Setlist History: The Police Kick Off of the Synchronicity Tour

When The Police kicked off their most successful tour for their most successful album, they were fighting and their dashing singer Sting was clearly looking for a way to dash into a solo career.

Between 1978 and 1983, Stewart Copeland (drums), Andy Summers (guitar) and Sting (bass) had reeled off a remarkable string of five catchy, yet original albums, of increasing popularity culminating with Synchronicity.

Their sound was unique, the lyrics were often deep, their sex appeal was undeniable, and they had somehow moved popular music to come to them instead of the other way around.

The kickoff concert of the year cost $15 in 1983

Plus these handsome blonde devils had MTV completely in love with them and their videos were played in heavy rotation.

Of course the first show of the tour would be at the old Comiskey Park baseball stadium on the South Side of Chicago. And of course they'd break up at the end of the year-long world tour, on top.

WLS radio and MTV were cosponsors of the show. WLS was a 50,000 watt station whose range at night notoriously spread around an enormous portion of the US. Fun fact: WLS stands for World's Largest Store because Sears originally owned the station in the early 1920s.

How popular were they? The first single, the creepy love song told from a stalker's point of view, "Every Breath You Take," became the most-played song on U.S. radio in the history of U.S. radio.

In 2019 BMI recognized Sting for writing the song that was played more than any other. In his speech he talked about how when he was just 13 and heard "You Lost That Loving Feeling" it blew his mind. There were many teens, yours truly included, in the '80s who were blown away by the entire Synchronicity album.

The album was #1 in both the US and UK, remaining on top for an ungodly 17 cumulative weeks. How? Besides the unlikely ballad, "O My God" could easily be assumed to be straight up blasphemous,

Sting's multi colored suit jacket and Stewart's sleeveless tee was so symbolic of the extremely different styles the two Police men had.

"Wrapped Around My Finger" is about a dangerous dance the protagonist has with the Devil himself,

Godley & Creme directed all of the Police's Synchronicity videos and the tour's concert video. Yes, Creme's first name is Lol. LOL.

"Mother" has Summers complaining about his mom while crazy Indian-inspired melodies play behind him, "King of Pain" is Sting in full Emo mode: "there's a little black spot on the sun today, that's my soul up there,"

and "Walking in Your Footsteps" is how humans are just as doomed as the dinosaurs.

Run to Licorice Pizza and buy this record? Run and buy it they did. They played air drums to Copeland's intricately awkward beats, Summers' melodies swirled in their heads, and Sting's lyrics fed their soul.

Gwen Stefani not only ran to the record shop, but at 14 found her way backstage at the Synchronicity Tour when it got to LA and got Sting to sign it.

The Police played Hollywood Park racetrack in 1983. The Thompson Twins, Berlin, and The Fixx opened. Hollywood Park was recently razed to make way for SoFi Stadium where Taylor Swift will bring her Eras Tour to shortly. Will one day a photo surface of her straddling a motorcycle giving an autograph to a future star? Let's hope.

That summer kickoff 40 years ago this weekend was heavily promoted on MTV who were cosponsors of the gig.

So naturally MTV's first VJ, Martha Quinn interviewing the band backstage who naturally ended the chat with an impromptu (?) food fight.

This fight seems forced, but it's still amusing. Especially quiet, sensible Andy stuck in the middle of it.

Other MTV faves Joan Jett, The Fixx, and the Flock of Seagulls opened for a full day of straight up '80s new wave pop rock featuring day glo, sleeveless shirts, poofy hair, and baseball-sleeved concert tees.

What is rarely talked about is Simple Minds had to cancel that night and were replaced by the much darker, more aggressive, Ministry.

Other openers for the Synchronicity tour ranged from James Brown to Stevie Ray Vaughn to Bryan Adams to REM to Oingo Boingo. It was The tour for The album for The band.

Perhaps the most talked about moment of the tour, outside of the Comiskey kickoff was the time Sting and Copeland were roughhousing in NYC before they were to play Shea Stadium and one of the singer's ribs was "broken."

Sting and Copeland bickered, fought, squabbled, but they also made up one of the best rhythm sections in pop music. In the MTV '80s there were several drummers who rose to the top: Rush's Neil Peart, Genesis' Phil Collins, and Copeland. Once Sting went solo and surrounded himself with veteran jazz players, he may have had a few hits, but nothing like what he achieved with Summers and Copeland.

Copeland explained, "everyone saw we were horsing around. Sting grabbed my copy of The New York Times and wouldn't let go. I wanted my New York Times back. I did put my knee in his rib cage, and he did [receive] a hairline fracture of one rib, but it became this story about how we hated each other."

The influential drummer swears the Police love each other when music isn't involved.

The style of the '80s concert shirts were they were either sleeveless or a baseball shirt.

For many reasons the Police's setlist for the tour was heavy on Synchronicity.

All of the songs on the album except two (the aforementioned "Mother" and what can only be assumed as filler, "Miss Gradenko") were played at almost every show on the tour.

So many hits. And even the deep-cuts were magnificent.

Ironically the tune that resonated the most in the set be it in a baseball stadium like Comiskey Park or a cozy theatre: "Every Breath You Take," which almost never became a song if it wasn't for Summers who originally saw nothing special about the diddy.

According to the guitarist who previously to the Police studied Classical Guitar at Cal State Northridge, neither Sting nor Copeland could agree on a way to craft the song. So Sting asked Summers to make it his own.

Eight years ago Summers spearheaded a documentary about the band, and naturally, it's terriffic.

Summers went into the room, thought about the chords, which he says weren't complicated, but instead of strumming them, finger picked it. He laid down his version of the melody in one take and saw those in the booth standing and applauding. And the hit was made.

Would the Grammys feel the way about the Police as the world had? In a way, yes. Synchronicity received several Grammy noms including Album of the Year but that trophy went to an obscure release called Thriller.

Sting loved his stand up bass during the Synchronicity Tour

The Police did go home with three statuettes: the single "Synchronicity II" won for Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group with Vocal, the single "Every Breath You Take" won for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, and Sting won for Song Of The Year for composing "Every Breath You Take."

In 2007 the band reunited for a reunion tour with over 150 dates. They played with even more energy than in the '80s, but the gentlemen decided it was not a permanent thing and have never recorded an album together since their 1983 hit.

The Police are all on tour, but of course, separately.

Beginning tonight in Massachusetts, Summers sets off on a US tour where he not only shows off his guitar skills but his work as an accomplished photographer. Tickets available on his website.

Stewart Copeland has rearranged the songs he helped make famous and this spring released Police Deranged For Orchestra, and is currently on tour in Europe. He brings his massive drum set, singers, and orchestra to the US in the fall. Tickets available on his website.

In 2019 Sting re-recorded and re-arranged 14 of his favorite compositions from his illustrious career. The plague put a halt to the tour but he was able to eventually get it going. Right now he is in the midst of a world tour that will not only bring him to the Hollywood Bowl but will reunite him to his unlikely cohort, Shaggy, in Philly. Tickets are on Sting's website.

Karma Police - Please Share:

Most played songs

Last updated: 25 Sep 2023, 05:21 Etc/UTC