Cherry Vanilla and the Police Newcastle Poly and Middlesbrough Rock Garden 1977

Fallout I’d seen Sting several times in Last Exit and the Newcastle Big Band, and knew that he had gone down to London with Last Exit. The next thing I heard was that he had formed a punk band called the Police and was supporting an American punk singer called Cherry Vanilla who was touring the UK. The first chance to see this pairing was at a gig at Middlesbrough Rock Garden in early 1977. Cherry had been David Bowie’s USA publicist, and relocated to London in 1976. The set up for the tour was the Police as support act, with Sting and Stewart Copeland also playing in Cherry’s band. The Police line-up at the time was Sting on bass and vocals, Stewart Copeland on drums, and Henry Padovani on guitar. I remember thinking it a strange set-up. Here was the drummer from the prog-rock band Curved Air, a jazz bass player and an unknown guitarist supporting an American new wave singer. It didn’t seem that authentic at the time compared to other punk and new wave acts. I’d always been impressed by Sting in Last Exit, liked Curved Air, and was interested in the punk scene, and hence wanted to see Cherry Vanilla, so Marie and I went to the gig at the Rock Garden, which was on 12 March 1977. As it happened Cherry Vanilla didn’t turn up for some reason, and the Police headlined that night. Their set was pretty straight ahead punk as far as I can recall. The only recored output from that period was the single Fall Out. Their set at the time include Grand Hotel, which was a Last Exit song and Clouds in Venice, which was written by Stewart Copeland and his then wife Sonja Kristina (from Curved-Air). I recall the music as fast-paced typical 1977 speed punk. The Cherry Vanilla / Police pairing appeared at Newcastle Polytechnic on 6 May 1977. and Marie and I went along again. This time Cherry Vanilla did perform with Sting and Stewart in her band, the Police played their own short set, and the evening was opened by local band Penetration who were starting to gig around the region at the time. I was a big fan of Penetration and although their songs were just forming at the time, they were the highlight of that night for me.

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