I've been dying to post this all day but just too busy at work. Last night I had the very, very, very great pleasure of spending an evening with Mr. Roger Waters at the Van Andel arena in Grand Rapids, MI.
j, and PJA, I made it with 1 hour to spare. No time to hit TGIFridays and meet anyone but we did have time to duck into this bar right next to the venue. The upstairs was packed so we slid downstairs, where the jukebox was playing DSoTM and enjoyed a beer before the show.
We got in the venue at approx. 7:30 and headed right for the mechandise stand. I was with my girlfriend (whom attended the Pine Knob show with me) and my friend RJS (whom attended Pine Knob, and Columbus with me) and also my brother, who was seeing the show for the first time. I didn't want to spoil anything for him so we didn't gab about the show on the drive out. At one point, though, he asked us; "Does he play What God Wants?". Smiles.
At previous shows we were so excited to get to our seats, and didn't want to carry stuff around, so we figured we'd grab the merchandise on the way out. Big lines, so that never worked. Since we knew this was going to be the last show (for us, this year), we decided to shop first. There were ZERO lithos for sale but plenty of everything else. RJS bought a program and a mug. I decided (once again) not to buy.
Our floor seats didn't end up being bad at all (they could have been much better but for a boondoggle with TM online). We were about in the middle of the floor. The sound was excellent - best of any of the shows! This was a smaller venue than Columbus (the smallest of the three I was able to attend) and the sound, from where we were (in front of but not far from the mixers), was simply perfect (my brother stated it was the best sound at any rock concert he had attended, I'm inclined to agree).
The crowd was, once again, a big mix. What was different was the unusually sharp contrast of fans. Everyone seemed to be either a huge-over-the-top ROG fan, or a Floyd fan who was there becase they thought they might hear some Floyd music. TDB shirts were in abundance in respect to the latter group. THE absolute coolest shirt I have ever seen was a few rows in front of us - this guy must have made it himself. It had a bunch of graphics from the program, and 5 ticket stubs from the tour, and text in "The Wall" font announcing the tour and locations (next to each stub). Damn cool shirt.
The floor stood for the whole show. The tiers (which looked to be almost full by the time the first song got going) sat for 85-90% of the show.
Here's some other observations, pardon me if I jump around a bit:
Coolest moment was that I noticed during the lyric "The kid in the corner looked at the preist, and fingered his pale-blue Japanese guitar", Doyle put his hands on his light-aqua-marine guitar (close to pale-blue I guess) and turned and *looked* and Andy Fairweather-Low. Damn cool! I think Doyle has become a huge fan of Roger's music during this tour. All the band, including Roger himself, were at their best last night. The liquid light has improved with each show and was *great* last night. Aw man, just beautiful.
During the intermission I asked my brother how he liked the tribute to Syd - which I thought was great. He didn't think it was good at all. I was shocked! What do you mean? Don't you know that song was about Syd? To which he replied; "Well Paul, this has been a fantastic show so far and I really think Roger Waters is great, but if he had come on stage with a psychedelic shirt, and played one of Syd's songs, now that would have been a tribute that would have impressed me!". What could I say? I would have loved it!
Also, this one guy in front of us was obviously big into the show so I asked him: "Have you seen this show before?" He said; "Yeah I saw Roger in '87".
PLS: No, no. I mean In The Flesh '99?
Big Fan: Nope.
PLS: Oh... you are going to *love* the 2nd half!!!
Well duing the beginning of WGW, when Beck should have been ripping up the guitar with that great start - well the stage guys couldn't/wouldn't do it like Jeff, leaving a "vacuum" in that spot of the song, and "Big Fan" turned around and looked right at me. And I just kind of shrugged and spread my arms like; 'Hey, I know.'
Another moment: during the intermission as I walked to the restrooms I noticed I was walking right next to this guy with a TDB shirt:
PLS: Hey, isn't that a Division Bell shirt?
PLS: Well don't you think that's kind of an insult to the artist on stage tonight?
Idiot: (shrugs) Hey, it's a Pink Floyd shirt.
I guess he felt he was a fan of the music, not the artists. I didn't waste any time trying to enlighten him.
Let's see - during ABitW pt 2, for the second and "added" third verses Roger held his hands up counting down the beats (4 fingers, 3, 2, 1) and gestured for the crowd to sing the chorus. There was a *lot* of singing last night and yes, I can hear the difference between the quad "crowd effects" and the people all around me singing their lungs out.
One other thing, I asked my brother what he thought Roger would do if he got suddenly as popular as Pink Floyd and did another tour - would he still play the "smaller" arena venues? Tom said; "I think Roger is about just as popular as he wants to be. He's distilled the fans down to the real, true fans of his art. Look at the overwhelming enthusiam here tonight! I don't think Roger would be happy if he were more popular". Quite an insight I think, really, since Tom hasn't heard the Jim Ladd interview.
Finally, on the way back to the car I was able to pick up a $15 bootleg tie-die shirt. It didn't have the Grand Rapids stop on the venue list, but it had the other two shows I saw and it's a cool shirt.
Another great night. An awesome finale for me for this leg. Thanks Roger!!!!
Our words to each other as we walked out of the arena: If he does a second, west coast leg, then some how, some way, we are going to see at least one of those shows!