Elvis Costello and The Police
Following Tony Bennett with the Police this week only serves to underline Spectacle’s range. Obviously, we hope this strikes you viewers as engagingly eclectic (or eclectically engaging) and not crazy, because these shows are all different. But then that’s been a big part of the fun of making this series.
To be honest, it was challenging to switch gears for the various guests and genres of music we covered in the 13 episodes we made. They called for a variety of approaches to everything from research to staging, camera positions, lighting, sound and, eventually, editing and mixing. But I like to think we all thrived on the challenge, and of course no one had to switch more gears (and do it faster and under more pressure) than our host – and, again, I believe he thrived on it. After all, Elvis has fashioned an extraordinary career largely on being so open and enthusiastic about all kinds of music and artists.
In the case of the Police, the fact that Elvis was touring with them for some of their big reunion tour this past year was clearly helpful. He and the three Police men were able to chat about Spectacle while they were on the road, and that clearly went a long way to making Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers comfortable with the idea of doing something they hadn’t actually done for many, many years – sit down together for a television interview and performance.
Scheduling is always tough, but this one was really tricky to arrange because there were so few possible days for our shoot as the reunion tour wound down. And once the final Police show at Madison Square Garden happened, the three members of the band would go their separate ways and that, as they say, would be that.
It ended up being the day before that MSG show in August – a hot, sunny day in New York – and I once again have to say thank you to Sting, Stewart and Andy for being so generous with their time on a rare day off at the end of what had clearly been a long and exhausting (not to mention hugely successful) tour. And with that final benefit concert scheduled for the next day, and several previous shows that week, Sting clearly had to be concerned about his voice – always a concern for singers on the road, obviously, but even more so in this case when one of the biggest bands in the world is wrapping up its reunion tour with a charity fundraiser at Madison Square Garden. Spending a big chunk of that last day of rest shooting a TV show is probably not what most bands would have done – but for Elvis the Police did it not only willingly, but enthusiastically. (Unless they’re also all really great actors, they seemed to have a hell of a lot of fun.)
Elvis’s time on tour with the Police also made it possible for them to work out some special and unique musical treats for our show. Evidently, in those final weeks on the road, Elvis and the Imposters and the Police got into the habit of spending some of their soundchecks playing together and working out what came to be known as “the mash-up” – a shotgun marriage of a Costello classic and one of the Police’s coolest tracks, played by both bands. Together. It’s a one-time-only moment, for sure. And then there’s the Sting-Elvis duet on one of EC’s early signature songs (which they’d also been trying out on tour), plus Sting’s intimate, surprising rendition of one of the Police’s biggest hits that sheds fascinating light on its origins….and there’s a lot more.
Seriously, on this show we squeezed in a crazy amount of stuff – one-on-one interviews, a group session, acoustic performance, pop, rock, jazz, even some Elizabethan blues, two bands onstage at the same time rockin’ out (the logistics of staging that was really fun for all, especially our great crew – and the Police’s) and Elvis’s very special musical introduction to the show, which blends Burt Bacharach with a bit of the Police’s biggest hit – all that, and some good laughs. They’re all spectacles, folks, but you really get your money’s worth with this one.
Hope you like it, and thanks for watching Spectacle.
Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…