Zenyatta Mondatta

Sydney, NSW, AU
The three-piece English band has come a long way from last year's tour...

The Police's first Australian concert at the Sydney Showground could hardly fail to come up with the kind of excellence that is grooved into their records - because of the sheer weight of devotion and admiration of the 25,000 fans who attended.

The three-piece English band has come a long way from last year's tour. Then they were the Penthouse Punks, who had just made it to the top of the charts with their unique sound and not a little image manipulation. Lead singer Sting was suffering from a throat infection and their songs were strung out with solo preludes to accommodate. They wanted to test and tease their audience and they were cocky, brash and aloof. As the houselights flooded on, an announcement came over the speakers: ''Police T-shirts, posters and programs are on sale in the foyer.''

It said as much about the band as the concert had. They were a product. But this time it was different. Richer and more famous, their place ín rock and roll firmly assured, and with their third album Zenyatta Mondatta their strongest, they wanted to relax and communicate. Dressed in a black headmaster's robe and plucking a string bass (a testimony to his jazz background) the bottle-blond Sting only had to walk out on stage and open his mouth before most of the congregation joined in with 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' - their current anthem on the subject of schoolgirl crushes.

Speaking of crushes, the crowd down the front - where I managed to find a spot until people half my age prodded me with cigarette butts, trod on my toes and generally elbowed me out - was an airless affair with 12-year-old girls fainting by the second. Or at least pretending to faint once they realised that this meant being carried backstage in the arms of a big burly bodyguard at which time the swooning level became more frequent. I spied one who, limp in the arms of a bouncer, suddenly came to life with a big smile and cheery wave as she sailed past the front of stage within touching distance of a most amused Sting.

The Police's communication borders on the tribal. There are rituals to be followed that only the initiated know. They speak in foreign tongue and move in a giant syncopated rhythm that is an awesome spectacle to behold. Like the best bands, the Police's music is simple but a diverse individual musical knowledge and experience gives it hidden depth and power quite amazing for a trio.

Founding member, Stewart Copeland proved himself amongst the very best rock drummers, carrying much of the sound. His fleet staccato rock-beat mixed with spacier quasi-jazz rhythm to complement loping trance-inducing songs like the familiar 'Walking On The Moon' and 'Message In A Bottle' - that coupled with Sting's affected Trinidad accent and Andy Summers's simple effective guitar phrases - come over as more reggae and than rock.

(c) The Australian by Karen Hughes