On Stage with the Police

Back in December 1983, Passionate Friends had the absolute honour of acting as the support band to the Police – in St Austell, Coliseum and the NEC in Birmingham

We first knew we had the gigs when our  manager Harvey Goldsmith, who was promoting the Synchronicity tour, saw an opportunity to replace China Crisis.

We had been filming the “Time to Think” educational film for STV, when Harvey’s assistant Chris Cooke turned up at Nite Moves in Glasgow with the news. That night Dec 11th 1983, the Police were playing at the Apollo in Glasgow. We were on the guest list and we were seated in a box above the stage, alongside Simple Minds. I remember on that night we were able to smuggle in a young lady, who had interviewed the band earlier in the day for a fanzine.

Roll on a few days, and the band were on the road to perform at the first gig on Dec 17th at the Coliseum in St Austell, Cornwall.

We had been due to be provided new outfits by our dresser, Jo Lewis, but an unfortunate event had happened earlier in the day in London. 6 people were killed, and 90 injured, when an IRA bomb blew up outside Harrods store. This meant that Jo had been held up by all the traffic disruption. Jo eventually made it down to St Austell with minutes to spare, and we were promptly attired in the best of Katherine Hamnett designer outfits. We were housed in a portacabin, beside the 3 backing singers. The roadies had marked their mike stands “Black – And – Decker”.
Then before you knew it we were out on stage to a packed St Austell Coliseum hall. Like any support band will tell you, it can be very difficult grabbing the audience attention when all they want is the main act – but we held our own and got through the set to a great reaction from the crowd. My main memory of the gig was cuddly toys and jelly babies been thrown onto the stage – not for us, but the Police.
We watched the Police from the main hall, drinking Guinness (supplied by the gig sponsor) and from the side of the stage, where Stuart Copeland’s work rate was immense – with a wide array of drums and a drum machine. We shook hands with them as they ran off the stage, and quickly whisked back home to London (presumably).
We stayed near St Austell, enjoying next day’s severe winter weather before getting ready for the next night’s gig to a new audience.
Then we headed back to London. We were on the guest list for the Billy Connolly gig in London (we shared the same manager). We went backstage with Billy and he did an impromptu performance for us while we quaffed his rider!
Next day we headed north the the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. A massive venue, we had to get in early enough to avoid the vast crowd of Police fans.
Sting and The roadies were carrying out the sound check “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. Sting came over to us an wished us good luck for the night. I can’t remember when Andy Summers showed up but Stuart Copeland turned up in a large American car, driving it right into the loading area at the back of the stage.
My recollection is that we went out to a crowd of 20,000 Police fans, but somebody will be able to confirm the correct attendance. We played the same set as we had in St Austell. It all went by in a flash and before you knew it we were back out there enjoying the show with the rest of the fans.
Our time on stage with the Police had come to an end.

p.s. I found this bootleg audio of the St Austell gig on YouTube – classy!

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