Thanks to Dan Kimball

My first-ever evening with Roger Waters began in amusingly surreal fashion, when I engaged in this bit of dialogue with a security guard at the main gates:

SG: “Wow, man, cool Zeppelin shirt!”
Me: “Um, actually, it’s a Mars Volta shirt.”
SG: “Have you ever seen Zeppelin, man?”
Me: “Um, no, sorry. They broke up when I was about a year old.”
SG: “Awright! Cool, man!”

End of conversation.

Since this was the state of the Shoreline staff, you can imagine what the rest of the crowd was like. By that, I mean friendly, loud, and really, really HIGH. At times, the vibe within the Shoreline Ampitheatre – packed to a capacity of 20 to 25,000 people, its tent-like ceiling bathed in red lights – seemed so light-headed that I thought people’s noggins were going to float into the clear night sky like Roger’s giant pig.

Yes, the pig did soar again tonight, I’m sure much to the chagrin of nearby air traffic control at San Jose International Airport (“Uh, sorry guys, we have an unidentified pig on the radar… say, does anybody know what ‘Kafka Rules’ means?”). The show soared, too – I’ve been to plenty of concerts in ’06, and this was definitely one of the best. The crowd was a bit spacy, yes – especially the two idiots sitting next to me, who talked through the whole damn show – but on the whole, they were enormously enthusiastic and enormously respectful of Roger. And fortunately, the gigantic surround sound system was pumping hard enough to drown out even the most loudmouthed revelers. Roger and the band seemed very taken with the crowd, and responded with a thunderous, high-energy performance filled with singalongs and left-wing grandstanding.

Although I’ve watched Roger’s DVD’s and listened to several recordings, I don’t think I was quite prepared for just how good this show would be live. On tape, his live performances come across as a sturdy, if a bit detached, nostalgia act masquerading as a solo show. But last night truly felt like you were being given the essence of Roger’s worldview, both as a member of Floyd and as a solo performer, and that added a lot of depth to the performance. Maybe it’s because he’s a guy who truly has something to say, and in an environment of political and cultural upheaval such as now, the things he has to say really ought to be heard.

At Shoreline, he was preaching to the choir: newly-relevant pieces like “Southampton Dock” and “The Fletcher Memorial Home”, “Perfect Sense Pt. 1 and 2”, new tune “Leaving Beirut”, and an emotional “Bring the Boys Back Home” were all greeted with loud cheers (Bush-bashing moments were especially popular!). And, of course, his backing band was spectacular, never more so than on the show-stopping version of “Sheep” that closed out the first half. Now, if only Shoreline security had not been so anal about making me sit down…

Dark Side of the Moon. What can I say? It was perfect. From the terrific solo vocals on “Great Gig” to the amazing surround effects on Jon Carin’s keyboards for “Any Colour You Like”, the whole thing just built on itself and got better and better as it went along. Shoreline has two walkways on either end of the stage, where there is only a short blue fence separating the performer from the audience. Roger spent a surprising amount of time on both of those walkways, shaking hands, singing lyrics off-mic, and even leaning over to hear individual comments from nearby crowdmembers. He has become quite the populist in his latter years, and it seems to suit him very well.

By the time the encore came along, Roger could’ve read the phone book backwards and had the crowd cheering. Luckily, they belted out the regular set of encore tunes instead, all of them terrific. As he stared out at a sea of lighters flickering on the lawn, Roger said, “Wow, that is a sight. You guys have been fantastic. It means a lot to us.” Seems like he meant it, too.

Thanks to George Zip

I have seen Roger Waters solo 3 times before (Pros and Con of Hitchhiking tour with Clapton twice, and Radio KAOS tour). I would say that this was the most energetic I have seen him in his enthusiasm and what seemed to be sincere appreciation of the people there. The crowd up front consisted of what looked like many joyful engineers working at software companies who came out to see their hero. At least near the front, it seemed like the most geeky dressed and unfashionable group I have ever seen as at a concert, yet I have never seen such pure joy that they all had. Just watching the fans all around me was a wonderful thing in itself. The fellow next to me actually had tears coming down his face when “In The Flesh” started.

oneThe gigantic screen in the back never seemed to slow down and kept a strong visual enhancer to the music itself. I will say that I missed some of the more fancy and laser lighting that both Waters and the Water-less Pink Floyd have used on past tours. Gilmour used a ton of lasers and lights on his recent tour and having at least some might have added more and I missed them being biased from previous experiences. There were bubbles released though which was surprising to see them come down during one of the earlier songs, which I am forgetting right now which one.

The show was musically flawless. The background singers were superb. I hate comparing, but having just seen Gilmour 6 months ago did leave the sense of vacancy to me in the guitar solos. Snowy White seemed subdued in his solos – and the other fellow was a little too “I am a rock star wearing black leather pants and spiral my head around and let my hair flop while I play solos on my bright aqua guitar”. He didn’t quite seem to fit the band in my opinion as he looked and acted more like a guitarist for Journey or an 80’s rock band. But musically he was very good. But still, and I am sure it gets tiring of people saying this – Gilmour was definitely missed and the guitar solos noticeably missing his strength.

twoIt was weird as in previous Roger Waters shows in earlier tours, I don’t think I noticed it as much. But maybe just seeing Gilmour live and also seeing the re-united Floyd on Live 8 made me more conscious of the missing Dave G.

I think that the personality of Roger Waters and his songwriting comes out and is obvious what carries the song and that is what was missing when Gilmour did the songs without Roger. Roger’s charisma comes through more in communicating the songs and you see his soul behind them as they are being played.

The set list is already posted, but the song selection was great. There was intensity during “Bring the Boys Back Home” for sure. I wish there weren’t as many anti-George Bush comments however. It just feels a little sense of betrayal for why you go to a concert when political views are so strongly stated in that way of mocking. I know that an artist is free to do whatever he or she feels, but I wish that wasn’t done.

Dark Side of the Moon was wonderful and it felt like sitting with an old friend and hearing the story of their life from beginning to end again. It was great. The band and Roger really seemed to be enjoying themselves and it did not feel like a routine at all.

I will say that I think the show was really, really a good one – I walked out very, very content and so happy I went.

Review and accompanying pictures thanks to Dan Kimball

Roger---ShorelineWOW, I can’t believe I just saw the same show and it seemed completely different. I think it was the venue and the crowd so …. I now believe the reviews about the crowd at the Hollywood Bowl.

I got to the show early and was greeted by Ian Ritchie, who brought me back stage to chat. I asked him many questions, mostly about the tour and his musical history and background then it was time to take my seat. I have been keeping tabs with Ian’s Blog and he thanked me for my suggestion to help sell his CD (it’s Jazz and wonderful, by the way). I got to meet Dave Kilminster and see Harry Waters, Andy Fairweather Low and Graham Broad, who also had friends, acquaintances and family back stage in a dining area. All were relaxing after the sound check and all seem as if you see them on stage, relaxed and approachable. Dave was rather shy as he blushed when chatting with me. I will share more about what I learned of the show with you later, as here’s my review:

The show opened late because there was too much traffic and only one way in … plus the baseball playoff game across the bay made things a bit snarly. The announcement was made and a couple more Neil Young songs were played. No Worries!

When it did start you could feel the difference in the room immediately. Roger came out and could feel it too because he traveled around the stage and smiled and sang along to parts he didn’t sing to. Three different times in the show he came up to where my seat was and stood and played right in front of me!!!!. I can die happy now that I’ve been that close to him playing (row K, 14 rows up on the right side). One time he looked up at me and the other dancing and smiling at him and smiled back. I could have touched him, he was that close! I also got a wave from him as I was one of the only people in my section standing for Perfect Sense. Yes, this review is biased as I am a Roger Waters fan.

DSC00987The sound was better tonight, more surreal and all around the room. I could hear Dave’s guitar clearly and the solo’s were better than the previous performance, which was good then so this night became great! Carol Kenyon was even better with ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ and much more appreciated by the smaller crowd. She got two standing ovations. More people stood up the entire concert and Leaving Beruit had people cheering in agreement with Roger’s views.

This time, Sheep did not seem lip synched as Roger cut one of the extended lines short (that was my personal favorite of this night). He seemed more animated, alert and well respected tonight than the prior performance where he seemed to just go through the motions. I don’t know where that guy who wrote a previous review was as Roger’s voice sounded great to me! The pig being set free and Roger’s line of ‘Shit Happens!’ was unique and fun to hear. He also stopped at one point and admired the lighters and ‘cell phones’ (the new lighters) that were displayed on the lawn. The entire lawn was lit up. This crowd loved this show.

I did have two ‘fuddy duddies’ next to me and spoke with a David Gilmour fan who said he was disappointed … but them aside, most seemed pleased. I do feel sitting farther back gave the experience of the whole better than the close up seats and the individual sound effects were heard more clearly, but it might be a venue thing as I have read that the Hollywood Bowl had many technical difficulties. All seats at the Shoreline were terrific. The traveling voices and the sound system worked much better at this venue too. There were a lot of cameras, especially on the stage behind the artists that I didn’t see in Hollywood. I would see them filming but not see anything on the small screens above our heads. Makes me wonder what they are filming for???

Other little details: I found out that the pig is hand graffiti’d by Roger for every show and that there are two sizes of pigs, depending on the venue. Also, those of us in the US did not see the pyro’s in front of the stage as the US has laws against that. The ones at Hollywood Bowl were unique to that setting and very minor. Dave told me he did not have good performances in LA except for the Sunday show. Keith Emmerson was there to see him and he used to work with him. I also still feel like the guy in the video on the screen during ‘Comfortably Numb’ looked like a young Gilmour …They were sticklers about cameras this show.

That aside, great first Pink Floyd related event to go to. I thank my sister, her friend Daryl, the fun guy in front of me at the Hollywood Bowl (who saw Live 8, Gilmour and Waters all in the last year and a half) and I thank you all for reading this.

Review and accompanying pictures thanks to Gina

rogersfIn a stunning 2.5 hour concert that showed why some classic rock has earned the right to be called classic, Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter Roger Waters finally answered the question so many fans have been asking for decades.

Oh by the way, which one’s Pink?

Well, after seeing shows by Waters and former partner David Gilmour six months apart, the answer is definitely, undeniably, unmistakably…..


Or both.

And, to be honest, until tonight, I was favoring Gilmour, whose post Floyd work has been more in line with the sound and thunder of the original band.

But Tuesday, even with a voice that was ripped to shreds, Waters put on a show that was at times equal and at times better than any other post-Floyd concert, including those under the false Floyd name.

I’d say he tied Gilmour, both showing equal parts of the things that made Floyd so famous.

The concert was supposed to showcase a complete version of the 1972 classic, “Dark Side of the Moon,” but the real highlights were some of Waters’ later works, including a new song that was a bitter indictment of America under George Bush.

(point for Waters for keeping politics in a music form that once prided itself on being revolutionary)

The highlights included “In the Flesh,” the show opener, which also open’s the band’s second-most popular album, “The Wall.” Waters and his band of 10, ripped into that one, bringing the fictional fashistic band to life. The backup included two guitarists playing Gilmour’s parts, longtime Waters sideman Snowy White and David Kilminster, known most for playing in recent Keith Emerson bands.

On the second to last night of a long tour that ends Thursday in Seattle, this revved-up band did what may have been the best live version ever of “Sheep,” off 1977’s “Animals.” It throbbed and pulsed, as if it had taken on a life of its own. It didn’t need the smaller version of a flying pig, led around by some bloody slaughterhouse folk, and released into the sky.

A lot of the rest of the show was stock Floyd, played by a solid cover band with one of the original voices intact. Which isn’t a bad thing, but didn’t take the liberties with the songs that Gilmour took in April. The man who, created the original guitar line melodies updated them perfectly, playing the some of the best live versions of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Comfortably Numb.”

(Score one for Gilmour for continuing the spirit of musical creativity.)

But while Gilmour’s smaller shows on the last tour win for pure musicality, Waters far outdid him in theatrics.

Both songwriters have kept Floyd’s music alive by also focusing on the visual arts. Gilmour brought the better lights and lasers; Water had a better sound system and more artistic video show. He had surround-sound-like speakers around the sides of the theater making sound effects, something the Floyd pioneered.

He made each song into its own three-dimensional play, with characters and themes on a huge LED screen in the center and images of the band on smaller screens to the side.

The show started and ended with a character, presumably the Wall’s frustrated rock star, listening to the radio, lying in bed, drinking and smoking. The music sprung off the radio as the band came to life.

Later it flashed political images of the wall Israel put up, with Waters’ scrawled grafitti: “We don’t need no thought control” and during the new song, “Leaving Beirut,” it became a literal comic strip, telling the story of Waters’ stay in the home of a poor Lebanese family when he was young, and showing the lyrics to the song which blasts war and killing in the Middle East.

“Are these the people we should bomb/Are we so sure they mean us harm,” he sang. And later, more forcefully, “Oh George, Oh George, That Texas education must have f…. you up when you were very small.”

He decried the current state of England, the former bulldog, that is now a stooge, a “poodle snapping found the scoundrel’s last refuge.”

Musically, the song floundered a bit, but lyrically, it was one of Waters’ best post-Floyd works.

Two ponderous entries from the last Floyd album, 1983’s “The Final Cut,” and one, “Perfect Sense,” from his 1992 solo work, “Amused to Death,” were saved by intriguing video.

On the last one, the film showed a war in the middle of a giant colliseum, with a submarine firing a torpedo at a ship and announcer Marv Albert doing play-by-play. It made for a great antiwar statement, and satirized the U.S. at the start of the Iraq war, when patriotism was so fevered, it was like a competition to see who could show the most flags on their lapels.

The film directors on this show deserve as much credit as the musicians.

Pink Floyd was always groundbreaking in its video, and while much of Dark Side used the old videos, there was a part during “On the Run” during which the screen seemed to spin colors onto the wall of fog alongside it like an hallucination, an effect that seemed as revolutionary today as the original videos did in the seventies.

(Sorry to report, the sound and vision on the lawn didn’t compare to what was in the more expensive seats.)

It’s 2 a.m….three hours since the show….my mind is still reeling.

If I were buying to bootlegs of the shows, I’d prefer Gilmour’s with its more adventurous musical explorations. If I were to pay to watch them, Waters wins hands down for a show that was as visual as it was musical.

Review & pic thanks to Brad Kava

Set List

FIRST HALF: In The Flesh, Mother, Set The Controls For the Heart Of The Sun, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Southampton Dock, The Fletcher Memorial Home, Perfect Sense parts 1 and 2, Leaving Beirut, Sheep.

SECOND HALF: Dark Side of the Moon.

ENCORE: The Happiest Days Of Our Lives, Another Brick In The Wall (Pt 2), Vera, Bring the Boys back Home, Comfortably Numb.

Thanks to George Zip

Thanks to George Zip

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