Police at the Hollywood Bowl

So first, let me say that I’ve not been ignoring this blog, it’s just that nothing fun or exciting ever happens in my life. That said, I did manage to make the Police with Elvis Costello at the Hollywood Bowl on May 28th. Here’s a quick review:

Let’s get this part out of the way: The Hollywood Bowl sucks! At least for rock and roll. It’s a great venue to bring a picnic basket and your spouse to unwind while listening absent-mindedly to some hoary old Mozart or Beethoven medley, but please, for seeing a live rock band it blows. The bowl management makes sure that even the tamest band plays no louder than a Disneyland side show. What fun is that? I want to get myself stone deaf at a concert and this ain’t the place to do it. Another thing that drives me crazy is the parking situation. Take my advice, if you have to go to see a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, take the shuttle from as far away as possible! Traffic around the bowl is worthy of Shanghai at high noon and there is nowhere to park for less than $40!

I dropped Caroline off at the street entrance and wished her the best. I needed almost 45 minutes to find a parking spot, walk half a mile to the bowl and then get cattled through the miserable search line. By the time I made it to my seat, Elvis and the boys were finishing up “What’s So Funny About Peace…”. God, I was furious! No encore either.

After I’d settled down a bit, the Police finally made the stage. Of course, I was down the hill in the beer line (I don’t drink but I’m a nice guy, so…). They kicked off with a somnambulent version of “Synchronicity II” which I watched on the monitor conveniently placed next to the beer kiosk. How thoughtful.  Hmm, Sting has a big, scruffy beard. I wonder what he’s singing? Then they launched into Message in a Bottle and I raced up the hill back to my seat in time to watch Andy’s hands play the main riff and some improvs on one of the four (!) huge screens placed around the stage. Now it was getting good.

A word about those screens: When you’re in the upper decks of the Hollywood Bowl, you only see ants with guitars on stage, so I guess it’s a good thing the huge video screens are there. Even still, some artist saw fit to overlay lots of inane effects on top of the video image. Why? It’s bad enough we can’t see the band, why obscure them on the video screens? What’s the point?

With just the three members, the sound was a bit thin. This worked fine for their original stripped-down tunes but I found myself wishing that they’d added a keyboardist or a backup singer for something like “Every Little Thing”. Is that sacrilege?

In short, the boys sounded great, particularly Stewart who was always the highlight of the Police, IMHO. Andy seemed a little sleepy but I got to watch his hands up close, which was a treat. I wonder how many other guitar players were there watching the big screen through binoculars? 🙂

The set was all hits, no filler, which suited me just fine. It would be just great if they could come back through town again with — dare I say it? — some new material. Dream large, right?

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