I was jazzed. With the exception of the 1990 Berlin Wall show, and a one-off benefit appearance in 1992, this tour has Roger Waters' first concert appearances since the 1987 Radio K.A.O.S. tour and the 1992 release of Amused To Death. Going in, I was expecting a long show, made up of a split between Roger's songs for Pink Floyd (as opposed to ones he co-wrote), and a healthy dose of his solo material, especially Amused To Death.
STAGE SETUP / BAND MEMBERS:
At the back of the stage was the long platform familiar from the previous Waters tours with stairs on either side. Immediately in front of the platform, from audience left to right was Graham Broad's drumkit, a space with a card table, chairs, a lamp and a TV set. For the most part, Andy Fairweather-Low stayed back in that space, switching between guitar and bass. To the right of the "space" were the keyboard set ups for Jon Carin (who also played some acoustic and sang) and Andy Wallace. At the front of stage, from left to right, was guitarist Snowy White (who'd played on the Animals tour, in the "surrogate band" on The Wall tour, and played the guitar solo on the rare version of "Pigs On The Wing" on the U.S. 8-Track tape release). Continuing to the right, we've got Roger (switching between bass and acoustic guitar), Doyle Brahmall II (lead guitar and vocals, singing most of Dave Gilmour's parts), and the two background singers, Katie Kissoon and P.P. Arnold. Behind Katie and P.P. was a sofa and another lamp. Behind the stage, instead of the familiar circular projection screen, was a stage-wide, 25-to-30 foot tall rectangular screen.
According to "The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia", Stanley Kubrick wanted to use music from Atom Heart Mother in A Clockwork Orange but the band turned him down because they wouldn't have control over the song's use. In '92, Roger asked Kubrick for permission to use some dialog excerpts from 2001: A Space Odyssey on Amused To Death and Kubrick turned him down. In what must have been a reference to this, the stage TV showed Kubrick's Paths Of Glory during the first set and 2001 during the second half.
The band came on at 8:00 sharp, and Roger headed for the top center of the platform. The band launches into "In The Flesh". Along the way, Roger's at the top of the platform making the "hammer" salute to the crowd and the crowd responded in kind. On the rear screen were still pictures from the 1990 Berlin Wall concert.
Roger came down to the regular part of the stage as the sound of a baby crying hit one of the speakers away from the stage. Following that, the band did "The Thin Ice", "Another Brick In The Wall - Part I", "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives" and "Another Brick In The Wall - Part II" without a break. "Another Brick II" was especially good, with Doyle stretching out a bit on the solo while keeping the right "feel" for the song. At this point, I was starting to wonder if Roger's first set was simply going to be The Wall! It is, after all, the 20th anniversary of the album's release. It didn't dawn on me until later that the version of "In The Flesh" he opened with was actually the one from the second half of the album. Anyway, after "Another Brick II", the band paused, and I figured "OK, he's not just going to play The Wall, that was just a tease."
Next up was "Mother", with Roger in fine voice and another good solo from Doyle. OK, maybe he is going to play The Wall!
Nope. Next was the sound effects and explosion from "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" followed by … nothing. Roger needed a new acoustic and didn't have it in time. Instead, a surprisingly chipper Roger said "Let me take the opportunity to say 'Hello!'". He seemed genuinely pleased with the crowd's response. Once Roger had his guitar, he went into a wonderful rendition of "Southampton Dock" while images of rows of wooden graveyard crosses and field of poppies was shown in the background. Simple, but effective.
Keeping the acoustic on, Roger went into "Pigs On The Wing (Part One)", and followed it with the first big surprise of the night, "Dogs". Yes, the full-blown, nearly side-long Animals track, and a brilliant rendition. Doyle handled the lead vocals on the beginning of the song. During the middle of the song, when you just hear the dogs barking and the keyboards & percussion, Roger and the guitarists sat down around the table and chatted while P.P. and Katie sat on their sofa and chatted. As the song built back up, Jon Carin played acoustic and sang the next verse, and Roger sang the last verse with the whole band behind him. On the rear screen were Berlin Wall images, replaced by images of the '77 tour's inflatables. Great, great rendition: the highlight of the first set.
On the screen, a familiar metallic white sphere was projected, which signalled the transition into "Welcome To The Machine". Oddly, the "Welcome" movie used in previous tours wasn't used, instead single images from the movie were shown instead. Following "Welcome" was a blast of radio static, followed by some chatter, more static, a brief snatch of classical music, followed by Doyle playing the soft opening chords to "Wish You Were Here". As on the album, the second guitar came in louder a few moments in. A very cool reproduction of the album introduction, and a nice version of the song overall. As the song ended, an image of Syd Barrett was breifly projected on the rear screen.
Next up was the second big surprise of the night, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". A faithful rendition, moving through the parts I to IV, omitting part V (the sax solo), going into parts VI and VII and the second verse and finishing with a reprise of part I. During the song, the background was mixed between a trippy 60's-style oil slide and numerous shots of Syd, and as the song wound down, a mirrored disk was raised up from behind the platform, showering the crowd with flashed of light. After the song, Roger simply said "for Syd" as the band left for their 20 minute intermission.
At this point, the pattern is clear. We're working in reverse order, with a bunch of songs from The Wall, Animals and Wish You Were Here (with a brief detour into the seemingly always under-appreciated The Final Cut). I figured the second half would either be all solo material, or pick up the pattern with a group songs from The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Dark Side it is. First thing you hear is a loud heartbeat, followed by "Breathe". The familiar blare of alarm clocks leads into "Time / Breathe (Reprise)". Roger and company skip "Great Gig", and go straight into the cash register effects and "Money". For the Dark Side set, Roger skipped the standard film for "Time" and instead showed a blow-up of the album sleeve, which slowly moved to the left, showing the long pattern that wraps the sleeve. For "Money" single images of coins were used instead of the film.
Following the Dark Side set was the waitress' voice from The Pros And Cons of Hitch-Hiking: "You want a cup of coffee?". An image of an 18-wheeler outside a truck stop was shown as Roger sang "5:06 AM (Every Stranger's Eyes)". The crowd seemed to quiet down here, and to be honest, I was afraid that they wouldn't be as "into" the solo parts of the show. Nice strong version of the song. As the song progressed, the background changed from the truck stop to a series of Native American shots. Not what I would have expected, but effective none-the-less.
Next up was Jim Ladd's voice doing the tag for Radio KAOS and introducing "The Powers That Be". A hot version that seemed to fire the crowd back up.
Surprisingly, those two songs were all that was used from Roger's first two solo albums. Next up on the screen was a gorilla with a remote watching TV and the band starting into "What God Wants, Part I", complete with the crowd chanting "What God wants, God gets, God help us all". I'm pleased. From what I'd heard, Amused To Death was considered a bit of a commercial failure (although I adore the record). Apparently, the crowd did too!
Up next was the highlight from the second set, "Perfect Sense, Part I" and "Perfect Sense, Part II". When Marv Albert's play by play was broadcast, the screen showed the image of an oil rig in a sub's sights. Roger, the band, and the crowd really got into this one. Roger sang without a guitar or bass, and this let him move across the stage, crying the lyrics out with open arms in a passionate rendition. The crowd went nuts. The background images showed falling through space, a clear nod to 2001. Roger apparently finally got his way!
The band skipped to the end of Amused, going next into "It's A Miracle". Another stunning rendition, with Roger holding his hands as if he was praying at the beginning of the song. Mid-way through, as Roger was again walking around the stage, a fan threw a t-shirt on stage. Surprisingly, Roger opened it up and flashed the front to the crowd. The t-shirt read "IT'S A MIRACLE". Neat bit of timing.
Wrapping up the Amused section was "Amused To Death" (of course), and another powerful rendition. The crowd went berzerk for the Amused material, and you could tell Roger was enjoying this. Hopefully, he takes the hint and records again!
I figured that would close out the set, but nope, to finish it out we got another taste of Dark Side with "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse", which whipped the crowd into a fine frenzy to end the show.
The applause after the show was thunderous. The crowd was roaring, and when the band came back out, they looked quite pleased.
The encore was the third big surprise of the night, "Comfortably Numb". The oil slide was back up and Doyle and Roger traded lead vocals on a terrific version of the song. It sounded wonderful to hear Roger's voice on this one again. The final solo was played by Snowy and Doyle, trading phrases from the top of the platform.
At this point, it's 11:00, and the house lights come back on. For a nice change of pace, no-one boos at the lights coming up. Then again, exactly what else could you have asked for?
Definitely a lower-key performance as far as the movies, puppets, inflatables and such go, but with this band, you didn't need it. The focus was clearly on the songs, and this band played 'em extremely well.
I was also surprised by the song selection. On his first two tours, the only songs that Waters played that he didn't write by himself were "Wish You Were Here" (written with Gilmour) and "Breathe" (written with Gilmour and Wright). On the KAOS tour, Jim Ladd even closed out a section of Floyd songs by announcing "Music and lyrics by Roger Waters". This time around, Roger didn't hold back. Along with the two I mentioned above, "Dogs", "Shine On", and "Comfortably Numb" are all co-written by Gilmour, and are big guitar showcases. Doyle Bramhall did quite well with them, and frankly, it was good to hear Roger sing these again. Co-writes or no, from Dark Side on, Roger was clearly the main mover in the Floyd, and it seemed like he was staking his claim to those songs again.
Thanks to RonToon@aol.com for permission to use his review of the Milwaukee stop on the tour as a memory jogger for this review.