Chicago, IL, US
Comiskey Parkwith Ministry, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, The Fixx, A Flock Of Seagulls
Police steals show from battery of bands...

Saturday's daylong rockfest at Comiskey Park, which boasted a lineup of five acts, proved to be a genuine triumph for one of the groups - the Police - and MTV.

The latter is not a band but a cable network that programs nothing but pop music videos, which were shown on the park's big screen during the set changes between acts. Not only did it provide diversion, but some of the videos got bigger responses than some of the live acts.

The concert featured Ministry, the Fixx, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, A Flock of Seagulls and the Police, which currently has both the best-selling album and single in the country and headlined the show. And while all of the bands provided some entertaining moments, it was clearly the Police that most of the crowd was waiting to see. Few, if any, of the other bands probably will remember Saturday's audience as their most enthusiastic.

The most embarrassingly under whelming reception, given her huge popularity in some quarters, was accorded Joan Jett.

Jett is one of the hardest-rocking women in rock, a performer best known for her hit, 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' and her tough, straight-ahead style. That style, however, was largely at odds with the rest of the day's lineup which featured dance-orientated, synthesizer-based pop (or ''new music,'' to use the current catch phrase.

Though the new music-hard rock twain can and sometimes do meet, synth-pop fans as a rule aren't all that big on hard rock. Jett tried hard, opening in high gear with 'Bad Reputation' but her attempts to rouse the crowd on 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' fell flat, and there was little demand for an encore.

A Flock of Seagulls, which followed Jett, fared far better. Diversity isn't the Seagulls' strong suit (much of the material, with its rolling, whining synthesizers and urgent guitars, sounds alike), but the band's techno-pop is some of the catchiest around. (Not to mention the fact that lead singer Mike Score's hairdo, which involves winglike side effects and a wonderfully goofy bang that practically covers his nose, is one of pop's most eye catching.)

It was a good set, and the encore was deserved, but things never quite got beyond good to become great.

It was only with the arrival of the Police, whose set was accompanied by live video of the band's performance, that the crowd - and the event - began to take on real excitement.

In the past, the Police's mix of pop and reggae often has seemed uncomfortably close to the sort of synthetic calypso one could imagine being played at Club Med. These days, the trio (accompanied on tour by a couple of black-robed female back-up singers whom lead singer Sting introduced as the Nuns) has broadened its musical base and sounds much the better for it.

Also on the bill were the Fixx, which turned in a creditable, if not particularly memorable, performance and Chicago-based Ministry, which was both entertaining and memorable. In addition to the MTV clips, the most entertaining between-acts moments came when a couple of kids - one taking the Peter Townshend part and the other doing a Roger Daltrey imitation - mimed their way through the Who's 'Won't Get Fooled again', which was playing over the park's public address system.

(c) The Chicago Tribune by Lynn Van Matre