The Police: Synchronicity Concert [DVD]

Charlotte Robinson

The Police

Synchronicity Concert [DVD]

Label: Universal
US Release Date: 2005-11-08
UK Release Date: 2005-09-12
Amazon affiliate

It's strange to watch the Police's Synchronicity Concert with the clarity of hindsight. At the time of its videocassette release in 1984, it seemed like a good concert. Seeing it 20 years later on the new DVD release, it's hard not to look for the cracks beneath the surface. And they are there in abundance. While the Police were successful almost from the start, it took the 1983 Synchronicity album to make them superstars, but by the time it hit shelves, the band was fraught with tension and about to break up. At this Atlanta performance, captured by the directors Godley and Creme in November 1983, the band gives a technically good performance, but doesn't muster up much energy. If there is a charge in the air at all, it's thanks to the stadium full of fans. Although the Police were a great band, the crowd's adoration almost seems to be the result of a series of misunderstandings. Two preteen girls sing along happily to the line "their logic ties me up and rapes me" from "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da". A couple steals a kiss during the scary stalker song "Every Breath You Take". The crowd seems ecstatic to see a lackluster show.

There are plenty of opportunities to observe the audience, thanks to the choices made by Godley and Creme, who made a string of intriguing videos in the '80s, from Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" to their own "Cry". While their video work has held up nicely, the same can't be said of Synchronicity Concert, which is full of distracting and horribly dated video effects. The offstage footage is gratuitous, and even includes a couple of shots of a guy at a mixing board. Maybe the directors felt we needed to see this because the action onstage is not very exciting. The Police only seem to be having fun when they come back for an encore, but even then, it doesn't appear that drummer Stewart Copeland is talking to anybody else. It doesn't seem accidental that Sting introduces Copeland after the backing singers. Ouch!

Despite the questionable direction and lack of energy, the musical performance is actually pretty good. Guitarist Andy Summers comes off particularly well, using effects to produce rich and full sound textures. Between Summers and Copeland, the Police produce a surprising amount of sound for a three-piece, and Sting is in good voice except on the challenging opener "Synchronicity I". A few songs devolve into unnecessary jams, and "King of Pain" practically becomes a sing-along, but otherwise the band is in good form. The main problem with the performance is that the three female backing vocalists are featured too often and too prominently, plus they just don't sing well together or with Sting. Unfortunately, there isn't a "no backing singers" audio option on the DVD menu, although there are a few extras in addition to the 75-minute concert, including an unintentionally amusing trailer for the original video release ("a performance staggering even by Police standards -- are you are there!") and short interviews with each band member conducted in 1984 at the last Police show. The highlight of the bonus material is the inclusion of four multi-angle extra tracks ("Synchronicity II", "Roxanne", "Invisible Sun", and "Don't Stand So Close to Me") that seem to have higher audio and video quality than the concert itself.

Synchronicity Concert is nowhere near the level of concert filmmaking as something like Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, but for Police fans, it will be a necessary acquisition, especially for the bonus tracks. It's just unfortunate that there isn't a full-length concert film of the band in happier and more inspired times.







A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Prof. Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.