22 February 2008, tinman @ 7:23 pm
At The Globe (Crystal Cat Records 839-41)
Stockholm, Sweden – August 30, 2007
Disc 1: Intro, Message In A Bottle, Synchronicity II, Walking On The Moon, Voices Inside My Head, When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Driven To Tears, Truth Hits Everybody, Hole In My Live/Hit The Road Jack, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Wrapped Around Your Finger
Disc 2: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, Invisible Sun, Walking In Your Footsteps, Can’t Stand Losing You, Roxanne, King Of Pain, So Lonely, Every Breath You Take, Next To You
Amsterdam, Netherlands – June 22, 1979
Disc 3: Intro, Can’t Stand Losing You/Regatta De Blanc, Truth (misspelled Truyh) Hits Everybody, So Lonely, Fall Out, Born In The 50′s, Hole In My Life, The Bed’s Too Big Without You, Be My Girl Sally, Message In A Bottle, Peanuts, Roxanne, Next To You, Can’t Stand Losing You/Regatta De Blanc
At The Globe is a must-have for any Police fan.
It’s hard to believe that with over 800 discs, Crystal Cat Records has never before brought us a performance by The Police. They report they have no plans to release any further Police shows. Let’s hope they change their minds.
The production value of the CD, liner notes and discs is superb. Excepting a few typos, the visual quality is so high, At The Globe could easily be mistaken for an official release.
The first concert (discs 1 and 2) is from The Police’s 2007 (continuing into 2008) reunion tour. This is the first show from the reunion tour to be released on silver CD. The source is an incredible sounding audience recording which has been excellently produced. You really can’t expect an audience recording to sound any better than this.
The set list is very representative of the tour. After fine-tuning their set at the beginning of the tour, by the summer of 2007, The Police were consistently playing the set list reflected on At The Globe. The boys are in fine form for this concert. They sound very relaxed and comfortable with the material (which, with a few exceptions, they hadn’t performed as a group for over 20 years), and perhaps more importantly, with each other.
Sting gives Andy a lot of room to create extended and interesting guitar solos on many songs – something he never did during the band’s glory days. As Sting says in the liner notes to The Police’s box set, Message In A Box: “we only ever let him have eight bars [to solo].” In a number of bootlegs from the band’s glory days, Andy can be heard missing cues and making other glaring mistakes. Not so here. In fact, throughout the tour Andy has gotten very positive reviews.
Many of the songs have been slightly reworked for the tour, and in general the reworking ‘works.’ Message In A Bottle and Synchronicity II are great: straightforward and hard-driving. Voices Inside My Head segue ways seamlessly into When The World Is Running Down, and they have a jazzy feel reminiscent of Sting’s later solo work. However, they retain their Police core and sound fine. I have never been a big fan of Don’t Stand So Close To Me when performed live – it never approaches the greatness of the album recording. The same is true here. It’s not bad; just boring. The band does the ‘slow’ version of Truth Hits Everybody, and it is both interesting and good. Hole in My Life doesn’t rock like in the band’s early days, but it still sounds alright. Wrapped Around Your Finger sounds great, and Stewart really shines. Here and later on both Walking In Your Footsteps and King of Pain, he leaves his drum kit for major portions of the songs to play an elaborate array of cymbals, chimes and miscellaneous percussion instruments. Visually, his playing of this array was quite stunning, and it sounds great here. De Do Do Do suffers from a contrived key change, and from Sting singing “De Do Do Do” about a dozen times in a row while leading a call and response of the song’s chorus and title. Can’t Stand Losing You sounds about almost as good as it ever did, and the band must know the Regatta De Blanc interlude is everybody’s favorite part of the live performance of this song because they play it twice. The Police close their show with a 3-song 1st encore and a 1-song 2nd encore. King of Pain and So Lonely sound very nice. Sting even demonstrates his new, more inclusive approach to the band when, instead of singing “welcome to this one man show,” he sings “welcome to the Andy Summers show,” then brings the verse around again to sing “welcome to the Stewart Copeland show.” The final two songs, Every Breath You Take and Next To You, are merely ok.
Overall, the first two discs do a masterful job of representing what the reunion tour has been all about.
The second concert (disc 3) is from an FM broadcast of the band’s June 22, 1979 Amsterdam concert. It seems this is the first time this concert has been released on silver CD, though it was released on professional CDR last year. Coming from the band’s early days, this concert is in stark contrast to the reunion show – a lot more raw and, perhaps, more powerful. The sound quality is quite good and has been expertly produced.
The first half of the concert, the band is raring to go. The songs are fast, loud and fun. Then the band hits The Bed’s Too Big Without You. This concert took place well before Regatta De Blanc was released (in November 1979), so when Sting announces the song, the crowd doesn’t react. Sting is forced to explain “this is a new song.” This early performance is interesting, but it is clear the song is still a work in progress.
From this point onward, the band gets a little off track and out of synch. They can’t quite recapture what they had going prior to The Bed’s Too Big Without You. Even Stewart’s normally impeccable drumming sounds a little off at times.
After the Be My Girl/Sally interlude, Sting announces Message In A Bottle. Again, the crowd doesn’t react, and Sting is forced to explain: ”another new song – you haven’t heard this one.” Even though The Police had been playing Message In A Bottle live since February 1979, the song isn’t tight and the band isn’t entirely in synch.
For the remainder of the concert (with the exception of the Regatta De Blanc interlude in Can’t Stand Losing You), The Police return to songs from their first album. Try as they might, they can’t quite get things going as they had been during the first half of the show. Each member of the band is guilty of little mistakes during the remainder of the concert. Its a shame, because the concert started out very strong.
Overall, the second concert is certainly listenable and often enjoyable, and it makes a valuable addition to a Police fan’s collection. It’s just unfortunate the band’s performance wasn’t better during the second half of the concert.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)
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