"Bah da dah!! DUM dum dum dum, DAH dah da da..."
Guitar and drums blare as Roger begins with "In The Flesh," from The Wall album. He's standing up on a sort of platform at back of stage, lookin down upon us all and doing a bit of a Pink impersonation as he singles out the various people to be "put against the wall." But he does a good job of making it obvious that the song, along with the entire Wall, was to be a bit of a humourous and sarcastic affair.
The first set lasts for about an hour and a half. On the stage, there is a drop screen in back, on which they flash various still pictures and collages during the entire performance, along with some weird bubbling dripping psychedelic lava lamp sort of effect. Trippy! Though the screen doesn't have much effect before dark, as the Carolina setting sun glares right onto the stage. More songs from The Wall, "The Happiest Days of Our Lives," followed directly with the all-time classic "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2." Then a transition into the soft Ballad "Mother." This one was done pretty well. The crowd, of course, cheered when Roger was asking the various questions in the song. "Mother should I trust the government?" "Nooooo!!!!" many of us replied.
Then onto the Animals section of the show. The soft and sweet "Pigs on the Wing, Part 1," led into a 17 minute masterpiece known as "Dogs" Amazing song. Very well performed. And during the parts where there are no vocals, Roger and some of the band sat down to a poker table and proceeded to play cards. This happened a few other times during the show when there was a break for certain members from playing.
A couple of songs from the Floyd's last project, which most of us know to be really the first solo Roger Waters album, The Final Cut. First, the short and biting "Get Your Filthy Hands off my Desert," which led into the sorrowful semi- war song, "Southhampton Dock."
After this, a wonderful tribute to Syd Barrett. Barrett being the original founder of Pink Floyd, doing lyrics and vocals and various bits. They had a great beginning, but sadly, Barrett had a bit of a problem with psychedelic drugs and slipped into schitzophrenia. Though they tried to continue, the band eventually had no choice but to leave him behind in the middle of the second album.
Wish You Were Here which directly followed Dark Side of the Moon, was the bands thank you, farewell, and musical tribute to the man, the close friend, who kicked off what they had become. And Roger did a lovely job Wednesday night in saluting Syd. Rog and his new band performed first off of the album, "Welcome to the Machine," a slightly heavy and synthesized song welcoming new rock stars to the machine that is the music industry. Then the song that the album is named for, "Wish You Were Here," was done. Quite marvelously, I might add. It is a very good piece. Roger ad libbed the last lines, changing them slightly from the original verion, to say "and I wish that you were here" Quite directly to Syd. During this whole Wish You Were Here segment of the show, still pictures of Syd were being cast onto the backdrop, pictures when he was young and happier, some of him with the band, some alone. Lovely. Then the 20 minute "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," a very strong and beautiful instrumental piece with few select lyrics, was done to close off the first set of the show. Rog also changed some lyrics around in this song, as he has done occasionally in times past, to "pile on many more years, and I'll be joining you there." This seems to make it more personal. The whole moment seemed to show a bit of what Roger thought of Syd, how close they were and that he still thinks about his old friend. One cannot help but to get nearly teary eyed after these songs.
Some of the visuals included high intensity spotlights that suddenly lit up guitar solos or band members during the act. Also, there was a crystal sort of round star in back that spun around and had blue and other coloured lights shone onto it, so that the lights beamed out across the audience similar to the effect of lasers dancing. TV screens on either side of the stage faded in and out on clips from various movies, and on closups of guitar playing and Roger's face, along with shots of the band members and the background singers; all of this forming a sort of real time movie. And there was rather a lot smoke, partially from the dry ice machines and partially from all of the fans partaking of the spicy sweet smelling ganga. This added a misty groovy air for the various lights to play upon. Also, here and there, near the front and center, some of the fans were blowing massive amounts of bubbles into the crowd and on stage, causing a very pretty shimmering effect. And on the opposite side of the crowd, during most of the show, was a big beach ball being tossed and bounced around among the fans. At one point I think it was taken away by security (supposedly because it thumped into one of the background singer's legs,) but I did see it again even towards the end of the show. And someone had the idea to blow up a latex glow and bounce it around also. Cute.
And though this show was not a grand scale peformance with lots of visual distractions, (which I personally prefer, as I'm not there to be overwhelmed visually, just musically,) Roger did not let us down in the least in any fashion. Thanks to the strategic placement of speakers, and perhaps some Qsound and other musical devices of which I know little about, we were completely surrounded with sound. Effects resounding and rebounding from one area to another, as if they were coming from right over our shoulders or right above our heads.
Then intermission is over. The long aged tribal psychedelic "Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun," from the second Floyd album, A Saucerful of Secrets, opens the second set, and you dance in the aisles on the way back to your seats. Everybody dances, actually. One couldn't help it. This song digs down into your soul and brings out some sort of posession. There is a wonderful 30 second or so brass solo (saxophone or some sort of horn, not sure,) thanks to a guest player, in the middle of this song. Mixed with a bit of drumming.
Onto Dark Side of the Moon, no doubt the Floyd's most recognized work. Rog does the timeless ones, "Breathe," "Time," and the "Breathe (Reprise)," along with "Money." "Money," is welcomed most lovingly, and everyone on the lawn and people in their seats stand up and dance and sing to it. There are some still shots of Rog when he was younger a couple where he's playing in a field of dandelions and falling back onto the ground laughing. Quite lovely.
Finally onto some solo songs. Rog begins with the only song from The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking to make it onto the setlist. "5:06AM (Every Strangers Eyes,)" is a beautiful piece on seeing oneself in others, and perhaps worth and love. A piece that we all wonder if Roger lipsynched. I think he sang into the mic over a recording of him singing it on tape.
And then five gems from Roger's latest and in my opinion, best, solo album, Amused to Death. "Perfect Sense, Part 1" begins with a sound clip from the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey," in which HAL, the computer machine, is saying "I can feel my mind going, my mind is going, there is no question about it, Dave, I can feel my mind going. I'm afraid, Dave, I''m afraid, I..'m...a..fr..a..id..." Kubrick may have kept the clip off the album but he can't keep it out of the shows. "Perfect Sense, Part 1," goes directly into "Perfect Sense, Part 2."
You can tell that he loves these songs from how he really seems to enjoy performing them. He almost starts dancing on stage, waving his arms and doing various gesticulations and movements to go along with the lyrics and music. He touches people's hands in the audience. Yes, he is being fed by this audience, though it is doubtfully the best audience he's seen lately. He does smile alot. It's good to see this man, who's been referred to as "rock and roll's gloomiest man," smile and appear to finally be happy.
Roger uses female backup singers on these songs, PP Arnold, Katie Kissoon, and Susannah Melvoin, as well as most of the songs. They add a very soulful touch. PP Arnold did particularly well. "The Bravery of Being Out of Range," a bitter piece on the futility and hopelessness of war, is superbly done, though the crowd does not welcome it as warmly as I had hoped they would. Added sarcasm is placed on "It's a Miracle," and the line about Andrew Lloyd Webber is even more amusing when you hear it live. "Amused to Death" was simply magnificant. Nothing I could say would do the performance of it any justice. I never had a true appreciation of this song until I saw it live. Blew me away. And during this part of the show, shots of a war memorial are being shown on the backdrop, various names scrolling by and new pieces of the wall fading in and out. An old man's voice is being played as the girls quietly repeat the chorus of "Amused to Death." He speaks of the war and of Bill Hubbard, and of his experiences with the war. And as the song closes off, the audience is left with the gravestone of William Hubbard staring back at us from the backdrop screen.
And then some more of the Dark Side of the Moon, to grasp the audiences attention again. "Brain Damage" kicks in. More gestures by Roger... "The lunatics, are on the grass," he opens his arms out to the crowd and points at us and laughs... apparently we are the lunatics on the grass. Another big smile from him. "The lunatic, is in my head," he gestures towards his head...
Closing the show off with "Eclipse," the listed piece that always seems to accompany "Brain Damage," he leaves the stage with "And everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the mooo---oon," as the picture on the bakcdrop subtly fades into a completely eclipsed sun. The crowd goes wild, stomping on the concrete, banging things, making noises, yelling, clapping, and some take out lighters and scream for him to come back. He does.
And "Comfortably Numb" beings. THE song that every Waters and Pink Floyd fan cannot live without. It takes two to match the power that Gilmour had on this song back in the good old days. But I must say that Doyle Bramhall and Snowy White were beautiful together, standing up on the platform in back and leaning close into each other as they jammed away. They did a good job of grunging up the solo, and the song came off very successfully.
Then the band leaves again. But I think most all of us knew better. Rog has this new album coming out, and he played one of the new songs during the last leg of the tour. And some of us have heard that he's going to play that song as encore. So after about 5 minutes of the crowd begging him to come back out, he does. The band takes their bows and Roger thanks the audience for coming and listening. He begins to discuss Kosovo, and the reason behind the song, how this soldier who was in the war sent him one stanza of lyrics and Rog went and made a whole song of of it. But the crowd wouldn't quiet down and Roger gave a bit of a dissapointed shake of the head and an impatient shoulder shrug, and after saying a quick "thanks again," went on into the song, "Each Small Candle." On the backdrop, lyrics are written for the crowd to see. "Each small candle... lights a corner of the dark... Gorgeous moment. We all swayed as he sang and we all lit a small corner of the dark with our lighters. And when the song was finished, Rog held up his own lighter to complete the night.
And, as the lyrics of "Amused to Death," say:
"It was the greatest show on earth, and then, it was over."
And Roger left the stage.