The Police Milton Keynes Bowl 26th July 1980

The Police Milton Keynes Bowl 26th July 1980
Rockatta De Bowl
Support Acts: UB40; Squeeze; Tom Robinson’s Sector 27; Skafish
DJs: John Peel (who else) and Jerry Floyd
policemkprogNot one of the best one day festival events that I’ve attended, but by no means the worst. It’s a long drive from the North East to Milton Keynes, and it seemed an even long drive back after standing all day getting soaked….
I went with a car load of mates; we had all recently discovered the Police and were quite big fans at the time, having seen them several times in Newcastle. This was the first big concert at the Milton Keynes Bowl, and it was organised by the same people that ran the Reading Festival. The Bowl is, as the name suggests, a natural round amphitheatre; “the site was a former clay-pit…filled in and raised to form an amphitheatre using sub-soil excavated by the many new developments in the area and it has a maximum capacity of 65,000. The arena is open-air grassland, without seats.” (Wikipedia). It was by no means full for the Police concert; reports suggest that around 25,000 people attended. There had been a lot of rain in the days leading up to the event and as a result, the bowl was a bit of a quagmire…. policemktimingsThe line-up was interesting. I don’t recall whether or not we arrived in time to catch Tom Robinson and his new band Sector 27. I do remember SkaFace who were greeted by a hail of cans, and retreated after a few songs, the singer’s face was quite badly cut. Squeeze were good, as always; they can’t be anything other than good with those catchy pop songs like “Up The Junction”, and great hooks. UB40 were a big hit, with their reggae rhythms drifting around the bowl. There was then a long wait before The Police hit the stage, during which it poured down. The weather and the wait put a damper on things, and I remember that the Police were good, but I couldn’t really get into it for two reasons; first I was soaked (no tents or anywhere else to hide from the rain) and secondly I knew that I had a long four hour drive home. Sting had a pretty classy looking new upright bass (was it hanging from the roof on a wire? Or did I just imagine that?) and he led us all through lots of Yo Yo which started to annoy me after too long….
Some reviews from the time:
“The show by The Police in the hitherto rock and roll backwater of Milton Keynes, proved that there are still few greater thrills available anywhere than to witness a group playing at the absolute peak of its prowess and confidence… One is always astonished at any show The Police perform, by the remarkable power they manage to create with the basic line-up of bass, guitar and drums…” (Evening Standard)
policemktix“…they showed a move towards a more varied and mainstream approach, while retaining more than a hint of the white reggae style.” (The Guardian)
“They achieved a better overall sound with three musicians than anyone else did with eight… The white reggae beat was certainly conducive to the festival atmosphere, and the tribal chants brought out the football supporter in all of us.” (Sounds)
Police setlist: Voices Inside My Head; Don’t Stand So Close to Me; Walking on the Moon; Deathwish; Fall Out; Bring on the Night; De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da; Truth Hits Everybody; The Bed’s Too Big Without You; Driven to Tears; When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around; Message in a Bottle; Roxanne; Can’t Stand Losing You; Reggatta de Blanc; Next to You; So Lonely

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ian on May 15, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Just as I remember it. Only traveled a short distance from Buckingham but what a wet and muddy day. Great line up though.


  2. Posted by Paul Shaw on June 28, 2020 at 11:49 pm

    Remember it well, very wet, very muddy and Squeeze were bloody brilliant!
    Don’t really recall The Police or UB40, but travelled up from Chatham with 4 Army mates and arrived late so may have missed UB40???
    But I do recall Squeeze being really on form, so I guess that says it all.
    Open Air concerts back then were great and didn’t cost a King’s Ransom. I remember Crystal Palace that same year; Bob Marley, Joe Jackson and I think it cost me a fiver!


  3. Posted by Andrew Forster on June 29, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    Hitched down from Boro for this, remember the rain and having to stand on a mound of empty cans to try and see the Police, you’re right about Sting trying to outdo Bob Marley with all the yo yo yos 🙂 Saw Sector 27 later on at the Rock Garden, mainly cos the Au Pairs were the support band.


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 30, 2020 at 11:56 am

      Hi Andrew

      The Police were at the top of their game at the time. Come to think of it I think I may have seen Sector 27 at the Rock Garden also. Happy days Peter


  4. Posted by John Eddon on January 20, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    Trying to recall if the double bass was lowered from the roof at the beginning of the concert. Also, I recall the lead singer of Skafish being hit with a can of beer and began to bleed (I think the crowd were getting impatient waiting for the Police) we travelled down from the Boro too.


    • Posted by vintagerock on January 20, 2022 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks John. I have vivid memories of the bass coming down from the roof of the stage. But then my memory is not good and I have been proved wrong before….There was too much can fighting in those days. Spoilt some great events but overall these were happy days. Peter


  5. Posted by Boris Kalanj on November 17, 2022 at 7:00 am

    I was 14 at the time, spending a month in London in a summer school of English. This concert is etched in memory as one of the absolutely greatest experiences I’ve had. Had a big crush on a girl. Felt so special while holding her hand. I walked through the mud and the rain on cloud nine that day. Like it was yesterday.


    • Posted by vintagerock on November 17, 2022 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks for sharing Boris. Sounds like a wonderful experience. All these experiences are so important to us all. Happy days Peter


  6. Posted by Perry on March 10, 2023 at 8:29 pm

    I’m watching top of the pops with my partner. And recalled that very day. I’m glade that I was right and not going mad. Read what you said and it was as I had remembered. Myself and a mate met Chrissy Hyned and she gave us a bit of paper with a phone number on it. Unfortunately my mate lost it(don’t know what would of happened if we had called). Anyway great memories


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 11, 2023 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Perry thanks for sharing. It was a great day! It would have been fun if you had phoned Chrissie Happy days Peter


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