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Walking On The Moon

As promised, an update on the trip to New Orleans to witness the return of The Police. Suffice to say that Sting and the boys comprised 1/3 of my favorite musical trifecta in the early '80s, along with The Clash and U2. Unlike the latter two bands perhaps, The Police never made it their mission to try to change the world, but were really about no more than composing near-perfect pop songs tastefully flavored with a dash of punk and ladle of ska.

On the way into town, Ms. Rich and I had just been discussing the fact that, even though The Police were hugely popular in their day, "the kids" today don't seem to be especially familiar with them, despite the fact that their music has held up remarkably well. This point was not refuted by our early-20s hotel desk clerk, who gave us a blank stare when we told her that we were in town for The Police concert. I said to her, it's the band that Sting used to be in a long time ago. She smiled and replied, "My mom likes Sting. Do you think he'll be there?" I smiled back and said that I was pretty sure that he would be there.

After an immediate run to Mother's on Poydras for gumbo, etouffee, and a Bloody Mary or two from "Elvis," we wandered around the Quarter, settling in on the patio at Pat O's, where we kept it simple, but nevertheless whiled a few hours away in alcohol and the afternoon sun. After a pre-show po-boy, our pumps were primed for an evening with some favorite musical memories.

And the boys were in fine form. I had seen them on their "farewell" tour in 1984, which I recall as being something of a spectacle. Saturday night's show was very different from that. It was The Police stripped to the basics: no backup singers, no keyboards, nothing fancy (except for the giant video monitors above the stage). Even the stage banter and audience interaction were kept to a minimum, save a nice reference to the resilient spirit of New Orleans and a generous amount of encouraged sing-a-longs. It was just the three musicians ripping through one of the greatest songbooks in rock, for roughly two hours and three encores.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the setlist did not deviate dramatically from their biggest hits, although there were a few slightly less well-trodden cuts like "Truth Hits Everybody" and "Voices Inside My Head," which melted into "When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around." Another favorite was a wonderfully rousing extended version of "Regatta De Blanc," on which I pretty much lost my voice (to the delight, I'm sure, of those around me).

And even though Sting may have seemed a little subdued in the chorus of "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself, as did Stewart Copeland (running as he did from drum kit to percussion station) and Andy Summers (attempting a few joyful, if ill-advised, mid-air splits). There even seemed to be some real camaraderie when Sting jokingly referred to "the Stewart Copeland Show" and "the Andy Summers Show" at that line in "So Lonely" that normally ends "welcome to this one-man show." They brought the house down with probably their biggest hit -- and maybe the biggest song of the '8os -- "Every Breath You Take," and then wrapped it all up with the song I left you with on Friday, "Next To You."

All in all, it was a spectacular night at the end of a perfect day. We followed the crowd back into the French Quarter afterward and made our way to that "Huge Ass Beers To Go" place, and then to our Bourbon Street balcony, walking on the moon.

MP3: The Police - "Truth Hits Everybody" (Live)
MP3: The Police - "Tea In The Sahara" (Live)