The Police, The Cramps at Edinburgh Odeon...
For The Police this will be the (sell out) tour that establishes them as a major force in the new wave spectrum. To say that this concert was a success is like suggesting that 'Roxanne' is quite a good song. Not only were the band summoned back for a well-deserved encore, but the audience reaction throughout had never been less than delirious.
In true journalistic style, I arrived just in time to catch Bobby Henry's set. It seemed spirited and energetic, but I don't think I missed much, really.
But the Cramps, well, they were a-mazing. Try and imagine a weird fusion of the Rezillos and the Ramones (well, try then), topped off with a heavy sixties R'n'B influence and Addams family visuals. Occasional NY Dolls echoes filtered through and large sections of the audience felt alienated. If the Cramps didn't exist, someone would have to invent them - stolen riffs, tacky image and all. I loved every moment.
From the first strains of 'Can't Stand Losing You', the Police were always in control, and the next hour was a perfect lesson in dynamics and pacing. Never afraid to experiment, the band stretch out old favourites like 'So Lonely' and 'Born in the 50's' to three times their original length, and still everybody sings along! Indeed, on 'Roxanne', Sting was almost done out of a job by the vociferous fans.
By showcasing several new songs (in particular, the superb 'Message In A Bottle', earmarked as the next single), they took a few chances, but then who wants sterile reruns of an album we've all got at home anyway? Next time, I'll make sure I'm in the front row!
(c) Record Mirror by Johnny Waller
Value-added. A three band tour. Expenses shared, exposure for the musician, extras for the audience. A good thing. Which is at least one reason why the Edinburgh Odeon responded so warmly to to the variegated efforts of this oddly assorted bill. They were being treated right.
Well you don't want a cross between 'Macbeth' and 'Psycho' every time. A good friendly night out is something to be savoured in itself. Bobby Henry began it with appropriate charm. Cropped blond hair, black suit, white plimsolls and a Clydeside accent so thick I doubt the posher Scots of the capital can understand him. He has a powerful pair of lungs, and sounded as though he will become a distinctive voice when he finishes sorting through influences like Lou Reed and Steve Harley. He also plays guitar, with Rob Lamb on lead, Matthew Seligman bass and David Wickham drums, the very neat, intelligent unit who ranged from rinky dinky pop to fairly traditional steady rocking.I liked them and feel a lot of people will, but they need to shake the ague of unconfident reserve out of their joints.
Like the Cramps have. Or maybe arrogance came to these New Yorkers with their chromosomes because they certainly haven't considered it necessary to learn how to play before presenting themselves to the paying public. Which in itself has been done before, made its point and lost its appeal. So they have to funny and grotesque or they are nothing.
To these ends they rely on Bryan Gregory's wetsuit and elongated bleached cow-lick, his guitar partner Ivy Rorschach's stilettos and spray-on trousers and, chiefly, singer Lux Interior's weirdness. He looks like a gigantic Billy Fury, bellows and hiccups incomprehensibly, poses and dances with disturbing awkwardness (you want to laugh and you feel ashamed as if you were mocking a spastic).
But he doesn't care what you think and gladly trades insults with anyone who wants to argue the toss - barbed repartee such as ''Shut up yourself big mouth!''. He jumps down into the audience to get the dialogue on more intimate terms and generally suggests that the only way to wound The Cramps would be to ignore them. I couldn't. Nor could lenslady Jill Furmanovsky because Lux snatched her attache case from her started grasp and flung it on to the stage. That'll teach her to bring sandwiches to a Cramps gig! Anyway, they were a laugh, everybody happy. Though maybe we wouldn't have been had we known there was a good band to follow.
Suddenly, through 'Roxanne' lighting the blue touch paper for 'Outlandos d'Amour', tens of thousands are appreciating Policeman Sting's songwriting, Stewart Copeland's daring with rock and reggae rhythms and Andy Summers' creative rebirth, deploying his session-style guitar expertise with economy and rare feeling.
Live they have other pleasures to offer. They are freer, more open, respond more to the moment (and this means you) than any other band of new or old wave I recall since Kokomo. Doubtless this leaves them more vulnerable than heads down rockers of the like-it-or-lump-it persuasion.
Probably the future holds audiences who will scorn their extended hands the way many did in their unfashionable past, but for now they are loved.
The Edinburgh crowd was quite simply hot and willing for them in an unusually two-way ebb and flow.
Thusly, running wild with the band airing their locomotor brainstorm choruses like 'So Lonely', 'Put on the red light' (Roxanne) and 'All I want is to get next to you-oo'; listening intently to the band who are in turn listening intently to them when they 'take it down' (possibly to nothing more than a rimshot rhythm from Stewart) and then starting to fill the gaps with their own inventions, clapping, chanting as a mass and even hollering individually - through one quiet bit a bloke of 15 or so near me was screaming 'I'm so lonely' out of tune, out of time, but in the spirit. And all this was different again the next night.
Interaction rather than manipulation. Not absolutely of course. I've made it sound too pure. Police gigs are as much a numbing mish-mash as anyone else's. But they do have their own flavour. At their best The Police don't dictate.
(c) Sounds by Phil Sutcliffe