Ghost In The Machine

Syracuse, NY, US
Carrier Dome
Police concert arresting...

The irony of it was not lost on the chief of Police, Sting.

''It's very, very funny.'' he mused after the trio had opened its show before a sellout Carrier Dome crowd of 32,000. ''Three years ago we played at a place called The Firebarn. How many of you were there?''

A roar from the crowd elicited this response from the blond bassist: ''I don't believe you''.

Maybe 200 people showed up for that concert. Three years and three platinum-selling albums later, this trio is unquestionably one of rock's most popular acts and the Firebarns of the entertainment world are just pleasant memories.

Three components separate The Police from 99 percent of the name rock bands performing these days: tremendous material, Sting's milky tenor and the invigorating drumming of Stewart Copeland.

This latter area, often ignored in discussing this band, deserves special note. Copeland does more things with the standard rock beat than any rock drummer around. He forces the listener's attention by refusing to become a glorified metronome. Spitting triplets off his hi-hat and doubling up his crash cymbal, his trap work is distinctive; few are as innovative as he. His silhouette, shining on the roof at the end of the dome, was symbolic of his importance to The Police sound.

Sting, as singer/front man/principal songwriter, naturally commands much of the attention. He sang well throughout the one and a half hour concert but was particularly enjoyable during 'The Bed's Too Big Without You' and 'Bring On The Night'.

On records, The Police have a very dense sound and you might expect the band would have trouble pulling it off live with only three players. They did have a three-piece horn section with them Friday, but they were used primarily for punctuation.

However, with the now-standard array of synthesisers and digital delays, guitarist Andy Summers more than adequately represented the thick feel of 'Secret Journey' and 'Demolition Man'.

Black Uhuru, touted as Jamaica's finest reggae band, opened with a very strong 50-minute set. The best indication of how well it was received came when the crowd booed when the house lights came on between acts.

(c) Syracuse Post Standard by John F Bonfatti (thanks to Raphaƫl Ferreiro)