Police Picnic 83 mylifeinconcert.com

19. (EP 27) Walking on the Moon: Police Picnic ’83 featuring The Police, Peter Tosh, James Brown, King Sunny Adé, Blue Peter, and The Fixx, CNE Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Friday August 5, 1983

Three consecutive summers of Police Picnics — and four consecutive summers of music festivals — come to a close for me with this final edition.

Click here for Police Picnic 1981

Click here for Police Picnic 1982

Ticket Price = $20 (2022 Price = $53 Canadian)


It’s the third and final Police Picnic on August 5, 1983, once again at CNE stadium, as well as the 4th and final consecutive summer of attending a huge, open air festival.

This time around the fest featured James Brown, Peter Tosh, King Sunny Adé, Blue Peter, and The Fixx along with the titular hosts.

While the first fest ran overlong but otherwise smoothly, the 1982 edition was the worst concert experience of my lifetime, even if the music was good.

As was also the case with 1982, this 1983 excursion came complete with a drug misadventure …. wait, scratch that last bit. What’s the opposite of “misadventure”?

For this episode, not only will Special Guests aka Phil Robinson be re-joining in looking back on this event, his pal from back in the day, Noelle, also joins us in this episode. The two of them went to festival along with a group of people and reconnect live for the first time since the 80s, and help each other piece together their experiences from that day.

So, it’s a first for the podcast, with a 3-way interview and reminiscence.   We not only recall the show but also touch on late-night speakeasys, mammaried Police enthusiasts, how lucky we were to have The New Music, import 45s, and where did Simple Minds play here in London in the early 80s?

Please tune in dear listeners for a euphoric day of great music, accidently taking narcotics, being trapped in a revolving door, smashed porcelain smokers on Queen Street West, and a goodbye to the tea-drinking Police, who were in Synchronicity with the world at that moment. 

Next on Stage–>: Join me next time as I recall one of my Top Three best shows I have ever seen here in my hometown of London, Ontario, Canada, when the one, the only, the legendary & the regal Marianne Faithfull grants us an audience on a packed-to-the-rafters Fryfogles on a steamy, August night.

This hotly anticipated show was a distinctly more intimate experience than the Police Picnic.  By this point in time, the former Jagger paramour and ‘60s pop icon was in the final throes of a triumphant, early ‘80s comeback, triggered by her late 1979 LP Broken English, one of the true all-time classics.  At this point in ’83, she was touring her third Island disc, A Child’s Adventure.

Conveniently, she began her tour at my local watering hole.

Indeed, this date kicked off her first-ever Canadian tour, with London lucking into hosting this debut performance.

Join me next time for thigh-slappin’ rhythms, backstage gossip, contented smiles and … dangerous acquaintances.

021. (EP 28) Dangerous Acquaintances: Marianne Faithfull, Fryfogle’s, London, Ontario, August 15, 1983

Click here to read the original 2011 blog entry.



Another summer, another all-day music festival in Toronto headlined by The Police. The last of the three, in fact.

It was part of the band’s final tour undertaken during the time of their original existence, as a promotional vehicle for their fifth album, Synchronicity, which was an immediate blockbuster upon its early June release. Advertised as being along for the ride this time were former Wailer and reggae legend Peter Tosh; the brilliant King Sunny Adé and His African Beats; bland, contemporary new wavers The Fixx; Toronto’s own Blue Peter, then nearing both a career peak and the last throes of their existence; and, best of all and initially the biggest reason for my purchasing a ticket, Scotland’s Simple Minds, then finishing up their global flogging of what is for my money one of two truly brilliant long-playing moments from their career: 1982’s New Gold Dream (the other being 1981’s Sons and Fascination).

Police Picnic ’83 was held at CNE Stadium, as was the 1982 edition, and I again attended with my friend, Le Château (Lady Bump, who had come along to the first Police Picnic as well as the second, sat this one out). As was also the case with Police Picnic ’82, this year’s shindig involved yet another drug misadventure for us.

Wait, scratch that. This time around it definitely wasn’t a misadventure. What’s the opposite of that? Bonadventure?

Once again, it was all down to pills. I really can’t remember at what point I stopped taking speed, but I was certainly still a pillhead of sorts as late as ‘83/’84. Just as it was with the 1982 festival situation, I can’t recall why we didn’t have any to take with us, bennies usually being as ubiquitous as leather jackets and Chuck Taylor sneakers in the circles I was operating in. But, for whatever reason, cupboards clearly were bare at that time. I do recall that we had a fifth of vodka to devour on the two-hour bus ride to Toronto (we skipped Music Mann tours following the nightmarish experience the previous year, this time pooching any ideas of smuggling in booze or taking in a cooler, blanket or other cumbersome items), and something to puff on at some point, but no black beauties.

MLIC>Walking on the Moon: Police Picnic '83

MLIC>Walking on the Moon: Police Picnic ’83 is my companion Spotify playlist featuring tracks from the artists who performed at this final festival.

Le Château and I caught the mid-morning bus to Toronto in order to spend a bit of pre-festival time in the city before heading over to the stadium for the day’s shenanigans. It was a warm, sunny, early July Friday morning, and LC and I set to work on polishing off the bottle — sans mix or chaser! — once boarded, settling into one of the near-the-back twinned seats. It was instantly clear to us that the entire back section of the bus was heading to the festival. Merrymaking ensued.

During the concluding leg of the journey, a fellow who was seated in our area began making the rounds of the obviously festival-bound folk, flogging his chemical wares. He offered to sell us bennies, and I came back with an emphatic “NO!” I wasn’t going through a repeat of last year’s drug-related horrors at Exhibition Stadium. But upon return from the bathroom, I found LC sitting with his wallet open and few bills out.

He had talked to the dealer who assured LC that the pills were good — not just good, but great. So great that he was recommending to everyone who bought them to take only one at first to see how they responded. To demonstrate that he was on the level, the dealer said to Château that he’d take his dose then and there. At that moment, Mr. Dealer reached into the bag, randomly grabbed one, and downed it.

With that, LC felt they’d be ok and I somewhat hesitantly concurred. We each bought a few, and I distinctly remember looking at them and thinking that they were substantially larger than the black beauties I was used to taking. “Perhaps they’ll have a bigger, longer kick,” I reckoned.

PolicePicnic82AD.jpg An advertisement from my archives for Police Picnic 1983. Simple Minds were initially slated to appear but ended up being replaced by funk legend James Brown.

Soon thereafter, as the Greyhound was pulling into the station, Mr. Dealer stood up once again to address his customers, reiterating that we should all start by testing out one pill only until we had gauged if they were possibly too potent. Having scored them a few days earlier and been knocked sideways by the l’il darlins — but in a good way — he de-encapsuled one of them to study its contents. He concluded that there was probably something else in these babies besides speed.

No shit, Sherlock. A more accurate query to ponder would have been as to whether there was any amphetamine in them at all. They kicked in for both of us shortly after disembarking and the impact was swift and substantial. In retrospect, it’s abundantly clear to me that we had taken a narcotic, not merely a stimulant such as speed, and a strong one at that. Rather than the usual teeth grinding, body flashes, and that …

zoomingandneedingtodoeverything RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW andreallyquicklywithanabundanceofenergy

… feeling that came with speed, this was the polar opposite.  Everything seemed liquid and … waaaannnnerrrflllllllll …..

I was consumed with a full body serenity, feeling like I was floating along Yonge St. rather than walking down it. I was engulfed in an invisible cocoon, observing all that was bustling and whirring around me, yet removed. It seemed like I was watching downtown Toronto through a life-size movie screen while in a warm, relaxing bath, everything unfolding in front of me in muted slow motion. Whatever this was we took, it was golden. We were both in a “whoa” mode, relating to each other how we felt. The adventure was on. Suffice it to say, at that point I’d wished I bought the whole bag.

It also came with a certain numbness that was highlighted when Château and I decided to head into the Eaton’s Centre (the mega-mall opened in downtown Toronto in the late 1970s) and I got stuck in the revolving doors trying to make my way in. I pushed and pushed with my left hand but — midway through revolving — the door simply locked and I couldn’t get it to budge. I turned around to see if I could deduce why, and discovered that there was indeed something jamming the doorway.

It was my right arm.

Two other events stick out in my mind from our early afternoon wanderings in the city. First, we ended up doing the rounds on Queen Street West, Toronto’s hipster area, and descended the stairs into this one particular basement boutique. As I entered, with my arms swinging like rubber ribbons in a wind, that same naughty right hand slammed into a vintage smoker, smashing the ceramic ashtray as it crashed to the floor. Mortified, I began apologizing profusely, but the perky alternagirl working there simply flashed a smile and said not to worry about it. “That happens all the time, and we have a bunch of them in the back.” Sure enough, before we left, the mess had been cleared up and a replacement smoker was in its stead.

Grandmas Smoker BLOG

My late grandma’s smoker, circa late ‘50s/early ‘60s, now a fixture in our living room. Luckily for me and the smoker, it never made its way to a certain hipster boutique on Toronto’s Queen Street West in the ‘80s (Photo by VA).

The second thing took place on one of the backstreets around the CityTV building. As LC and I staggered around the perimeter of the Toronto broadcasting studios in our surreal daze, a side door opened just as we walked by it. Who should emerge but Andy Summers from The Police and Jeanne Beker, now best known as the host of FashionTelevision but was then the co-host of City’s landmark music program, The New Music. Just the two of them: no other security or peeps of any kind.

A real WTF? moment.

Beker had done a famous interview with Summers during one of the previous Police tours, as he soaked in a tub. In the process, the two became chums of sorts. When we happened upon them, they were probably exiting discreetly following a pre-show interview at the CityTV studios and, thinking quickly, LC quickly procured a pen from his knapsack and got Summers to autograph his pack of cigarettes while Beker stood around impatiently. What I most recall is Summers — who has a decade on his other bandmates — looking substantially older in person than he did in his then-contemporary photos. Ahhh, the magic of a good make-up artist, the right lens, and airbrushing.

  Andy Summers and Jeanne Beker reunite 30 years later on FashionTelevision, here recreating the famous bathtub interview from The NewMusic, only with both of them in the tub this time. Note Summers’ hair catching on fire at 2:30 minutes.

Shortly thereafter, the two of us moseyed on down to Exhibition Stadium on the grounds of the CNE, wafting effortlessly through security, and staking out a good place on the football field, to the left of the stage, about one-quarter of the way back.

Our pal Special Guests was also there that day, attending with his friends Noelle, Sammy the Goose and W. We were going to look out for each other but — surprise, surprise — never did catch up in that sea of people. He doesn’t remember much besides that “we took a picnic, and I snuck in a bottle of vodka down the front of my pants. Sammy the Goose and I spent the day wandering around. We got to the front of the stage and just walked through the crowd. We got talking to a couple of girls who invited us to a party (we didn’t go) and arguing with some woman for some reason.”

Toronto’s Blue Peter (or Blue Penis as they were oft cheekily re-named in my circle) had already begun their set by the time we arrived, warming up the crowd. BP had emerged from the late ‘70s Toronto punk scene, gradually turning into a poppier, and then funkier, latter-day-Roxy-Music-esque proposition as they made their way into the early ‘80s. By this point, they’d cultivated a national following and landed on the radio with hits such as “Chinese Graffiti” and their then-current number, “Don’t Walk on Past.”

BADGES Blue Peter

 A Blue Penis, er, Peter badge (courtesy of Ms. P) and their hit at the time of the PP83, “Don’t Walk on Past.” A 1983 flashback.

This period turned out to be their career peak, as they eventually disbanded two years later (When I think of Blue Peter, I always recall having a humorous debate the following summer at about 4 a.m. at an afterhours boozecan with vocalist Paul Humphrey and my friend The Bass Player, arguing the merits of David Bowie’s David Live vs Stage — they were incredulously championing the former, me the latter).

Somewhere in and around this time, LC and I decided to each take a second pill, now that the effects were winding down after several hours having passed. Again, within short order, that full, floaty feeling flooded back, each of us a sea of radiant pharmacological splendor — and just in time for the day’s highlight: King Sunny Adé and His African Beats.

An established star in his native Nigeria, he was at this time beginning to court the international market starting with the release of his Juju Music album: a collection of some of his best material, edited down from its standard 20-minutes or so lengths to more bite-sized, Western-ears-friendly chunks.

JuJu Music Cover Blog

JuJu Music, King Sunny Adé and His African Beats (1982)

I can’t remember if I had bought Juju Music in advance of seeing Adé or picked it up after seeing him live. What I do remember is that I thought he and his band were utterly jaw dropping. Sensational. Revelatory. He and his extended group of musicians played a number of long, transportive pieces. Let me tell you, long, intricate, visceral, hypnotic numbers make a great date for the narcotically-enhanced mind, body, and soul. A truly memorable performance.

I went gaga over Juju Music for a period, although in the long run it turned out that fellow countryman, Fela Kuti, ended up as the Nigerian artist who I become truly besotted with.

“Ja Funmi,” from JuJu Music

Bland, commercial new wavers The Fixx followed, delivering a set that was forgettable even as it was happening. Having to follow Adé was brutal enough, but these MTV-approved boys had the doubly unfortunate “honour” of preceding the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

As mentioned earlier, Simple Minds dropped off the bill at some point, much to my extreme chagrin (I eventually got to see them many years later, with that show coming up down the line as concert no. 202). That chagrin was short-lived when it was revealed to me that Brown had been added in their stead.

When I think of the my interest in music during the 1977-1984 period, the definitive characteristic would be “new”: new sounds, groups, styles, approaches. I probably listened to more older stuff than many of my peers, but even trips to the past were massively overshadowed by the focus on the here-and-now.

I’ll eventually be discussing about how my interest in both past and present pretty much hit parity in the mid-‘80s, with these dual-direction perspectives informing my listening tastes from then till now. But the biggest precursor to this soon-to-come wholesale excavation of the past was my early ‘80s rediscovery of soul, funk, and r&b. While I was a fan of those genres in the early and mid 1970s, the arrival of punk temporarily took them off my menu of interests.

James Brown’s legendary performance from The T.A.M.I. Show (1964).

With the decade’s start, I began reinvesting in more groove-based music that was increasingly being incorporated into much of the newer alternative stuff I was listening to, touching off a re-fascination with the mothership genres and their history. Particularly in tandem with with my brother-in-law, we became passionate in sharing our re-exploration of these avenues, with my enthusiasm for it now deeper and more intense than it had been in my younger days.

In the process, James Brown had re-entered my musical vocabulary in then-recent years, and I was gobsmacked to be able to see him just as my appreciation for Soul Brother #1 and his innovations were now raging for me. I was massively primed for his set and, indeed, as with Iggy Pop and the Specials in 1981, and the Talking Heads in 1982, James Brown was the act at the Police Picnic I was most anticipating.

And what a colossal letdown he was.

James Brown Payback Label 45 Master

The label of my copy of James Brown’s 1973 hit, “The Payback.” Nice ‘fro on the label, James (I had one in the mid-’70s too … didn’t we all?)

At this point, Brown may just have been at his lowest-ever career ebb to date. Furthermore, we all now know what most of us didn’t then: this was the period wherein the formerly fascistically straight-edged Brown privately fell right off his moralistic anti-drugs pedestal, descending into hard substances, including PCP (ouch! … even I wouldn’t have touched that stuff at my most experimental). It seemed as if he spent half of the set off of the stage, appeared to be going half-heartedly through the performance motions, and was a shadow of his former high-energy self. The word “embarrassment” comes to mind.

I was gutted. One of the all-time concert-going disappointments.

Brown did bounce back to small degrees creatively, especially with the Unity EP he recorded with Afrika Bambaatta in 1984 — an early, important endorsement of hip hop from one of its essential progenitors and a key ingredient of my soundtrack to that summer — and a full hit the year after that with the jingoistic Rocky number, “Living In America.” Sadly, it appears his personal life just continued to devolve and there was little of note musically from the late ‘80s onwards.

Unity EP Brown Bambaataa BLOG

Above: My copy of the Unity EP, released the summer following his disappointing set at PPIII. An old-school/hip hop summit with Afrika “Planet Rock” Bambaatta, it was the best thing Brown had done in years. 

Chastened by his deeply disappointing appearance, it felt as if Brown’s set had killed the day’s momentum, but it turned out only to be a blip on the radar. Moving into mid-evening, now-second-on-the-bill Peter Tosh was up next. He ended up as almost a big a shock as Brown but for opposite reasons: he was sensational!

I had first learned about Tosh upon discovering Bob Marley and the Wailers in the mid-‘70s, eventually checking out his Legalize It and Bush Doctor albums, but nothing really after that. By this point, I hadn’t much listened to Tosh in the preceding years and so while I was expecting to enjoy his set, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. That was until he came out and put on a passionate, mesmerizing show that completely reminded me of everything I’d liked about him in the first place, and then some.

Peter Tosh performing “Bush Doctor” in Holland in 1983, the same year I saw him at the Police Picnic. Nice assault rifle guitar, Peter … and as for that spliff …

He got an enthusiastic response from the packed stadium, completely erasing the bad vibes from Brown’s set which had clearly frustrated many.

With Tosh’s exit, the stage was set for the night’s headliners, as I saw The Police for the third, final, and best time. If I thought they were boring and sucked in 1981, and much improved in 1982, then this 1983 performance jumps to mind as particularly wonderful. As I have previously written, The Police will never be on my list of “essential acts,” but having said that, their music catalogue is great and I love Reggatta de Blanc without question.

As for Synchronicity, it’s been a while since I’ve heard it in its entirety, but my take on it back then was that it was possibly their finest album. The Police really were nothing more than a polished, professional pop group who just happened to emerge concurrently with the artistically rich, challenging environment of late ‘70s UK post punk — “post punk” here referring to both the time frame and the genre — who’d often cluttered up their strengths in order to pay lipservice to strands of “hip” that they really didn’t embody. It always seemed to me that, with their final album, they simply went “screw the pretense of even trying to be edgy or innovative — let’s just make a very polished, strictly radio-friendly album, and do it well.” And they succeeded, minus Summers’ “Mother,” the LP’s failed and pointless attempt to go beyond the Fern Bar.

Synchronicity Cover BLOG

Synchronicity, The Police (1983)

They may just be one of the very few acts I can think of where the more accessible and commercial they got, the overall better they probably were (the Manic Street Preachers are probably another).

The trio may have been at each others’ throats off the stage, but in spite — or perhaps because  — of that, they played with considerable intensity. This performance was also spirited by coinciding with the group ascending to No. 1 around the globe via the Synchronicity album and its sweet-sour lead-off single, “Every Breath You Take.” Moments like that — when an artist has just taken a big career jump or hit an ultimate summit — can often be the best time to see an them live: that sometimes orgasmic vibe that’s a result of an alchemical interaction between a juiced band and audience, generated in tandem with a zeitgeist-y peak.

The audio of “Demolition Man” from this very gig at CNE Stadium. This was originally written for Grace Jones for her brilliant Nightclubbing album. The Police do a good job here … but Jones’ version is truly Amazing, Grace.

And that’s where everyone was on this night. To be there in the midst of this huge outdoor gathering, caressed by the velvet July warmth, under indigo skies with floating stars, to a spirited set of music, experienced through that luxurious narcotic/herbal sensuousness: mmmmm … sweetness.

Musically, the only specific thing that really jumps out was when they did “Every Breath You Take,” which had just taken one step down the chart stairs after a long residence at the top step, the 60,000 or so souls erupting in recognition. I’m pretty sure they did most of Synchronicity plus most of the usual sing-a-long suspects (“Roxanne,” “Message In A Bottle,” “Da Doo Doo Doo,” etc.) but remember more how it all felt rather than details. Even if not a major fan, I really had to give them props for this one, and afterwards Le Château and I talked about how they really had been dynamite that evening.

“Synchronicity 1,” in and around when I would have seen them, live in Atlanta. They were considerably more energized in 1983 than when I’d seen them in 1981. What the hell is Sting wearing??? What would Trudi say?

Aside from the vibe and “Every Breath You Take,” there’s another component from this final Police Picnic that’s significant for me: this was the first show I had attended that featured the concert being live-filmed and transmitted to the Jumbotron screens. I noted in my Bob Seger piece about how, back then, performers were gesticulating specs on a stage for the further-backs. The now-ubiquitous use of the screens at large gigs started in and around this time, helping somewhat to level the playing field sightline-wise. Le C et moi loved it and appreciated what it added to the experience.

At one point, the videographer followed them backstage as they took a mid-set break to have a cup of tea while the whole stadium watched on. Yeah, pretty hokey, but the ability to do that was new at the time so it was pretty cool.

After the usual battery of encores, Sting, Summers, and Copeland exited the CNE for the second and what turned out to be final time. Within a year, The Police were retired. As I wrote in my piece on The Beat and R.E.M., a new era was coming on as an old one was winding down. Blue Peter would soon be history and Peter Tosh would be murdered in 1987, while a number of acts I’d seen in recent years would soon dissolve or already had: The Jam, The Specials, The Beat, the Gang of Four, The Clash, and The Go-Gos among the best known.

MLIC>Bring on the Night: Police Picnics 81-82-83

MLIC>Bring on the Night: Police Picnics 81-82-83 is a Master Playlist featuring tracks from all the artists who played at each of the three festivals including the Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, The Specials, The Beat, Killing Joke, The Go-Go’s, and many more etc.

This day also marked the final of four consecutive summers that included me attending an outdoor summer festival, starting with Heatwave in 1980. It would be nine more years (to the day!) before I became a festival-going dude once again, with Lollapalooza in 1992 (coming up way down the line as no. 76).

As for the rest of the night, I have no recollection of the bus trip home. It must have been a quiet and uneventful journey, a thankful contrast to Music Mann nightmare of the previous summer.

I’m sure we probably both fell into a deep sleep as that Greyhound bound back home, courtesy of whatever the hell those were we’d taken.

“Walking On the Moon,” from 1979’s Reggatta de Blanc, both my favourite Police song as well as an apt description to how that day felt.

Next On Stage –> I will be jumping forward in time for a brief stop in the 1990s before going back to the start of this decade and bringing recent times up to speed while still leapfrogging back to the past.

Up next … In the depths of a depression, I witness Patti Smith’s return to live performance — and have a personal revelation during the second set.

084. People Have the Power: Patti Smith with Carolyn Striho and the Detroit Energy Asylum, The Phoenix, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Wednesday July 5, 1995.

… and also … No. 20 will be a two-parter and quite different from all other entries in this series.  Rather than writing about gigs I have seen, next time I’ll be writing about those I didn’t, looking back with 20/20 vision …

020a. You Won’t See Me: 20 Acts I Wish I’d Seen

020b. Waiting In Vain: 20 Performances I Missed, 1980-2011

© 2011 Various Artists

Comments From The Original opensalon.com Posting

Fascinating, VA. Other than the local concerts we sponsor here, I don’t think I’ve been to a live performance since Harry Chapin died, so it’s very interesting to get such in-depth looks. Gotta love the $20 ticket price….

records on wheels…. that was a blast from the past and thank god you did not sell that hipster doofus ashtray..

I was never into The Police but I di like a few of Stings solo projects.
Saw James Brown in the 60’s at Place du Soul in Montreal.

now I am lucky if I can get up and change the CD hahaha

When my clock radio went off this morning, I woke up to
“Roxanne.” So funny that I jumped on here to see this. Gotta run …be back later, as usual. Have a good Friday. 😉

Boanerges1: Glad you enjoyed. Going to live performances is in my blood, I guess. And, yes, seeing the prices of things back in the day is incredible, hence why I always try to highlight it. An all-day show like this today with a comparable headliner would be $80-100. However, I just ran th $20-in-1983 number through an inflation calculator and, if it’s accurate, this should would now cost $45.47 — so it’s not simply inflation: going to see live music now *is* more expensive.

Linda: You saw James Brown in the 60s? Right, that’s it: I will now simply have to worship you as a deity 😉 The shows you’ve seen ….

Scarlett: Synchronicity, indeed!


No black beauties but what about the yellow jackets? Then there were the whites. Not that I’d know anything about that counter culture. I mean everybody needs a little vitamin sometimes, …. James Brown, King of Soul, sounds like he could’ve used some. Tosh saves the day, maan. Irie!

Not a huge Police fan, they haven’t held up over time for me personally. Though I certainly recall enjoying & dancing to Walking On The Moon & Bed’s Too Big Without You. A dear colleague of my mine named Roxanne died in a single car crash in 2007, so I leave room in my heart for that song, … always, even if in namesake only.


Scarlett: Oh, I remember the yellowjackets and the white ones too … or was it all a dream? And I can see why “Roxanne” has a bittersweet connection for you.

As for the Police not holding up over time … speaking for myself, it’s interesting how my opinions on creative works — music, film, books, etc — can shape-shift over time. I did *like* them back in the day, but they were never a big fave. For each one of these festivals, it was someone else on the bills that prompted me to buy a ticket. Then, sometime in the mid-90s, I threw on “Reggatta de Blanc” one day and don’t think I made it all the way through — I thought it was so lame. Then I played it again about a year ago while writing here on OS about the earlier picnics and I couldn’t believe how good I thought it sounded — I think I like it more now than I did at the time it was released. I went out and picked up the CD, and so I’ve heard it on and off for the past year. Cublet loves it. Maybe I’m going to think it’s shite again in another 10 ….

Oh, VA, I liked them back in the day too for a while. For the time, the heavy bass was always good. The exception was the very paranoid, stalkerish song: “Every move you make, every cake you bake, every leave you rake” … I’ll be watching you song …which was the brunt of jokes even back then, if I recall correctly. Or was it just the pack I ran with?
Once again, it was all down to pills. I really can’t remember at what point I stopped taking speed.
once the music stopped being instructive.the fix was in.
howdy doody time.puppets are just wood.obama got good wood.

Scarlett: I can’t remember that being a joke per se. I do recall Sting being the butt of a lot of jokes, and rightly so.

James: The may just be the case about Obama, although I couldn’t say for sure …


Lots to this review and the concert itself Various. Your reaction to Brown was like mine to Chuck Berry in the early 70s. He was just going through the motions and promoting his newest hit, the execrable My Ding-a-ling. On the other hand, I did get to see the awesomely great Bo Diddley on the same bill.

I’d never seen the James Brown clip before and boy, it’s stunning. I’ve always liked that hokey bit about getting out the comforter and helping him up because no man could be left standing after putting so much out there. The Boss does a play on this in a wild Twist and Shout/La Bamba mashup in Buenos Aires, with his pals Sting & Peter Gabriel. If you’ll pardon the plug, the vid is in this post:

I’d read that to their chagrin, the Stones had to go on after him.

The Blue Peter song was new to me and it was pretty good. very typical of its era.

You’re a bit harder on the Police than I would have been. While they were never my favorite band (kinda tough when you’re contemporaries with The Clash), they were damn good and could really rip it on numbers like So Lonely, I Can’t Stand Losing You and Synchronicity 2.

Fun read Various. I wonder what the drug was.


Abra: You’re not the first I’ve heard to complain about Berry being disappointing, but that’s fantastic that you got to see Bo Diddley. My dad saw Diddley in the late ’50s, just after he’d emigrated here from the UK. Dad would have been in his early 30s at the time and rock & roll was not his thing. “What a bloody racket!,” was his review when I asked him about the show, lol!

Execrable is the perfect word for My Ding-a-ling. I remember that being all over radio in 1972.

If you’ve never seen the JB clip, then that means you’ve never seen The T.A.M.I. Show — I can’t recommend watching it enough. Billy J. Kramer’s a bit naff, but the rest of it is fun personified. So many great performances. It’s also beautifully filmed and finally available on DVD. The audience and go-go dancers (featuring Terri Garr and Toni Basil) are with it alone. And yes, from all accounts the Stones were shaking in their boots but frankly I think they’re brilliant in it.

Fun interpolation by Springsteen. I faintly remember watching this on MM at the time. I just can’t believe how young everyone looks in these things.

As for The Police, I willingly admit that when I saw them a second and third time, they really did deliver live. And all 3 songs you mentioned are good ones, especially So Lonely.

As for the drug, wouldn’t I like to know. Glad you enjoyed.


Various, the JB clip prompted me to do a tour through the TAMI show in YouTube. Wiki says the Stones were cowed by having to come on after Brown but you’d never know it. Their set was excellent. Billy Jay Kramer has always been one of my guilty pleasures and both Leslie Gore and the Beach Boys put on great performances.

Wiki says the show was first shown on TV in 1984, apparently only in your home and native land. I was on the road by then and had only vaguely heard about it in the past few years. Great line-up and great performances.


Abra: The T.A.M.I. Show is such a gem. I never get tired of seeing it.

I’m so glad you mentioned Lesley Gore as I’ve always thought she was a highlight. She’s a big personal favourite as is a lot of the Brill Building Pop musica, and the Girl Groups/Singers of the 60s. Don’t even get me started on Dusty Springfield …

It was indeed shown here and was one of the first things I taped with the VCR machine my Dad bought. It was being shown intermittently on the pay channel and he bought the VCR just as it was being aired for one of the last times. Pure serendipity. For years it was my most prized videotape and it eventually snapped from overplay. The whole video thing was new then, and I’d have all-night video parties with friends and that’s one that would end up getting played pretty much every time.

The Beach Boys were excised out all prints post-1964, and were not in the version I was used to seeing — so it was a big thrill to finally view their full performance in the DVD reissue.

The Police ruled back then and I was never more excited to see a band except them.They were fresh and oh so lively and talented. I wish they lasted longer and the song…Oh the songs that they sang. I like the nostalgia here and that one concert with the whos who of the time must have been fabulous to say the least.
Algis: It’s interesting to see the range of responses The Police engendered from people. Glad you had a great time seeing them and that you’re enjoying the nostalgia!

Weird – all the mega-talent on this bill, and all I could “Fixxate” on was…The Fixx! You might be right that they’re ‘bland new wavers’ but for some weird reason, “One Thing Leads to Another” is highly ingrained in my consciousness. I also need to get over my issues with Sting’s bland solo adult contemporary career and revisit The Police.

Thanks again for the rock and roll, VA!


Chiller: My spouse-unit, Cublet, is Mr. early ’80s — that’s really his era — so I hear that song around the house sometimes and I probably enjoy it more now than I did then. But they had their work cut out for them on that day. Still, I wish the Simple Minds had still been on the bill. That would have been THE time to see them, too.

And please don’t get over your issues with Sting’s bland solo adult contemporary career — he doesn’t deserve it! While I haven’t heard it in some time, I actually quite liked his first solo album but haven’t liked a note of music he’s created post-1985. I remember seeing this one video where he had a mohawk and was riding a silver, glowing horse … seriously, I lost the will to live just watching it.


  1. hi there, amazing read about the peter tosh live, to your knowledge is there any existing audio recording about this event ?

    thanks for your reply

    1. A recording of his set may exist, but I do not know if it does for sure. I did try peeking around on YouTube, as I try to find clips or recordings from the gigs I am talking about but didn’t turn up anything for this gig. I’ll bet it would sound great — he and the band were really on fire that night.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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