Zenyatta Mondatta

Seattle, WA, US
Paramount Theaterwith XTC
Police give arresting performance here...

Debate? What debate? While everybody else watching the candidates, 3,000 assorted rock fans took advantage of the empty streets and zipped down to the Paramount.There they heard a lively political message from The Police: ''When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around.''

Those were the lyrics from one of the band's songs - in fact, it's the title. The British trio practised what it preached, making all of us forget our troubles for a while and dance.

But the dancing didn't start in earnest until Sting, lead singer-bassist, stopped the show in the middle of 'Message In A Bottle' and dressed down the security people for being too rough on persons dancing in the aisles.

''The only people causing trouble are the bouncers,'' he said, pointing to a scuffle near the stage. ''You have been violent. Cool it down''.

That moment turned the crowd around. From then on, the audience was totally with the band. There was dancing everywhere. The crowd started singing along without being coaxed.

After the first encore, the audience did something I don't remember happening before. A chant started in the back of the main floor and spread through the crowd. Then another chant in response developed on the other side, and in the balcony. The band bounced on stage for the second encore, turned on the chants and clapping, and did an electrifying version of 'Next To You'.

The show was tighter, more theatrical than the Police show last February at the Showbox. Last night Sting played a weird electric stand-up bass on some songs. The instrument looked like the next and strings of a slap bass, with the rest of the parts missing. It produced a deep, resonant sound, much stronger than that to the guitar bass.

Once more the reggae and ska-influenced rhythms of Sting and of Stewart Copeland on drums helped make the songs sparkle. Copeland's staccato backbeat on 'Man In A Suitcase' and Sting's thumping bass on 'Bring On The Night' highlighted the strong rhythm line of the Police.

Andy Summers' layered guitar sound was more pronounced than on recordings. Picking with several fingers and using a variety of effects, he produced a rich, seamless succession of notes that seemed to envelop the songs.

XTC, another British band opened the show with a long set of original tunes that struck a fine balance between New Wave and pop, Tunes such as 'Making Plans for Nigel', 'Towers of London' and 'Living Through Another Cuba' made the best of the band's blend of fine guitar-playing, strong lead vocals and slightly cynical political songs.

The show was the first for Modern Productions outside the Showbox. The $30,000 gross will pay a lot of bills for Modern, which has stuck its neck out by bringing unknown New Wave punk and pop bands to worn, often at a loss.

(c) The Seattle Times by Patrick MacDonald