SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2008
Better Than: What’s better than sitting in traffic for three hours?
Somewhere in Palm Beach County there is a sadistic concert-hater who said, “I know, let’s close half of Southern Boulevard out by the Fairgrounds – that way it will take everyone four times as long to get to the Elvis Costello-Police show.”
This is what happens when you put a concert out at the far western edge of Palm Beach County: Bottleneck. West Palm Beach is a traffic abomination. Everywhere you go they are 10 years behind in widening the roads, starting with I-95, which by the way is still three lanes wide through half the county.
“LEFT LANE CLOSED 1000 FEET” – great. Motherfucking clusterfuck. Two and a half hours it takes me to get from northern Miami-Dade to the Cruzan (used to be Sound Advice used to be Coral Sky) Amphitheatre. My tailgating beers were for naught. I chugged just one, and as I walked from the lot to the stadium, Elvis Costello could be heard singing “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace Love and Understanding. By the time I cleared the gate he was gone, and there were just guitar techs onstage.
The Police opened with “Bring on the Night”. At this early point the concert immediately felt like a Sting showcase, for better or for worse. Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers looked about 10 years older than their frontman, him of tantric sex, yoga, and rain forest-saving. Sting wore a tight-fitting black outfit (only the finest in organic textiles, we’re sure) and mode-ish stubble, strummed carelessly at his nylon string guitar. Copeland looked like he was working for a living, big shaggy gray mop flopping everywhere; Summers got cooking more as the night wore on, but the video screen was not doing him any favors by projecting his liver-spotted, veiny hands.
“Message in a Bottle”: Is it, after all these years, maybe a tad ponderous? Or was I still in a bad mood? Sting owns the crowd comfortably. He introduces Summers as “legendary,” and it is true that the guitaruist played in a late incarnation of The Animals, with Eric Burdon. But still, Sting doesn't sound like he means it as flattery.
“Walking on the Moon”: long jam. Long, long jam. Things get better with “Demolition Man,” even if the black and yellow lighting is a little unsubtle. “Driven to Tears” … “There’s A Hole in My Life” ... they do still have it, but back in my 13-year-old prime I never could've guessed the Police would someday sound like a nostalgia act.
And with that, it's time for our “eee-yo-oh” count: With “Everything She Does is Magic,” we’re up to two. A girl next to me is actually holding her hat on her head and dancing, the same way Sting does in the video, if you remember it from like a quarter of a centuray ago. “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” “De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da.” “Invisible Sun.” By the time Sting sings “I Can’t Stand Losing You” we’re up to four eee-yo-ohs.
"We are not in Orlando. We are not in Tampa!" Sting is shouting. "We are not in Miami. We are in West Palm Beach!" What does he mean by that, exactly?
“Roxanne”: the sing-along. When “King of Pain” comes on I am reminded of the commute. I decide to beat the rush this time. So sue me.
Personal bias: Andy Summers should take his baggy kimono shirt out back with a .45 and put it out of its misery.
Randon detail: Why does Stewart Copeland always seem like he’s on the verge of collapse? “Oh, he doesn’t look confident at all,” says a woman behind me as the drummer appears on the video screen.