Last Tuesday night I went to see The Police by accident.
Not that police – The Police. As in Sting, Andy Summers & Stewart Copeland. As in Roxanne, So Lonely and Every Breath You Take. That Police.
It’s time for a confession. I bought the tickets so I could sell them on Ebay. That’s right, I became the scourge of true music lovers up and down the land. By one selfish act I violated Rock’s Heritage and almost put it’s Future into jeopardy. I believe the popular term for this activity is “bedroom touting” – which makes it sound a Hell of a lot more risque than it actually was. Does this make me a bad person? It probably does. For my crimes I probably should be whacked across the back of the head repeatedly with a rolled up copy of Uncut Magazine. It’s too bad, then, that my first attempt at wanton larceny backfired so monumentally.
Here’s why I did it: I’m saving up to re-engage with the property market and saw this as an opportunity to make a fast buck off the backs of some high-income bracket rock tourists with more money than sense. Plus, having paid over-the-odds prices for sold-out gigs in the past I thought it was time for some pay back. In short, I saw myself as a sort of latter-day Robin Hood, albeit one who frequents an independent record store located amongst the low-rent backtrees of Sherwood Forest.
Needless to say, it didn’t work out quite as planned. Having bought two of the most ridiculously expensive tickets I’ve ever paid good money for
In the end I bit the bullet and decided to go. After all, as a young ‘un, I was actually a big fan of The Police. I had all their albums and everything. Granted, over time I came to think of Sting as – well, you know – a bit preposterous and everything. I think a lot of people did. Maybe it was just a fashionable opinion to have. In his defence, though, I’ll never forget seeing him perform at Glastonbury in ’97. It was Sunday afternoon and some unruly members of the audience took it upon themselves to hurl plastic bottles at the bleached one, bottles which may or may not have contained their own urine. It certainly looked like that from where I was standing, though I wasn’t close enough to test it with litmus paper. In any case, as Sting was warbling away about being “an alien, I’m an illegal alien” I could see this huge volley of yellow health hazards hurtling towards him. I suppose “Message in a Bottle” would have been more apt. In any case, I tried to turn away and avert my gaze, but couldn’t. There’s something undeniably compelling about seeing an international rock star pelted with piss. And then, just as these hideous Molotov colostomy cocktails were about make contact, Sting gracefully sidestepped each and every one of them without missing a single beat. It was like watching someone dance between raindrops: maybe it was something he learned from doing all that Tantric Yoga. I remember thinking: “What a pro.”
Anyway, back to last Tuesday. I invited my mum along as she’d never been to a full-on Rock concert before and I thought it would make a change from Andy Williams or Tony Bennett. And, besides, she’s my Mum and you have to spoil ‘em every now and then. It started off pretty well – it opened with the aforementioned “Message in a Bottle” followed by a blistering rendition of “Synchronicity II”, one of my favourite Police tracks – but as the evening progressed I felt a growing sense of unease. I couldn’t help but think of how much the night had cost me. With the money these seats cost I could go to between six or even eight gigs at the Birmingham Academy, twenty or more gigs at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath or possibly arrange a hostile take-over of the Jug of Ale in Moseley.
As the band played their classic hit ‘So Lonely’ I muttered something under my breath as I heard the line: “Just take a seat they’re always free.” As I saw people leaving the venue before the encore because they were sensible and wanted to avoid the rush, I seethed. There they were – in their Blue Harbour jeans and tucked-in, generic-slogan t-shirts heading off to their gas-guzzling, military-surplus SUVs – prematurely vacating the most expensive seats in the house. These were just the sort of high-income bracket rock tourists I wanted to fleece!
For a brief instant I looked at the empty bottle by my feet and roughly calculated the trajectory between me and them. But my mum was there, and she was enjoying herself. I couldn’t ruin the night for her. Besides, she’d have only whacked me across the back of the head with a rolled up copy of Uncut Magazine….