Iíd last seen Roger doing KAOS in Oakland in 1988. Before that Proís & Cons in Philadelphia, í84. As a fan for over twenty-five years and having followed last years and this years tour on-line I had certain expectations and assumptions. All I can say is, last nightís show blew me and my entourage of eight AWAY! An absolutely tremendous and powerful tour-de-force. This band is a killer! Roger was the best Iíve ever seen him, he has evolved to another place. People! Rog is on fire. I do believe we are seeing a real move into something new and extremely interesting. Ok, Iíll give a rundown, before I get to carried away with hyperbole.
In The Flesh opener: audio quality was excellent right from the opening salvo. Quad was in effect, tweaked to perfection. Rogersís vocals: excellent! Strong and clear all night. Better than Iíve ever heard him. Right into Happiest Days / Another Brick in the Wall pt II: rockin! This show is fast paced and this got us moving real quick. Suddenly itís Mother. Rog on acoustic guitar. A beautiful band arrangement. Great vocals. Then the Final Cut selections: Filthy Hands & Southampton Dock: these two truly exceeded my expectations! Superb arrangements, great vocals from the ladies and the whole band. Folk and gospel. What a treat. Southampton Dock really takes on new life with this group.
Next up: Pigs on the Wing: gorgeous. By now, our friends in the audience are turning to each other and saying "wow, this is killer!!!" Then Jon Carin starts the de-tuned acoustic intro to DOGS. What a heavy, dark, disturbing, beautiful tune! Carin, Doyle and then Roger handled the lead vocals. Excellently, in my opinion. During the long spacey jam with the card game, my pals were just losing their minds. The music was just too damn good. Following dogs was a tremendous Welcome to the Machine, an absolutely supreme Wish You Were Here which had us all singing and hugging! I have to mention that the people sitting around us were all super-friendly, hysterically funny and generous. Love you all!
Last song, first set: Shine On. Truly awe-inspiring. The intro alone worth the price of admission. Stately, mournful, haunting, sad. Jon Carinís keyboards were magnificent. The Floyd-style panned-in-quad keyboards were perfect. Audio fidelity top notch. (Sorry about all my superlatives. It was that good!!!) As noted by others, the arrangement was a truncated version of the whole piece, but this version was new and powerful.
Intermission: and now my comments on the band members, audience left to right: Doyle Bramhall was excellent. Much, much better than I had expected. Played it straight, not cocky at all. He sang well to, in his own voice, nice and clear, with enough talent to make it fly. His guitar playing was just fine! Snowy White: what a player! He was ON all night. What a great, simple tone that pops out of his gold-top Les Paul. He and Doyle were a GREAT team. Straight up! Grahm Broad, the drummer: give this man a standing ovation! He has been truly overlooked and under-appreciated! Tremendous drummer, with a HUGE sound. His playing on Time was magnificent. Plus, he rocks it heavy. He makes Rogers music sound incredibly heavy and powerful. Three cheers for Grahm! Andy Fairwheater Low: this guy rules! Rogers shadow. Covers all bases. Played one solo (I think) all night that tore the place down: Money! No pick. Just fingers. Pure sonic emotion. AFL, you are amazing! Roger: looked great. Sang better than ever. Loose & smiling. Bass playing tighter & more powerful than ever. Really. He danced. Observation: he appeared to signal the band by raising his right foot in the air behind him. That is a James Brown maneuver. Fascinating. Rog had a lot of intensity and kinetic energy. You look at him and think you know him, then you realize that you probably donít. He has taken this band to a new, higher place and that is a real testament to his determination and artistry. Jon Carin: what a keyboard player. Andy Wallace: fine keyboard player too. The lady singers tore it up! Katie Kissoon is a goddess! So are PP and Susanah. The all had solo spots, duets with Rog and lots and lots of group harmony. All fabulous. There was a sax player. He was great too.
Ok, ok, I realize Iím risking writing a novella here so my secoond set review will have to wait. (I hear sighs of relief...) Hereís a quick synopsis: I missed Set The Controls. I had to go to the restroom. The break was about ten minutes long! Dark Side tunes were tops! Much too my surprise Money was truly inspired. Blistering soloís all around with great vocals. The Amused to Death songs were all excellent. Each Small Candle was a real surprise: for some reason I had expected a soft, major chord weeper, but this song is a real piece of work, I really enjoyed it.
In the end it was over too soon. We were all ready for the second half of the show. Six hours would have just been enough. I cant say enough about how good this band sounds, what an obvious love, intensity and awareness emanates from Roger and the players. Hats off to the crew also. Oh, I didnít mention the visuals. Tell the truth: the music was so damn good, I didnít even care!!!
Love to you all. This was the best show Iíve ever seen.