We Call It Riding The Gravy Train
"I looked it up, and apparently Dark Side of the Moon is a widely praised and popular album. Huh. Learn something new every day." --Don Fielder, 9/14/06
Just your typical Wednesday night in the city: the world's most famous arena filled with explosive pyrotechnics, great balls of fire, visually stimulating backdrops, floating life-sized astronauts, over-inflated pigs tagged with controversial slogans, more Republicans than Rebels, and the British Bill Maher with his 12-piece band playing a complete Dark Side of the Moon as the second set. All that's missing were whips, chains and Yo-Yos.
Every male goes through a hardcore Pink Floyd phase some time between the ages of 14 and 20. Many people have that Zeppelin phase, some have the Grateful Dead phase, even fewer have a Falco phase. But everyone remembers that night when you first heard Floyd's legendary concept album from start to finish and then ran naked through that dog park in Des Moines while high on stinky schwag and your friend's dad's bottle of Jameson. Everybody remembers, whether you got down and jacked off that dog or not.
Given that, it should come as no shock that last night's Roger Waters' show at Madison Square Garden was really fucking special. And I'm not talking solely about nostalgic appreciation; the music itself was truly incredible. Anticipatory urges had most fans looking forward to the second set, but the first featured some of the best shit of the night: In the Flesh, Mother, Set The Controls and a troika of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (complete with Clarence Clemons-type sax soloing), Have a Cigar and Wish You Were Here.
Perhaps the non-DSOTM highlight came late in the first set, when Waters launched into a brief pro-Arab introduction to his newest song and followed it up with a staunchly anti-Bush ditty about bombing innocent civilians. This marked the first time I've ever seen a performer booed and hissed in the hundreds of concerts I've attended (not counting the jaded vets at Coventry). The older couple next to us took off in a hurry and never came back. The guy in front of us with the Andy Reid moustache and Bass Pro Shops hat repeatedly flipped the bird and yelled profanities. The dude behind Lukas on Tuesday night screamed, "Liberalism is a disease" at the top of his lungs.
I can understand the apolitical folks that don't enjoy the preaching, but for those in opposition, are you even familiar with Pink Floyd's repertoire? I mean, really, what happened in between the time when Waters asked "Mother, should I trust the government?" to thunderous applause and this Leaving Beirut song? Did these right wingers think that first query was strictly a hypothetical? Apparently all the booing and hissing d-bags want their rock, but they don't want their boat rocked (thank you, thank you). I'll enjoy any song that makes 15,000 people as uncomfortable as possible.
The Dark Side set featured Floyd drummer Nick Mason, which may set up an epic cage mage between Waters and Mason against David Gilmour and Richard Wright, who played with Gilmour at Radio City at his most recent run here. And since Gilmour looks like the bruiser of the group and Waters the suave manager/"Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart type, I think the fight will really come down to Mason and Wright. And it'll be one for the ages, bigger than the MegaPowers exploding and the break-up of The Rockers combined.
Waters still has it, both the voice and the bass skills. And compared to Jack the Bruce at the Cream reunion, he looked like...well, compared to Bruce he looked like anyone who's currently alive. He also has a great 10-piece band behind him (11 with Mason, Roger makes 12), but the key to the band is lead guitarist and possible Los Lonely Boy or Richie Sambora lookalike, Dave Kilminster. Believe it or not, this guy pulls off Gilmour's sound completely, far surpassing my expectations. If the not-so-inevitable Floyd reunion tour never materializes, Kilminster is probably as suitable a replacement as Waters will find outside the Arab world.
The show ended with a classic three-song encore. First Waters brought out about 20 kids from the Boys Club choir to shuffle their feet and belt out Another Brick in The Wall Part II, a scene that alone was worth the price of admission (and this was the only show on tour where he has done this). Then following the Vera filler, the band closed out the night with the most appropriate song for a fanbase that just witnessed greatness: Comfortably Numb. Cue the house lights, drive home safely, folks.
What's really great about the show is that you think you know what you're going to get when you walk through the turnstiles. But when some awesome and probably interchangeable black chick is belting out Great Gig in the Sky on stage at Madison Square Garden, with Waters and Mason pounding away, with a palpable buzz in the air, with huge screens behind and next to the stage enhancing the music, you just forget how wickedly blessed you are to be in that seat.
Sure, it ain't the full monty, but at least you're seeing some flesh.
Slack Mangled Quotation of the Night: Upon seeing the tagged pig with slogans like "Impeach Bush Now," Don exclaimed "Are they gonna send out an over-inflated raccoon with 'America Needs to Change Its Appropriations on the Housing & Urban Development Committee'?" That happened before his changing of every lyric to "hoooagies."
Slack Video of the Day: From the recent Live 8 Reunion, here's a little Comfortably Numb and some Money. And here's a quick clip I took of Brain Damage from the MSG show.
Slack Song of the Day: There's only band I'd ever trust to nail DSOTM, and they did just that on 11/2/98 to a half-sold arena in fucking West Valley, Utah. The fun begins about 2:10 into these shennanigans.