From Idaho Statesman by Michael Deeds (7/2)
I planned a trip from England to attend the Boise and Denver shows. I had a great time in the Colorado mountains but it was a hell of a boring drive through Utah into Idaho then on to Nampa for the gig. It was to be worth the effort.
The indoor Idaho Center is only 3 years old so not too many international performers have bothered with Idaho until recently, so this gig was pretty much the first time the Idaho faithful had seen Roger In The Flesh. There was a really good atmosphere in the small car park before the show, the local gas station a couple hundred meters away was well stocked up with cold booze which helped, and no police presence to upset the drinking and smoking. I fitted in easily with the local crowd who were happy to greet this apparently mad Englishman and anxious to know some detail about what to expect of the show (I went to the Camden and Hershey shows last August). A couple of Gulf War vets enlightened me of their harrowing experiences along with their British friends in '91.
Earlier I managed to get into the arena to find the stage area half prepared during loading up. The manager of the venue was misery personified and took great pleasure in escorting me out, even though I'd asked very politely to hang around awhile. I saw him again later, checking pockets for cameras at one of the entrances.
The arena was two-thirds full (the Idaho Press-Tribune reported 8,575 present, see their review). The show itself started slowly, Roger couldn't be seen on the platform in the dark and there were no hammer salutes. The Wall section seemed laboured (except for Snowy's superb blues solo on AB II) and this crowd was unexpectedly not excited by the introduction to Dogs. The audience really warmed up to the WYWH section, WYWH itself getting a great reception and Shine On performed magnificently with Snowy taking a lot of care. He performs fantastically all night. Unfortunately the projectionists cannot find focus easily in this small arena and struggle all evening. A guy behind me screams he's been ripped off until I tell him it's only an intermission, everyone howling with laughter. It's chaos around the venue perimeter at intermission, hot, crowded and confused. The doors are opened for fresh air.
I move to side stage left for the second set. Great position for appreciating the girls' efforts. The audience really respond during this set. Their earlier curiosity has been replaced by total appreciation. Roger acknowledges this before the band launch into Comfortably Numb.
Roger takes a long time soaking up the generous applause before settling everyone down to explain Each Small Candle ("we'll remember our trip to Boise for a long time"). Only one guy screams and he shuts up quickly after a dismissive glance from Roger. The audience are respectful, realising the intimacy from Roger. The song is played in almost silence. As the audience erupt at the end I see that the band have jumped into limos parked directly behind the stage and they're gone with the audience still wild. I soak up the atmosphere in the car park for an hour or so until I'm the last to leave, my tent waiting....then on back to Denver. A memorable night for the people of Idaho and Salt Lake, and one Englishman.
Imagine that you are a critic. That you are paid to see live performances. And that despite your fiery passion for music, after dozens and dozens of shows, going to a concert can sometimes seem like a job.
Then imagine feeling like you just saw you first concert all over again.
Such was the power of Roger Waters Saturday night at the Idaho Center.
The veteran English rocker, remembered as the creative force behind Pink Floyd, unleashed an immersive display that completely devoured the arena.
It didn't matter who you were - the tongue-pierced teen-ager or the graying father who got the $50 for a concert ticket from a freshly cashed-in 401K.
Waters spoke to you. And Waters was Pink Floyd.
The concert was a testament not only to Waters' charisma, but more so to the brilliance of the music he masterminded on classic Pink Floyd albums such as "Dark Side Of The Moon" and "The Wall."
These songs are decades old. But their force and longevity were indisputable.
To understand the intensity of the show, one must realize that this is as close to Pink Floyd as most of the 8,575 fans probably have ever gotten. Waters left the group in 1983. Seeing him in person was not unlike sharing a drink with a god.
Waters strode the stage like an omniscient king -- his height, his dark suit, his silver streaked hair giving him a majestic presence.
Waters and his exceptional backing band re-created Pink Floyd classics such as "Breathe" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" with stunning clarity. Waters stalked the stage, alternately singing, tearing into his bass, and egging the crowd into mob-mentality singalongs like "We don't need no education!" on "Another Brick In The Wall -- Part 2."
Welcome to the machine.
The sound effects that make Pink Floyd so popular with fans were overwhelming. Waters not only had a monstrous speaker stack above the stage, he had three four-directional stacks hanging above the crowd. Forget your home theater; this was surround sound.
Waters' backing band was armed better than Pink Floyd every could have hoped to be. Guitarists Doyle Bramhall and Andy Fairweather Low pumped fierceness into overplayed classics like "Money": Even the oft-stoic Waters grinned at Low's dirty, evil, nasty shredder of a guitar solo on that cut.
Waters seemed just as fascinated as the fans by the 40 by 80 foot screen behind the stage, which was constantly alive with bizarre imagery and melting, morphing colors.
But it was the music that kept lapping at your senses like waves on a shore: Brain-numbing moment after moment, from Pink Floyd trippers to Waters' solo material such as "Amused To Death."
One blown mind: Yours.
In the end, one couldn't help but feel sorry for all the people missing out on arguably the best concert the Idaho Center has ever seen.
Waters sang it best: "Wish You Were Here."