Second night in Toronto...
Torontonians are known for atrophying at live shows. We don't dance, hardly. We clap off rhythm. We don't sing loud enough. Sometimes we hum meekly.
So it was equal parts jarring and delightful to witness 20,000 aging GTAers boogie to 'Message In A Bottle' last night, as The Police kicked off their second show at the ACC. The crowd was eclectic: white guys in jeans, white girls in jeans, white guys with dreads, white guys with mullets, all responding very positively to Sting's yogic sexuality.
Fresh off some Ashtanga at Downward Dog on Queen West, Sting looked lithe in a white ripped tank, black jeans and combat boots: his hips were strikingly slim, as was his rear. His blonde do whipped up asymmetrically, the 55-year-old did look sort of burned, his neck thick and veiny, a singer's neck. A beat up bass completed his painfully effortless look. Had he slept on Egyptian cotton at the Royal York across the street, or dined on vegan at Fressen? Had he been lounging on a collapsing Adirondack chair at H20? We'd never know.
The sheer size of the ACC meant the show felt kind of like a Jays game at the Dome, with lots of distractions: Is that pot I smell? Why do people insist on filming the entire concert on shaky camera phone instead of enjoying it? Why is there only one fan banner, and why does it read I BURN FOR YOU? Is Stewart Copeland angry, or are his brows always this furrowed?
His dad was a CIA agent, his mom a Scot with the British intelligence, maybe that has something to do with it. He looks silly beating that gong in his soccer attire, but he's such a consummate prodigy, the orthodox grip, the drummers' gloves.
Amid the whirling thoughts and the infectious hooks, it was touching to watch a daughter dancing next to her mother, who, crisp in her work shirt and cardigan, closed her eyes and quietly sang along with 'Every Breath You Take', the stalking ode turned international love song turned Diddy bastardization.
I guess everyone has their Police memory. Mine formed as the stadium was bathed in red light for Roxanne, a song I used to gurgle from my crib, much to the chagrin of my dad.
And Sting? He had his Toronto memories too. Between tunes he remembered the Horseshoe Tavern, which The Police played to a handful of fans in 1978, then Massey Hall, then Maple Leaf Gardens. They were 'really f--king loud' the night before, Sting told us. A half decent roar erupted.
What amazed me most was how sophisticated the pentagenarians (more in Andy Summmers' case) came off. The experience had not dated, except for one thing: the show started promptly at 8:45 p.m., as advertised, and wrapped up before 11 p.m., at which the point the crowd flowed to the Esplanade for more beer. If it's one thing we know how to do in Toronto, it's drink on a week night.
(c) The National Post by Zosia Bielski