Waters expertly revisits Pink Floyd at Starplex
By Matt Weitz / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
"Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends," was the luridly festive take on arena rock by classic mainstays Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Roger Waters, bassist for contemporaries Pink Floyd, took a considerably more sinister view, introducing listeners to an all-consuming machine that was Big Time Rock in its smallest sense and life in its largest.
Once so disgusted with rock stardom and its trappings that he took to gobbing on Pink Floyd's audience, Mr. Waters seemed considerably more comfortable with both his role onstage and the legacy of his former band at Starplex on Sunday night, playing a long, two-set show that was about as close to perfect as stadium rock gets.
The first set was 70-some minutes and almost pure Floyd, starting with The Wall's intro "In the Flesh?" wherein the narrator welcomes the faithful who seek "that space cadet glow." With the exception of "Southampton Dock," from his solo album The Final Cut, the primary color was Pink after that.
Mr. Waters and his large band played what amounted to whole album sides by playing sets of songs from beloved favorites such as Animals ("Pigs on the Wing, Part 1," "Dogs"), Wish You Were Here (the title cut, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," dedicated to Floyd founder Syd Barrett, and a throbbing "Welcome to the Machine") and The Wall ("Another Brick in the Wall, Part II," "Mother").
The second set had more solo material in it - "Every Stranger's Eyes," "Amused to Death" and the anti-military-industrial-complex anthem "Perfect Sense" - plus a good helping of Dark Side of the Moon, including the title track.
It probably didn't hurt that visits from former Pink Floyd members have been fairly infrequent (Mr. Waters himself hasn't bothered to tour in almost 14 years), but the half-capacity crowd was one of the most enthusiastic and demonstrative in recent memory, clearly audible on sing-alongs, even over the band.
The band was big: three guitars (longtime mates Andy Fairweather-Low and Snowy White and Texan Doyle Bramhall II), Mr. Waters on bass (mostly), a drummer, three backup singers, a keyboardist, and a utility man who played keyboards, guitar and lap steel.
Mr. Bramhall was most impressive. Though he was a bit restrained by having to play David Gilmour's familiar leads, his performance reminded one of Stevie Ray Vaughan's stint with David Bowie's band. As a plus, he got to sing Mr. Gilmour's parts on "Money," "Breathe," "Time" and the set-ending "Comfortably Numb."
The group did justice to the music, alternating between soaring anthems and trippy excursions and instrumental riffing. The second set - almost 80 minutes - was gone in the blink of an eye with Mr. Waters' "Each Small Candle," which told the tale of the Good Samaritan featuring a Bosnian and a Serb.
Few shows are this enjoyable, particularly to someone who sees a lot of shows. Sunday night, Mr. Waters set the bar for summer's outdoor concerts admirably high.