For me, one of the most satisfying feelings I get from attending a Roger Waters show is the pre-show anticipation. It is difficult to convey to you in a concrete manner how I felt yesterday when I managed to upgrade from my 21st row, outside aisle seats, to 4th row, dead center seats. My deepest gratitude goes to Mr. Waters for keeping these seats from the slippery hands of scalpers, and granting a well-intentioned fan the opportunity to see the show from the most intimate of locales. Not only was I going to see Roger for the 3rd time in the past year, but I was going to see and connect with him from the closest vantage point yet. I find a stadium show to be a more personal, fulfilling experience when I can look into the eyes of the performer and drink in the communicative expressions of his face.
I met my brother, who attended the Kansas City show with me last year, at 5:30 in the afternoon. As we live in Western Wisconsin, a drive to Minneapolis is a short 30 minute jaunt. Fueling my pre-concert anxiety was a two-front assault on my sanity: not only did my brother insist on driving to the show on mere fumes (extreme gas prices), but we needed to unload the 21st row tickets to recoup the cost of upgrading to our new location. We managed to find a gas station in St. Paul before we entered Minneapolis and parked within blocks of the Target Center. In haste, I left my brother to his pre-show beer in the parking ramp, and ventured up 7th Avenue to grab my tickets at the Will Call ticket booth inside the venue.
As I crossed 1st Avenue, I noticed a brown-haired, mustached man with anti_christ's candle T-shirt passing me on the cross walk.
I said, "Steve."
"Yes," he replied with guarded surprise.
"Jason (WI) from ATD."
"Hey," he said as he extended his hand in greeting and introduced me to his friend Deb.
I pulled him over to the kerb and asked him where he was sitting, to which he replied, "Row 3, seats 1 and 2."
"That's directly in front of me!"
I told Steve and Deb that I needed to get rid of some tickets and that I'd see them inside of the venue. He needed to sell one as well.
After collecting my tickets from Will Call, I wandered back out to scout out some locations. I walked to the west side of the arena, where I spotted a couple walking together, the young lady holding the now infamous stuffed monkey.
"Loadstone!" I thought.
I approached him and asked, "What do you have inside that monkey?"
Taken aback, he quickly replied in a defensive recoil, "Nothing."
"I'm just kidding. I'm Jason (WI) from ATD," I said.
We shook hands as Loadstone mentioned that Roger had been at the nearby blue door moments earlier to greet and sign autographs for the fans who had collected in the area.
To reiterate, I needed to get rid of some tickets. As it was approximately an hour before commencement of In the Flesh, I found my brother, and we started offering the floor tickets that we had. Surprisingly, few people were interested in the below-cost price of $40 each that we offered. I was agitated knowing that this was truly one of the greatest concerts to come through the Twin Cities area in a long time, and had this been a "Pink Floyd" show, that I could have commanded much more than the $35 dollars I got in return for the tickets. Oh well. I would gladly eat the difference and think of my 4th row seats as $70 seats.
We entered the stadium about 20 minutes to 8 pm. I noticed only one middle-aged man wearing a Division Bell t-shirt (with cut-off sleeves, no less). A great many other younger attendees sported black Pink Floyd shirts that were either catalog-ordered, or purchased at the Division Bell show.
At the floor gates, a few young guys were gathered and noticed that I had on my '99 In The Flesh shirt on. One guy asked if there were lasers, to which I replied that this show is about music, not special effects. He seemed genuinely disappointed by my revelation. I told him that the band is top-notch, the sound is impeccable, and the set list is long. Poor fellow. I hope Pink Floyd tours soon for his sake! Not really.
I made my way to my seats and greeted Steve and Deb once again. We talked briefly about their Las Vegas experience and the meeting of James Guthrie and Doyle and Suzanah.
At that point, I reached into my pocket and extracted a box of four small white candles that I had purchased that afternoon. I explained that I was going to light one of the candles and hold it in the air for the entirety of Each Small Candle. I handed both Steve and Deb a candle and invited them to join me in the endeavor. We decided that the best time to light the candles would be once Roger took to the stage for the encore.
The show, as expected, was excellent. The sound is completely different in the front rows compared to the center and rear rows of the floor. From this location, the sound emanated more from the stage than it did from the surround system. To that end, the overall effect of the quad sound was washed out. However, the sound was still excellent, although the atmosphere that I experienced in the center of the floor in Kansas City was greatly reduced.
At intermission, I walked back to the mixing console to take a look around. I asked an engineer if Roger was recording the show, since I noticed several multi-track recorders. He said that they use those for the quad system. I asked him when he was going to retire so I could replace him, to which he replied with a narrow smile and a short chuckle. He told me that he ran the projection system. It is a computerized setup which uses customized software to control the projected sequences. I said that I noticed that Roger tamed down some of the visuals, especially on Wish You Were Here. He mentioned that Roger is tiring of some of the complexity of the sequences, and that he is striving for a simpler presentation.
The second set commenced shortly after my conversation.
After the band took its final hand-linked bow from the front of the stage, and Roger shook the hands of some overzealous fans, one of whom grasped him too hard for his liking, nearly pulling Roger from the stage, the band disappeared into the bowels of the stage. Mitchell, a concert-goer from the Milwaukee area seated to my right, attempted to leave, whereat I informed him that Roger plays a new song, Each Small Candle, to conclude the performance. He was surprised, expressing that he thought that house lights meant the conclusion of a show. Well, the house lights weren't fully on, and the crowd was cheering uncontrollably, providing the highest decibel registering moment of the evening.
The house lights dimmed again. A renewed wave of excitement swept over the multitudes. Steve, Deb, and I noticed Roger's spectre-like form emerge from center stage. At that point we lit our candles and raised them above our heads. Roger, taking center stage, threw a noticeable glance in our direction, widening his eyes, and nodding his head forward in surprise. Steve mentioned afterward that Doyle and Snowy both looked in our direction and sported genuine smiles. This I didn't notice.
Roger gave his usual pre-song explanation of his inspiration for Each Small Candle, the stage lights dimmed again, and we continued raise our candles high, the wax dripping from the flame and collecting in trails on my hand throughout the tightly performed song, until Roger struck his lighter and held it high for 10 seconds in unison with our candles and the sea of lighters, setting the venue aglow.
House lights on. The band waves goodbye. I get a genuine wave of acknowledgement from Snowy. The band disappears into the recesses of the stage, into its blacked-out vans, and makes its way out into the "Merciless, unfeeling world," having again connected with a few small candles. Enjoy the rest of the tour folks!