I woke up Saturday morning feeling weird. Something was amiss, strange, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Nonetheless, I gathered myself and decided to greet the day in my usual fashion – by throwing a good devil horn. So, I propped myself up in bed on my left elbow and rose my right arm to begin the throw. But just as I was raising the horns, a sharp pain shot up my arm from my hand to my elbow and a great soreness set in to my hand and wrist. I collapsed. What was going on? What was wrong with my devil horn? I decided to try and raise the left horn and experienced an only slightly less serious pain.
"Honey, I sprained my devil horns!" I gasped in a raspy whisper, which is how I found out I had also lost my voice.
Then I looked around and saw my clothes in a pile by the bed, my belt still through the loops of my shorts, my wallet poking out the back pocket.
Wait a minute, I thought — sprained devil horns, loss of voice, clothes in a pile by the bed. . . these were all signs of excessive rocking.
Then a slow fog began to lift and it hit me — I had indeed rocked excessively at The Police show at Madison Square Garden the evening before. Obviously some sort of short term rock amnesia had set in overnight, but thankfully it was starting to lift. It was all coming back to me now.
When my buddy Dan and I got to the Garden it had been almost 15 minutes since we had ingested alcohol and we were starting to get the shakes. Thankfully, at the Garden they’ve got these actual bars — not just Bud Light stands — out in the walkways. It’s very civilized. So Dan and I are standing at the bar when the crowd explodes inside the arena. Needless to say, we set a land speed record from that bar to our seats. You’ve never seen two stupid-looking guys move so fast.
Looking back on it now, I think the amnesia I suffered was the result of our proximity to the stage and the resulting exposure to extremely high levels of rock. We were three rows from the back right area of the stage. At that range you really should be wearing a protective rock suit, but we were feeling reckless that night. Here’s some crappy cell phone footage Dan took, to give you an idea of the badonkadonk nature of our seats:
Anyway, the obvious question hanging over this tour was whether it would suck. Most often that tends to be the rule with these types of "reunions," with bands waddling through pathetic imitations of their former selves. So it was fair to ask, could The Police possibly plug back into that manic rock engine that powered them with such fury they simply exploded? Could Sting shed the trappings of two decades of self-congratulatory solo material and be merely 1/3 of a band again? And more importantly for the ladies, could he still pull off the tight pants?
Because of our vantage point, that question was immediately answered. Looking from his toned physique down to my fledgling cocktail belly, I felt sad inside. I immediately resolved to throw extra hard devil horns all night to burn some calories. I began.
Meanwhile, the place was going fucking berserk to the opening riff of "Message in a Bottle." It was nuts. The arena was literally bouncing underneath us. There was one dude in the front who was rocking so hard it looked like he was having an epileptic seizure. Hell, maybe he was.
Whatever problems Stuart Copeland was talking about with them sucking ass in Vancouver had long been solved by Friday night. They were tight but not overly scripted, mature but not old. And you realized from the start you were seeing The Police, not some lame "reunionized" version of them.
Sting’s voice was like some peasant genius under the command of its master and Copeland still played drums like he had somewhere to be immediately after the gig and he wanted to be there NOW. Andy Summers had done his homework.
So there they were, 25 years later, ripping through "Truth Hits Everybody," "Can’t Stand Losing You," and "Next To You," songs which, while they had been dialed back a bit from their frenzied late-70’s live tempo, had lost none of their edge. Sting even got up on top of the side stacks and the drum riser, getting in Stewart’s face. No punches were thrown.
Songs like "King of Pain," "Driven to Tears," and "Invisible Sun" were flawless and subtle.
Amazingly, for such a huge gig the show had a comparitively stripped-down feel. The stage was relatively modest, and the production, while big and bright, seemed designed to take a supporting role to the three men on stage, rather than the other way around.
When they started into "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da" (not one of my favorites) I headed for the john. The floor in the pisser was moving up and down even more than out in the arena. This prompted the guy a couple of urinals down to turn to me with a look of concern and inquire, "Dude, the floors moving right?"
"Yeah man, you’re ok," I said.
To which he responded, "Yeah, yeah, FUCK yeah!"
We both returned to our respective seats to continue rocking.
In all, the show felt less like a reunion and more like the next Police show you were seeing after the one you might have seen 25 years ago. After all the speculation about what they would sound like having been away for so long, it turns out The Police had never really gone anywhere.
As for my injuries, I am recuperating nicely and should be able to throw a full devil horn by next weekend, according to my doctor. Looking back, the only thing that saved my left horn from being injured as bad as my right is the fact that a beer was in my left hand for much of the night.
Rest assured, upon completion of a beer the left horn was immediately called into service to deliver a crushing "double horn." The night deserved nothing less.