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Roger Waters, Jun 19, 2000 (San Diego, CA)

by Ted Eckmann

Bloody great concert. Never thought I'd see a Pink Floyd show
in my lifetime, having been only two years old when they broke-up,
but that's exactly what happened last night at Coors Amphitheater,
San Diego. Roger Waters has still got it -- the vocals were crisp and
emotional; the supporting band really did the Floyd tunes justice as
well... especially the guitarists. Three of 'em, two trading-off
sections of the extended solo for "Comfortably Numb." And, of course,
the simultaneously choreographed twin guitar solos for "Dogs". Twelve
hours later and its just now hitting me -- that was Pink Floyd. I saw
Pink Floyd.


And then the "stage show" aspect of it was rather nice too.
(severe understatement) Incredible semi-still images moving across
the background screen in hypnotic stop-animation. The multiple
projectors forming the canvas illustration slowly faded between
frames; the smooth composition would change so gradually over time
that I barely noticed the individual transitions, as if staring at a
night sky for a few hours and coming to the sudden realization that
the stars aren't in the same place anymore. The Dark-Side prism
screen will be stuck in my head for days; otherwise black background
with blinding shiny-white illumination focused on the drummer for the
intro to "Time." The setup included rear-channel speakers, positioned
just behind the permanent seats and facing towards the stage (which
left the grass-goers without the quadraphonic surround-sound effect).
This was particularly powerful for the cash-register opening of
"Money", as anyone with a nice stereo separation on their home system
could have predicted.


Interesting use of stage furniture, particularly as Waters
and three other musicians sat down to the card table and played a
hand during the instrumental break midway through "Dogs". This
star-field-backed setup also aided in communicating the "2001" aura.
An audio motif of HAL's voice and a stage-prop television showing
scenes from Stanley Kubrick's film worked nicely with the spacey
theme and atmosphere of the post-Floyd solo pieces.


A very polished performance; clean musicianship, well mixed,
carefully engineered. Even the occasional improvisation, (but no
ghost-like piano coda on Wish You Were Here). Certainly missing a bit
of the original band's essence in having an imperfect substitute for
Gilmour, but the tour is certainly redeemed by the untarnished (and
unchanged) quality of Roger's highly charismatic and
difficult-to-imitate voice. Overall, a trance-like, and fully genuine
Pink Floyd composition throughout.


Wouldn't have been complete without the typical Floyd
audience, I guess the eleventh band member in this case. Talked with
two "Fear and Loathing" types before the show about the acid trips
they were on when Floyd (minus Waters) played San Diego back in
'94... not sure which one was the attorney. And then the tye-dye-clad
flower children dancing on the grass, a few sans-bra twentysomething
girls. "We Don't Need No Education/We Don't Need No Thought Control"
(with fake British accent) Sang aloud by the roughly 10,000 in
attendance.


Although undoubtedly a minority view, I actually enjoyed the
lesser-know Waters solo-project songs more than the big-hit Floyd
favorites. The once raucous audience subdued to a near awestruck
silence for the touching barrage of meaning-filled Waters originals.
Inspired by the essence, beauty, and sincerity, I could do nothing
but sit in wondrous reverie; mouth gaping, ears rejoicing.


Together with two selections from the haunting cold-war album
"The Final Cut", a new Waters tune called "Each Small Candle"
delivered a powerful message of humanist tolerance in the wake of
conflict in Kosovo. By craftily positioning it as the second encore
selection, Waters used the rock-concert clich of the raised
cigarette lighter (numerous fireflies glowing in the darkened seats
of Coors) to connect with the "Small Candle" on a symbolic level.
This poetic song, inspired by a Serbian soldier's act of compassion,
concluded the concert with a solemn Amnesty International logo
displayed on the large screen. Thoroughly sobering end, to a
fantastically surreal psychedelic adventure. (All this, thanks to a
senior citizen)


I'll see if I can scrape together the cash to go see Waters again in
LA, or a later stop of this tour. For younger Floyd fans (of my age),
seeing Roger Waters perform live may be a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity, but I sure would like to contradict the clich and see
him twice. (or more)


- Ted Eckmann
tedeckmann@yahoo.com