From The Providence Journal (7/17)
I get to providence two hours early...the streets are dead, I'm wondering if this is the same providence, rhode island that has the show that night. we wander the mall until 6pm when it closes (why build a temple to capitalism and then shut it down on sundays?). Then we just wander the streets. Eventually we get to the center, and theres maybe a thousand people milling around outside...theres a few shirts from the old days, atom heart mother etc...then there's the shirts that look like they're from the old days... then there's one guy with a division bell shirt, another with a momentary lapse shirt, and one chowdahead who had the audacity to wear an andrew lloyd webber shirt, blech. A sign outside the door forbids laser pointers. I think to myself, we've come to the point where we need to point these things out??? I mean, it doesnt say please don't bring in your strawberry shortcake e-z bake oven, does that mean I need to worry about the guy next to me fixing muffins during shine on??? They open the doors 30 minutes before the show and we pile in. Our seats are in section 229, which if you didn't know is conveniently located in sunny bemidji, wisconsin. its hot..africa hot... baptist church in houston hot...i want to grab a paper fan and scream `tell it, preacha man.' But i dont. The guy next to my girlfriend has a fake cast on his arm from which he pulls joint after joint the size of my middle finger. security...doesnt freaking exist...no metal detectors...no frisking...just a few poorly-paid kennedy cousins in yellow shirts. You could have smuggled in ten dat recorders and a bass amplifier.
So the show starts and were on our feet. The band is great, yada yada. Roger says `This is our last gig on this tour, and it's been a very emotional experience, one thats going to be hard to give up.' The crowd roars at the end of the first set so loudly that he can't even speak. He has to take a step back and hold his heart. second set, brilliant, yada yada. The only bad things about the show are nit picky and irrelevant, ie the diamond is cheesy, doyle looks like dylan on smack, snowy white is locked into four clapton licks and can't break free, etc. Each Small Candle, very well received. Actually, all of his solo stuff, very well received. A bit on the low key side, but then again, how are you supposed to receive It's a Miracle? The songs got a beat about as fast as bob hope's pulse. If I may go `street' with you for a moment...shout out to the lovely women at the show last night, dancing around having a great time...theres just something about a college woman in a sundress dancing to waters... makes me incapable of pronouncing consonants for hours...aaaaaaa....anyhoo, the show was sold out but there were enough empty seats dead center in the first section off the floor to park a tank. Seems like the scalpers got hosed. I'm glad.
Waters underscores art-rock origins of Pink Floyd's sound
By VAUGHN WATSON
Journal Pop Music Writer
On paper, the lyrics to several Pink Floyd songs spell out an orchestrated dourness that inspired much of '90s goth-rock, and goth's pop-sheen cousin, grunge rock.
But when Roger Waters brought the songs last night to the Providence Civic Center, three backup singers sang in an upbeat three-part harmony. They remade the music as an infallible antidote to moodiness.
Always intense and constructed with concentration, Waters's music was rebuilt around brightness, not melancholy.
The show reveled in long minutes of antipop art-rock: dogs barked in snippets of sound piped through a mountain of speakers; a pink pig scaled a city skyline on an Imax-sized screen behind the band.
The screen displayed a montage of images: blurred flashes of green and honey-yellow blocks, cubist art suggesting a geometric outline with which Waters could, in this moment, place his orchestrated music in, or in the next moment play music more creatively, outside the lines.
Then, the screen flashed to abstract stuff -- stoplight-red ink blotches that meant what you wanted them to.
Pink Floyd, which Waters and Syd Barrett co-founded in 1966, is the pioneer of this art-rock sound. But Waters is the architect of Pink Floyd, the music-artist behind The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon.
These days, art rock isn't a risky aesthetic, it's commonplace. Sonic Youth played art-rock last month with a free jazz edge at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel. Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails played the style with impenetrable goth-rock lyrics and darkness at the Civic Center in May. The shows were among the very best in those venues this year.
Now, Waters did what a pioneer does: He showed the origins of art-rock -- in interviews he prefers the term rock theater -- and musically painted the style in full, bright color.
At one point, on "Dogs," Waters and most of the band -- two guitarists, the singers and a keyboardist who were great all night -- retreated to a table set up on stage that was nearly out of the crowd's view.
They sat there for several minutes as a drummer and guitarist played on. It was as if the concert audience -- about 9,000 people filling the venue to just over two-thirds capacity -- didn't matter. Waters underscored the art-rockers point: Pink Floyd's rock exists because of -- but also in spite of -- its audience.
The songs' populist lyrics gave structure to the show. The songs carried refrains to fuel a teenager's superego two decades ago, less sinister but more bombastic than the bands and songs Pink Floyd has influenced -- Nirvana's "Teen Spirit" or Nine Inch Nails' "Somewhat Damaged."
But the show was not just about what the songs said. It was also about the instrumental journeys they took. "Welcome to the Machine" and "Breathe" featured long jams that whisked the music away from the lyrics, neatly recapturing the moment, say two decades ago, when a fan faded into the music and the blunt-smoke haze it inspired. And "Shine On" was pure sweet, arena rock.
Waters's tour is slightly undercut by the recent reissue of Pink Floyd's The Wall Live: Pink Floyd 1980-91. The top-shelf double CD sonically captures the vibe of the band's outdoor stadium show.
Even so, Waters plays music as art, and enjoys an audience for his art. But it seems that he would play music if the audience vanished today, or never materialized 24 years ago. And we're all better for it.