Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day On The Green #3 - September 10, 1983

Spirits In The Material World

Writing the last post made me think back to one of my favorite concert memories, Day On The Green #3 at the Oakland Coliseum in 1983. My friend (also named Mike) was a big Police fan at that time and let me copy all of his tapes. So when they came around to play live I was a fan too and ready to go. My aunt liked The Police and agreed to take me and my friends. So my friend Mike and my cousin Michelle got tickets and came along for the ride. The Police were headlining a Day On The Green, an all day music show that Bill Graham productions used to put on in the 70's and 80's.

I should mention my aunt likes rock music and was very cool about taking me to see shows, particularly when I first started going to concerts. She picked us up early in the morning so we could make the drive to Oakland to see the show. In the parking lot, there was Police music and T Shirts everywhere. It was a really hot summer and we expected it to be a hot one that night.

We followed the long line into the coliseum and the Thompson Twins were already playing. As we walked along the infield (I was a big baseball fan at the time so I was pumped to be on the playing field of a professional baseball team) we got our closest view of the stage. The Thompson Twins were wrapping up their set playing what was my favorite song of theirs at the time, "Lies". That moment of seeing Alannah Currie, Joe Leeway and Tom Bailey jamming away close up was burned into my brain. My aunt safely whisked us up to the top rows in the nose bleed seats. We sat down and waited for the next band to start.

That next band was the cool "It" band of the moment, Oingo Boingo. I can't say I was a fan going in because I was annoyed as hell at them for the song "Nothing Bad Ever Happens To Me" because I thought it was over repetitive. But they didn't play that song. I actually had a good time and think they played New Wave hits like "Only A Lad", "Goodbye Goodbye" and "Dead Man's Party". At least, that's what I think they played because it's been a long time. The infield turned into a dance party as I saw a dust cloud rise up above a throng of people. People couldn't get enough of Oingo Boingo's polyrhythmic grooves. The early version of the mosh pit continued throughout the rest of the day.

After Danny Elfman's group left the stage they were replaced by the British ska band Madness. They were riding high on the Top 10 smash "Our House" and I had copied that record from my friend Mike also. I remember them being an exciting live band and really getting into "One Step Beyond". The dust cloud dancers had a blast, they had great stage presence that I could see even from where I was sitting.

After Madness' set I was getting stiff in my seat and stretched my head backwards only to be accidentally kicked in the head because of good 'ol cramped stadium seating. The guy apologized because it was an accident. I wish I could say I was tough and didn't show pain but I cried like a baby. Wah.

The Fixx came on in support of their awesome album Reach The Beach, pumping out their stylish pop with clean efficiency. I only had Reach The Beach so I didn't know they had more hits, leaving me floored as "Red Skies" and "Stand Or Fall" came on in addition to "Sign Of Fire" and my fave "Saved By Zero" (now used to sell cars no less!). The romping dust cloud dancers began throwing what looked like either cups or bottles around making them look like a popcorn cooker. The mix of jumping limbs, lobbed garbage flying and dust was a unique sight that I haven't seen happen since. When The Fixx ended their set with the encore "One Thing Leads To Another" the dancers hit fever pitch.

After a pause it seemed like The Fixx got the signal to keep playing, so they played "One Thing Leads To Another" again. The fans loved it. Then, they played it a third time. As much as I liked the song, I didn't want to hear it again and complained once I heard that "pfft pfft" sound at the start of it. The Sun was finally starting to go down and The Fixx was able to leave. We ate coliseum food while waiting for the main event.

As soon as it was dark enough, The Police kicked off their show to the speedy xylophone sounds of "Synchronicity I". The three band members stood in a light like the primary colors from the album cover. The Police were tight and fired up, even playful as Andy Summers ran up behind Sting and stuck his leg between Sting's as if to kick him in the balls. It looked like Sting used his thighs to lock up Summer's leg for a bit which was pretty funny.

The first part of the show focused on side one from Synchronicity as I remember seeing an upright bass for Sting on "O My God" and groovin' to Stuart Copeland's "Miss Gradenko". As the Sun finally faded away completely the giant video screen became more visible. I was thrown off by the mismatch of motion and sound, we were seated so far away that the sound got to us after the picture. So when Copeland's stick was in the air would be when I would hear the drum hit and people would stop on screen before the music stopped. Still, I was grateful to have a close up view of the performers so I can't complain too much.

In the second half they poured on the hits. I recall almost dancing in my chair to "Spirits In The Material World". "Every Breath You Take", "King Of Pain", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Don't Stand So Close To Me", "Roxanne"...the parade of smash hits went on. Funnily enough, the song that stood out the most to me was "Murder By Numbers" as it sounded real good as the night cooled off. The Police played a great concert and was the best live band I had seen up to that point (and I had seen Air Supply!).

We left the coliseum and since we were still in 1983 there was no organization to leaving. It took over an hour to leave the parking lot before we could finally go home. It was a day to remember, The Police would break up a few years later and not reform until 2007 making it an even more special. I kept a one page ad of the concert from the San Francisco Chronicle "Pink Section" on my wall as a reminder. New Wave day was a treat for those of us who couldn't make it to the US Festival, a fantastic grouping of acts that would come to define early 80's pop.
Though this is from an Atlanta performance, here's "Synchronicity I" live from that great year.


Arsenette said...

I adore Spirits of a Material World.. and The Police.. personally I miss the Police more than Sting actually. Never had the privilege of seeing them on stage though.. I came very late to the party. Finally being on my own I was able to catch up to a lot of music I missed and The Police was a band I instantly fell in love with.. (I'm still one of the only people in my friends circle that actually got the "omg this song is about a stalker" for Every Breath You Take the first time around.. and every time I hear it I can't help but crack a smile and Sting's laughter over the audience totally missing it.. LOL

Your experience sounds cool :) Wish I had something like that.

Arsenette said...

Brain fart.. it's Invisible Sun I like better..

Mr. Mike said...

The Police were an awesome band, because they quit while on top they never made a bad album. I didn't get the stalker angle on Every Breath You Take at all until it was common knowledge, but then I tend to be a little slow :)

Arsenette said...

Eh don't sweat it.. I'm one of those people who tends to totally overanalize.. and while most of crappy spanish music people would go all crazy over the beat.. I'm horrified by the lyrics.. I just carried it over to English songs and psychoanalyze the words :p

Oh.. Hubby said "The Police.. yep.. kinda like English Reggae".. He loves the band.

CL said...

I was at this concert and will NEVER forget the flying cups during Stand or Fall.....god it was a ife's memory