Friday, December 12, 2008

Walking On The Moon

Roxanne puts on the red light one more time as Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland jump for joy.

Last year in Oakland I got to see The Police perform as part of their reunion tour. The show I saw was a bit lackluster with flashes of greatness. I was unprepared for the trio's jazzier sound and barebones arrangements. But what made it disappointing was they seemed out of sync with each other. Their playing and singing were fine as separate parts, they just weren't jellin'. Even drummer Stewart Copeland began to publicly remark about the quality of their performances. As the tour went on, I began to read that The Police were improving and playing tighter. Still, I was unsure if that was just reunion hype or real. Now the band's new release, the 2 DVD / 2 CD set Certifiable has the last word.

Indeed the trio's playing did tighten up and become stronger as a result. Andy Summer's shimmering and careening guitar, Stewart Copeland's slapping drumwork and Sting's muscular bass lines interlock sharply. Certifiable captures a lively performance though the new arrangements still rein in some of the energy of the original tracks. At last the groups chemistry reached a point to justify their new approach.

The DVD set is divided into a concert and a documentary. The concert DVD is a real treat, the sound is mixed evenly, fully and clearly. In widescreen, the picture filled my TV screen without letterboxing. Coverage of the event was well done, good clean shots of the band members in performance as well as getting some of their interactions together to personalize it. And the Buenos Aires crowd goes nuts at every turn, no wonder they're the dream audience of every rock band. A home theater system's dream, Certifiable's concert DVD is great stuff. The overlong 2nd DVD is a documentary that doesn't do a whole lot. Reminiscent of classic Police documentary footage, it's rambling, excessive and loose. If you've seen Sting and Stewart Copeland banter before, this is no different. Too bad the second CD couldn't contain more performance footage. Oh well, it comes with the set so it's not like it's entirely worthless.

The two CD set is the same concert live. The sound on CD has a touch of a soundboard feel so at least it doesn't seemed to be fixed in post production. Without a video component the music has to stand completely on its own merits and thankfully it passes. The slight raggedness to The Police comes across stronger in a strictly audio format but it's a likeable edge this time around. It still seems like Punk Jazz, but with the band locked in a groove the stuff flies.

Like the tour, Certifiable is brought to us by Best Buy and is an enjoyable live souvenir of what I guess will be the last Police tour. If ever an 80's band deserved a victory lap The Police were it, every little thing they did was magic.


Some Kinda Wonderful said...

I think I'm glad I didn't shell out to go see them. Not like they would have played a town this size anyway... :) I loved the Police. Sting is a jerk and I love Stewart Copeland. Andy Summers is a competent guitarist, but he just never seemed to have much personality. I guess with the other two always trying to push eachother out of the spotlight, he didn't feel the need to get into a shoving match with either of them.

Mr. Mike said...

Well said, you pretty much hit the nail on the head with how they relate to each other. The Police were a great band and one of the few to really go out on top.