Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I was at a family gathering on Saturday when an unnamed relative asked me how The Police were. After I told her that the show was great, she got to the real reason for her query:

"Is Sting still hot?"

Oy vey.

OK, let's get to the brass tax of it. Even though I am quite heterosexual, I'm manly enough to admit that I would happily look like that when I am 55. He looked quite good to the babes in a tight-fitting white T-shirt and jeans, while bandmate Andy Summers (who's 64, by the way) looked like he had just gotten off his shift at the local Valvoline quick oil change and decided to jam with his friends.

So Sting wins on style points and hunkyness. What Summers and Stewart Copeland lack in that department they more than make up for in musical talent. Truth be told, ol' Stingo is the weakest link of The Police. However, he writes great songs and his voice is still strong, so he can stay.

The setlist at Madison Square Garden on August 1st was identical to what they've been playing for much of the tour - especially shows in East Hartford and at Giants Stadium. Opening with "Message in a Bottle", the lads came out strong before jumping into "Synchronicity II", a person favorite that I would have liked to have heard later in the set. In fact at that point, with the exception of the obvious "Roxanne", my criteria was accomplished, for the two opening numbers were my favorite songs.

For me, the concert was as much a vacation and a get-away as it was about music. It began with my boarding a Harlem Line Metro North train at Croton Falls. About a half-hour later, The Wife joined me as she got on at Pleasantville. A short time later we were in Grand Central, and soon after in our room at the Club Quarters (a private business-class hotel) on 45th Street. Now I know hotel prices in New York are so obscene that you'd like a kiss as they're ripping you off, but for my money, this was exactly what we needed. Granted the room was maybe a 10x20 TOTAL (now subtract from that for the bathroom!) but the bed was OK, and the place was clean. Come on - it was a treat! Plus Times Square, the Garden, and more were a short walk away. You're on 45th St!

We freshened up in the room, including taking time to hydrate ourselves before walking downtown to grab some dinner. It's funny (not funny ha ha) that New York has so much in terms of everything yet it never seems like you can just take a walk and find a restaurant. At least that's our experience. So soon we were at Madison Square Garden (still the World's Most Famous Arena despite its poorly run basketball team). We were about to begin the walk to the Empire State Building and the Heartland Brewery restaurant (went there before) when we did indeed stumble on a place.

FATS - Fat Annie's Truck Stop

Why was it perfect? There was no wait for a table, cold beer was on tap, and the menu was to our liking. Yes, it was loud (isn't that always the case?) but being so close to MSG, they knew to play lots of Police tunes (they opted for the Synchronicity Tour DVD to see Stingo in his hideous fashion glory...and mullet). The food was good, as I dined on a Roast Beef Po'Boy which included a side of tater tots.

Bonus points to each of you who immediately thought of Napoleon Dynamite.

Dinner gave us some time to talk and get caught up with each other because The Wife and I haven't exactly been operating on the same schedule/wavelength/mood. So despite the noise, we got some things out of our systems - something we would carry on with during the opening act at MSG.

We eventually moved on to The Garden and reviewed the overpriced merchandise before finding our seats. As I mentioned, we talked during the opening act, Fiction Plane, which featured Stingo's son Joe Sumner on lead vocals and bass (just like...the lead singer and bass player in The Police). Based on reviews that I've read of this band, we didn't miss much.

Our seats were good, but to be honest, were they really worth the price? I know The Wife was so happy to finally see The Police (as was I) but no, I have to be honest, these seats weren't that good for the price we paid. The stage was down to our left, and we weren't on the floor. Still it was a rare experience, so I'm not complaining. The stage design matched the show itself. What I mean by that is how I explained the show a day later - no bullshit. Seriously. The stage was nondescript, with three giant overhead screens that largely showed shots of the band and occasionally gave a little something extra. For instance, during "Synchronicity II", the screens and the ribbons below it turned the colors of that iconic album.

Several light towers occasionally came out of the stage bottom, and the overall lighting would change for certain songs, such as "Roxanne", when the stage was bathed in red.

If I have to explain why, then you have failed The Police Knowledge Test. You can now just read for fun.

The other part of the no-bullshit show was that it was just three guys and their instruments. There was no orchestra, or backup singers, or brass section, or anything else. It was just Sting, Andy and Stewart rocking out with some cool lighting and not a lot more. Thanks for that.

The previous criticism of the songs was not valid during our show. I didn't hear the extended jazz segments that had plagued earlier shows. There were some solos that showcased the brilliance of Andy Summers' guitar and Stewart Copeland's drumming, in which he broke at least three drumsticks and kept right on playing.

There's probably no question that the best song of the night was "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic." This song holds particular weight to The Wife because a kid named Billy dedicated it to her at some dance (Enchantment Under the Sea?) back in 1981 or so. The song really pulled the crowd out of its collective seats - assuming one was sitting.

The song also carries considerable weight for me because I used to be a DJ on a radio station called Majic 105. I used to play that song a lot, and dedicate it to The Girlfriend, because most ever little thing she does is magic.

Other highlights? Ooh...tough. In addition to the songs that I've already mentioned that were excellent, and virtually everything was enjoyable (not a clinker to my ears) "Invisible Sun", "Can't Stand Losing You", and "So Lonely" (with its reference to "the Andy Summers Show") were especially good.

Satisfied, we returned to our room thinking about what reunion we'd want to see next. We saw The Eagles in 1994, and said The Police would be awesome at that time (OK, done), or the E-Street Band with Bruce (done), it's hard to say. My obvious answer is never going to happen, because John Lennon was taken from us in 1980. So that led us to Led Zeppelin. Of course the argument there is that John Bonham died in 1980 (a tough year for music). My point was that if The Who could carry on without Keith Moon (or John Entwistle for that matter), then Led Zeppelin could play without Bonzo.

Then on Friday, we heard that there indeed was a rumor, but that seems to be dead, quoting blabbermouth.net
On June 25, 2007, World Entertainment News reported that Led Zeppelin had allegedly agreed to re-form for a special memorial concert in honor of Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic Records who died in December 2006. It was also reported that if the concert went well, the band would go on tour in 2008. The same report suggested that the three surviving members would be joined on drums by John Bonham's son, Jason. [64] However on June 28, Robert Plant made it clear at a press conference that the reunion discussions were false, and once again, the hopes of a Zeppelin reunion were shot down

I digress.

To Friday, where we awoke (late, I might add) to the news of the I-35W bridge collapse. We absorbed that news and headed downtown via Subway to SoHo, where The Wife had a shop that she wanted to visit that was, of course, closed and out of business. Not to worry, with limited money anyway, we enjoyed lunch in Little Italy at Novella on Mulberry Street. Look I'm no expert, but I enjoyed my meal and The Wife seemed to also. What pleased us most was that, in our economic nightmare, both of our New York meals were less than fifty dollars each. That's not easy to do!

We walked and endured the heat, and trudged back to the subway for the beginning of the return trip. One thing - New York's subway system is what it is, but I'll take the London Underground any day. Just my .02.

After our return to Croton Falls, we drove home. As we did so, I glanced at the wife and, in a cheesy moment, told her how much I enjoyed our brief respite to New York. Was it perfect? No - there are still kinks to work out. But it was a start.

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