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Concert Review: The Police At Wrigley Field

Photo by Al

I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain
-- The Police, "King of Pain"

While the Cubs were dispatching the Nationals handily in Washington 4-2, largely thanks to the contributions of Daryle Ward (two hits, two RBI), Mike Fontenot (three hits) and the bullpen (3.2 innings of scoreless relief), and moving to within 4.5 games of first place with the Brewers' loss in Pittsburgh, I was at Wrigley Field.

For more on last night's game check out the diaries by NittanyCub and Chris.

Being at Wrigley Field last night for the concert by the band that, from 1978 to 1984, was the #1 rock band in the world, was somewhat surreal. Everything surrounding the neighborhood and the ballpark was the same... only different. The feel of the crowd was different, although certainly many, besides myself, attend Cubs games there. People were dressed differently, much more "dressy" than for a ballgame -- there were a few people, though not many, wearing Cub clothes, including, at the very end of the set, Police drummer Stewart Copeland, who came out for the encores wearing a Cubs home jersey with "COPELAND 07" on the back.

Those of us who had field seats (the photo above is taken from my seat, right about the spot where Alfonso Soriano patrols left field -- they did ban cameras, and I didn't see any, except for camera phones, which is how I took the photo) entered through the bleacher gate, then went down the LF concourse and directly through the area where the ground crew stores all the Turface that they use during rain delays (there was, instead of the Turface, a large store of grass seed which will be used to help restore the field). The entire field was covered with plastic, which hopefully will allow the grass to breathe somewhat, although the case with almost every concert that's been on a grass spots field has been that the grass has been pretty severely damaged. Let's hope that's not the case here.

You could walk right up to the edge of the infield and peer into the dugouts; security, though omnipresent (both Police-hired security and Cubs security), was pretty laid-back.

The opening act was FictionPlane, a British band fronted by Sting's son Joe Sumner. They're pretty hard-rocking, and finished their set with a song laced with F-bombs, which I thought somewhat inappropriate for a crowd that was filled with the forty- and fifty-something fans of the Police and their kids (there were MANY kids in attendance). Sumner said that FictionPlane's drummer Pete Wilhoif, who was wearing a 1980's era Cub road jersey, was "a longtime Cub fan" -- don't know if this is true or not.

Both bands kept pretty much on schedule, because of the local noise ordinances which prevent concerts from going on much past 10 pm (the last encore ended about 10:10); the Police finally came out about 8:25, and played what everyone wanted and expected -- all their hits. It struck me that every single song of the (approximately, I didn't count) 20-song set was a monster hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and the Police, for their six or seven year reign, was every bit as big a band on the world stage as, say, U2 is today.

Despite the reportedly acrimonious breakup of the Police in the mid-1980's, all three of them at least looked like they were having a good time, particularly Stewart Copeland, who is an absolute wizard on the drums -- and everything else he puts his sticks to. Wearing the Cubs jersey was a nice touch, though he could have had it on the entire evening rather than just for a fifteen-minute encore. Sting is now almost 56 years old and on some songs his voice didn't hit the high registers that he was so well-known for -- except on "Roxanne", the final song before the encores, where he hit the high notes perfectly.

Early in the show Sting mentioned that the last time they had played in Chicago was in 1983 -- at the old Comiskey Park. That brought boos from many of the Cub fans in the crowd, and I don't think Sting really understood why. He also mentioned that they had played at the old Riviera at Lawrence & Broadway in 1978.

And as I looked around at the crowd surrounding me, many of whom weren't even born when the Police were the #1 band in the world, listening to all the great music of my youth, I realized that this is a way of connecting generations, because the music of the Police still resonates, more than twenty years after they broke up. If you're going tonight, you'll have a terrific time. At one point Sting asked for the crowd to "get loud", and they did. But it was still louder when Aramis Ramirez hit the walkoff HR last Friday.