Edinburgh, GB
The Playhouse
Perfect crime...

A couple of days before tonight I was looking through a record shop rack of Police albums when a softly drunk Irishman presented himself and told me: ''The Lord Is My Shepherd, I shall not want. You like the music do ye? Ah, 'tis a slight reflection of God's nature.'' Then he walked off. Sting would have loved it.

Well, God must be feeling pretty nostalgic just now for we have a greying D.L.T. introducing Slade, Genesis, and Cliff Richard into the charts, rock is growing old again. But The Police are, as always, above it all; they forge away non-stop, musical sparks showering, turning base metal into gold, three golden statuettes with Sting as the Oscar, the glittering prize-fighter.

On stage he is all angles, tall and straight like a gilded heron, hair flown back in a blond gale, cheek muscles sunken just so - intelligent, untouchable, inscrutable, in him there is a the choirboy voice, high pitched and blond like him. He is a calming effect on the pandemonium in the stalls, as if the audience realise they have just summoned a demon. No doubt, for a long while I have thought The Police were in league with the devil, with every single a perfect beat, ever more correct and so musically right it's ridiculous.

Sting is the freak for a freak band. Amazing what you can do with contorted reggae; Andy Summers is the orbital blond around Sting's planet, picking and chopping and bending the notes he looks sad - almost invisible. Stuart Copeland is the wacky one, he pops and blams away as the superbrat backbeat blond. A freak band with that stringy reggae rhythm and that clarity of song and idea that produces an eloquence with commercial sound that has been refined to a live perfection.

Songs like 'Every Breath You Take' and 'Everything She Does' have tapped the secret stream of early Beatles, able to affect at all levels and attractive to the punky girls and the executive salesman as well as the schoolkids and the bored critic. Playing a line of songs that are a list of awesome abundance of commercial brilliance; 'Walking On The Moon', 'Message In A Bottle', 'Invisible Sun', 'Don't Stand So Close', 'Roxanne', 'So Lonely'... I won't go on, it is a list that makes stars.

Early hits together with the sound of 'Synchronicity' and 'Ghost In The Machine' are a strong mix of bubbling champagne and blood. 'Walking On The Moon', a shaping, bouncing happiness, becomes the dark and fearful 'King Of Pain'. So the songs change, the seconds grow more serious, the ideas complex, the lyrics twisting into 'Synchronicity', a caustic remark on the world. Increasingly, their music becomes Sting's attempts at making sense of it all.

The concert hall has become a vehicle to advance the ambition and indulge the personality for there is an air of cunnings ruthlessness about them now, almost replacing past exuberance. They come, see, conquer, without a flicker of the heart? I hope not. Not much fun is apparent; they are half-settled into being untouchable and the live show is the only access to their CIA secret world of success. Smash Hits have become a reflex action for them, like going to the toilet. Do they go to the toilet?

They are royalty, no argument, but there is a little hint of endearment. Humourless and hedonistic, they beam out a series of superb songs full of automatic hooks that you sing without thinking. It must be hard to stay human when you become solidified stardust. The absolute pop group.

Sting dances, leaps and strains the notes out; the non-drinking-smoking-drugging man who lives purely on the feedback from his own power, he has mastered the way of the great pop tune, expounding with logic and following with a withering contempt for those who dare to challenge. Frightening, really, and up close the cold anger of the new songs is very apparent.

But who is to challenge them? This level of looks, image and immaculate songwriting is not easy to obtain. Durex Durex? Not a hope; maybe in pounds and pence but nothing else. Somehow The Police are now detached from the mainstream of pop and still remain accessible. The likes of 'King Of Pain' are songs that have reached a new stature which is even more apparent live, Sting's enunciation and delivery making the lyrics a power in themselves.

The secret is that they are still exploring; there is no re-treading of old tracks, and they progress and expand with a continuous refinement of ideas. Soon they may no longer talk to us and climb to a high pinnacle, an invulnerable eyrie, only known to themselves, where they can survey the world below them. 'So Lonely' is the final devastating encore and a sweet-bound Sting signs an autograph and leads them away.

They live up to the myth. This was a public unveiling of an as yet unbroken promise but it is somehow a cold cry, this Police music. Despite the sweat I realise there were no prisoners taken, and am left with a prevailing feeling of having just been put to the sword.

(c) Melody Maker by Bob Flynn

Police fire the fans - Playhouse worship for supergroup...

A triumph for The Police at the Playhouse last night. What else! The Edinbugh theatre automatically sold out and another 3,000 fans will be there tonight to pay homage to the group who've made a million in terms of records and cash since they last played the Edinburgh area, at Ingliston on Hogmanay 1981.

Lead singer/bass guitarist Sting, lead guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland, backed by yhree legyy girl singers who seemed to be there more for decorative purposes had their audience with them virtually from note one on, and by the time they'd finished their first four number selection with 'Message In A Bottle', it sounded as if they'd been on stage for an hour or more.

With The Police, there's no problem warming their public.

After 'Message', Sting, more accustomed to 30,000 than 3,000 said, ''I'm not so nervous now. How do you feel?''

The people fortunate to get tickets were feeling good, fired by 'Walkin on The Moon', 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' and 'Walkign In Your Footsteps'.

But The Police were well into the set before Summers and Sting seemed to attempt any ''serious'' guitar work with the descriptive 'Tea In The Sahara'.

This was the first of sixteen concerts in a nine-city UK tour and even a group of this standing find the cost of touring near enough prohibitive. They've got the Guinness people sponsoring all of their shows and the brewing giants already are claiming it's well worth their time and money because it's taking their product to a younder market.

So the message IS in a bottle, in more ways than one.

With Duran Duran due at Ingliston tomorrow night, Edinburgh is where the action is at the moment, and I understand that both supergroups are planning a celebratory party tonight after the Playhouse show. The rave-up will take place in a ''secret'' city hotel.

Meantime the Playhouse has added Dr Hook and the Thompson Twins as New Year attractions.

(c) The Edinburgh Evening News by John Gibson