Hollypark, what a place for a show - not a winning place for a show...
Police fuse video technology and Sting's bite trying to make it around the far turn at Race track.
As a concert site, Hollywood Park is a pretty good race track.
The home of the horses became a setting for rock Tuesday when the Police, having failed to secure any of L.A.'s usual ballparks, headlined a four-band bill (including Berlin, the Fixx and the Thompson Twins) at the Inglewood course.
The impediments to the rock experience inherent in jumbo-size concerts prevailed, but the Police made the best of it, and the novelty of the location at least provided some diversion. But considering how much better the Police would be under decent circumstances, I'd say they owe us - and themselves - a club show.
The labyrinthine entry process was more absurd than oppressive: ''General admission to the left, reserved to the right...'' ''Stay outside the barricade...'' ''Enter over there...'' ''Go up the escalator and they'll tell you where to go...'' ''Take that escalator up...'' ''Go to section 14 and up those stairs.'' ''Over to section 11...'' ''Go to the second row, 12 seats in.''
Before long you felt as if you were in a Monty Python sketch.
The park's vast indoor area looked like a surreal airline terminal as fans idled around the rows of closed betting windows watching the show on the multitude of TV monitors. Speaking of airlines, an extra light show was provided outside by the unceasing parade of incoming LAX flights.
Unlike the Coliseum and Anaheim Stadium, Hollywood Park's wide open spaces extend to the sides rather than the rear. The stage was set on the infield, fronting the track and facing the grandstand.
The back row wasn't that distant, relatively speaking, but the angle for those standing on the track far to the sides of the stage looked pretty ridiculous. Attendance at the 72,000 capacity park was 55,400.
The three little specks that comprise the Police would have been invisible but for the three big video screens above and beside the stage, and you have to wonder how people pulled these shows off before that technology arrived. It was so pointless to watch people on the actual stage that you gave yourself over to the new experience, a synthesis of live sound and televised image.
In a way, the Police didn't fully arrive until the video belatedly came on. The group had played a song already, but it was when the screens finally lit up that the crowd responded with a welcoming cheer.
Of course this format puts you in the hands of a director, and Tuesday's seemed to be sleepwalking through the show, cutting automatically and predictable from singer Sting to guitarist Andy Summers to drummer Stewart Copeland, regardless of where something interesting was happening.
Perhaps because the video screens were there bridge the distance gap, Sting established strong contact with the crowd without forced, exaggerated gestures. The naturalness that informs his husky but soaring vocals was evident in his easygoing but authoritative manner.
The Police are unusually provocative for a massively popular band, and while they sacrificed some subtlety and personality in this setting, they did mount an agreeable intensity. The group knows that its strength is Sting's songs and vocals, and Summers and Copeland played resourcefully but unobtrusively, with a minimum of distracting spotlight solos.
Maybe its carping to keep criticising this large-scale format. No one in my area was bemoaning the size of the place or the distance to the stage. Perhaps to the video generation, this is simply the way rock is: electronically transmitted, confined in a rectangle, impersonal and distant. Let's hope these kids have a chance to experience the power of live, face to face rock before it's too late. The Police could give them a good taste of it in someplace intimate like the Forum, I'll bet. Where's that $2 window?
(c) The Los Angeles Times by Richard Cromelin
The Police at Hollywood Park...
I can remember thinking that Hollywood Park was a strange place to stage a concert, as its primary purpose is for horse racing. This may have been the first concert event ever staged there - certainly of its size and not as part of between-race entertainment. The L.A. Forum sat right across the street, making the choice of venue seem even more unusual.
The stage was constructed on the infield, and the seating areas were straight across (as the race track is a long oval) creating some very poor sight lines to the stage for the poor chaps on the ends. However, for a 15-year old boy who won the tickets from the local cable television company by photocopying 200 contest entry forms, then hand-delivering them 5 miles away on my bike, I was just happy to be there! The opening acts were a who's-who of nu-wave superstars, all of whom I was already a big fan.
Sting was very chatty and cheeky, and there were a few exchanges between band members that did nothing to soften rumors of their implosion (I think Andy ev called Sting ''Adolf'' at one point). Anyway, the show was great fun. My wife, who is an even bigger Police/Sting fan that I am, never got to see them. So, I'll always have this to hold over her head ;) Sting's music and performances have always played an important part in our 17-year relationship, and the tour page has brought back some wonderful memories. Thanks!
Set list: Voices Inside My Head / Synchronicity I / Synchronicity II / Walking In Your Footsteps / Message In A Bottle / Walking On The Moon / O My God / De Do Do Do De Da Da Da / Wrapped Around Your Finger / Tea In The Sahara / Spirits In The Material World / Hole In My Life / Invisible Sun / One World / King Of Pain / Don't Stand So Close To Me / Murder By Numbers / Every Breath You Take / Roxanne / Can't Stand Losing You / So Lonely
Support acts: Thompson Twins, The Fixx, Berlin.
(c) Michael Thompson for Sting.com