I happen to live right around the corner from Dodger Stadium, so Saturday night I was able to luck out avoiding traffic and walk up the hill to catch The Police on their reunion tour stop at the ballpark. ni9n was able to come along for the gig and here is our report:
We got to the ballpark a little early and found our seats. We ended up being next to a couple from Santa Barbara who had been sitting there since about 4pm that afternoon having taken precaution for the worst possible traffic scenario. I’ve actually never been to Dodger Stadium before since my work schedule keeps me from making it to most Dodger games. I’ve been planning to remedy that anomaly for a while, and I guess it’s fitting for me that a concert would be what finally got me inside.
Around 7:30 Sting’s son took the stage with his band FictionPlane. They actually weren’t horrible. I’d say they’re at least as good as The Wallflowers… but honestly I wouldn’t be able to recognize one of the songs they performed if you played it again for me now. I guess a certain amount of privileged exposure is expected when you’re the son of a guy from one of the biggest acts of the late 70’s early 80’s.
I guess I should also note the demographic of the crowd. As I was standing in the line to get to the bathroom the guy next to me asked if I’d ever seen The Police live before. Apparently he did as a teenager, but was amazed at the number of people in attendance who couldn’t have possibly been old enough to have caught them while they were still active. I mean the girl from Santa Barbara sitting next to us was only 20. I’m not sure how old I look to people sometimes, but I was only like 5 or so myself when they split.
After hitting the merch booth and grabbing a key-chain and official program, we got back to our seats just in time to catch the Foo Fighters coming out on stage. For a second there I was about to lose it because from a distance, with blonde hair Chris Shiflett could easily be mistaken for a thin version of Pat Smear. Here’s what ni9n has to say about their high energy performance:
hafta start off with a rather large Thank You to doctashock for getting me into this gig… one of the biggest shows of the year, and I was there for free. Thanks man, I could definitely get used to this.
Dave Grohl is a fucking madman. He’s also a musical genius and the devil, but in my opinion, first and foremost, he’s a god damned madman. He proved this point to us all at the Dodger Stadium on Saturday night. Smack dab in the middle of their set, in the midst of rocking Stacked Actors, he got the wild hair to leave the stage, (and by leave the stage, I mean fly from the stage, guitar in hand, and haul ass through the hordes of savage fans and bumrush the baseball diamond).
Unfortunately, the security at the show wouldn’t let anyone, not even Dave Grohl mid-song, breach the barricade and touch the luscious green grass of Dodger field. But security can’t foil Dave. Dave is like the river which flows around the rock and in this case, the river flowed downstream to the large tower of speakers that were constructed to bring the sound of the Foo Fighters to the fine folks that were a wee less light in their wallets than those sitting down in the field. Dave climbed the mighty stack and performed a heroic solo before high-tailing it back to the stage to finish out the song.
After all that running around, the rest of the band needed a rest. Dave took us into an amazing acoustic-solo rendition of Everlong*. The band, having caught their second wind, rejoined at the tail-end of the classic and brought it home proper.
All in all, the Foo came with the serious energy and really put on a great show. I overheard a guy in the beer line, (by the way, fucking $12 a beer), talk about how hard of an act that would be to follow. Somehow, I doubt that The Police were all too worried about that.
- All My Life
- My Hero
- Times Like These
- Learn To Fly
- Stacked Actors
- Best Of You
* denotes one of the Top 5 songs of the 90’s, as selected by doctashock
Towards the later half of the Foo Fighter set, Dave acknowledged tht Stewart Copeland was watching from the side of the stage. Accordingly during the next song Taylor Hawkins took the opportunity to show off his chops on the drum kit. Quite an awesome drum solo if I may say so myself. By now the crowd was pretty worked up and anxious for the stage to be reset quickly.
Coming out and jumping right into “Message in a Bottle” Sting and company started out the set carrying on the great bit of momentum provided by the Foo Fighters. As they carried on into Synchronicity II, album cover themed splashes of color ripped across the monitors on each side and above the stage. Sting repeatedly prompted the crowd to sing along with several songs, often opting to step completely away from the microphone during a few of the choruses. From there things settled into a nice little groove for the next few numbers. Andy Summers showed off why he deserves just as much critical acclaim as his bandmates during “When The World Is Running Down” and then Stewart got his chance to respond to Taylor Hawkins during “Driven To Tears”. I know David Schatanoff wishes he was there for sure.
Now… this is probably the biggest tour of the summer by one of the biggest bands of all time. The show is going to be good, no questions asked, but as an honest and unbiased music journalist (or fanboy with a soapbox, whichever you prefer), I have to provide some criticism.
After gaining a new appreciation for “Truth Hits Everybody” from Merry Swanksters‘ recent post about “The Ultimate Underated Song by an Overated Band“… I was really anxious to hear them rock it out live in person. Having seen the setlist prior to attending the show via the ever-reliable (wink, wink, tongue in cheek) wikipedia I was aching for that chuggy punk riff to come blazing from the stage. On the other live versions I’ve heard the song had been sped up from the album quite a bit and I just knew this was going to be my chance to REALLY rock out during their set. Unfortunately that did not happen.. oh they played a song, and technically, TECHNICALLY the setlist posted on wikipedia is accurate… but what I heard Saturday night was NOT “Truth Hits Everybody”. They actually slowed it down from the original version to 1/2 maybe even 1/4 tempo, turning it into this strange easy listening saunter. I mean a good song is a good song, so it was still nice… but let’s just say I was disappointed quite a bit.
Another point of contention for me is the lack of a heavy bass-line during “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”. The original version of this track could easily be thrown into the mix at a hardcore Dancehall event without anyone blinking an eye. Again, Saturday night the song they played was a far cry from “da groovin riddum”, I was expecting to hear.
I did read about how the band wanted to rework their own material and have the songs evolve… and I’m all for that, but those two numbers in particular should have stuck with the original formula in my opinion. It can be pretty cool seeing a song live and watching the band jam out and extend the track while showing off their musicianship. This works best however when the jam stays somewhere in the context of the song it gravitated from. After a certain point, if it gets too far removed it becomes masturbation and can quickly lose your audience. While a lot of these moments worked quite nicely on Saturday, I have to say there was a time or two when I wished they would “just play the damn song”.
The main set ended with a crowd-raising sing-along rendition of Roxanne before the band exited the stage to let the crowd cheer and ask for more. They didn’t leave us waiting long and came right back out for the first encore. After a nicely extended version of “King of Pain” The ladies sitting directly behind us convinced me to climb back and join them dancing along to “So Lonely” and “Every Breath you Take”. The aforementioned ladies were convinced they would end on that note and started asking about “the afterparty”, but I knew we would get one more. After making us wait a little while longer this time the band came back out and ended the night with “Next To You”.
The whole show was all said and done by 11:00 and ni9n and I walked back to my place fully appreciating avoiding the traffic fiasco that was the stadium parking lot and adjoining freeway ramps. All in all a very good night topped off by the fact that I still had enough time to link up with some other friends for late night festivities at a house party walking distance from my neighborhood. I returned home in the wee hours to try and get some sleep, but I didn’t end up getting much. I think I was way too excited about Sundays show at the Hollywood Bowl with DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. I’ll have that review up shortly.
Today’s bonus has somewhat of a double meaning… although you may not realize it until sometime in the future. I recently submitted a little write-up to Music is Art for their “song/context/result” series. First off I think it’s actually one of the better “essays” I’ve written as of late and I’m actually quite proud of the piece, but I can’t post it here for several reasons. There’s also another reason this particular track is appropriate but maybe you’ll understand what I’m talking about once it goes up. So for now, here is “Best Of You” as covered by Prince during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLI.