Grousing The Aisles: The Police Edition

The Police 02/21/79 SBD (MP3):

Rock Goes to College was a BBC series that ran from 1978 to 1981 — the show featured the most popular bands of the day performing at British colleges. The beginning of 1979 found The Police hitting its stride,and gaining massive popularity in England. On February 21st, 1979, The Police recorded an episode of Rock Goes to College at Hatfield Polytechnic. Can’t Stand Losing You opened the show and really got the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. The debut of Message In A Bottle is probably the highlight of the 90-minute set. It was quite the bold move debuting a new song on television to a national audience.

Other highlights from the high-energy set include Truth Hits Everyone, Hole In My Life, and Peanuts (Hole In My Life features a tasty tease of The Beatles’ Fixing A Hole). The band was clearly clicking this evening as you can hear throughout this recording, which was ripped from the television broadcast.

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The Police 2/2/81 SBD (MP3):

After spending six months on the road supporting Zenyatta Mondatta, The Police headed across the Pacific for a series of gigs in Japan and Australia to end the tour. This Tokyo show finds the boys having fun with a new distinctly different audience. The perfect Police show features a great setlist, killer improvisation and a pissed-off Sting. All three of those aspects came together, as the band tore through a bombastic set for the Japanese crowd.

Sting was pissed off because of the temperature on the stage at the Budokan. Throughout the show Sting drops a few mentions of how cold he is before changing a verse of Roxanne to “I wish that someone close the door at the back of the stage. It’s giving me pneumonia. It’s giving me pneumonia. Please close the door at the back of the stage.” Stewart makes fun of Sting’s plight, which only incenses the bass player even further.

The banter between Sting and Stewart as So Lonely begins is hilarious. Sting starts the song with his “I feel so…. I feel so…” intro when Stewart interjects “like a twat!” Geez, you’d really think these guys hate each other. Sting responds by starting the song early, which screws up Stewart, who then yells out “very sneaky.” The music from this show is amazing, but the banter is worth the download alone.

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The Police 6/15/86 FM (MP3):

In 1986, The Police briefly reformed to play the last three shows of the A Conspiracy of Hope tour. A Conspiracy of Hope was put together by the leaders of Amnesty International to draw attention to the plight of the human rights organization (other bands that performed with The Police included Peter Gabriel, U2, Bryan Adams, and Joan Baez). The last night of the tour featured a major blowout at Giants Stadium that was broadcast live on MTV. Ending the night’s festivities was a seven-song set by The Police that wound up being the last show the band would play until their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 17 years later.

You’d think after a two-year layoff the music would suffer. But that wasn’t the case, as every song The Police played that evening was done brilliantly. The band augmented their lineup with Kenny Kirkland on keyboards, who added great tones to songs such as King of Pain and Invisible Sun. Other highlights were the Message In A Bottle opener and Driven To Tears. Bono joined the band for Invisible Sun, and then everyone who played on that night’s bill joined the band for the I Shall Be Released closer. Towards the end of the show the members of The Police passed their instruments to the members of U2 in a symbolic gesture of the old biggest band in the world giving way to the new biggest band in the world. Sweet.

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What have you been listening to this week? Leave a comment below….

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