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Pink Floyd's Roger Waters transfixes GM Place crowd!

Roger Waters
Photograph by : Steve Bosch

Vancouver Sun
Friday June 21th 2007
CA Vancouver BC
General Motors Place

By John Mackie:
Doing recitals of classic rock LPs live is quite the trend these days. Brian Wilson came back from the dead, creatively speaking, with a sparkling show based around the Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds. Deep Purple hauled Machine Head out of mothballs, sans Ritchie Blackmore. And Thursday, former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters brought an 11-member band to a sold-out General Motors Place to perform the Floyd’s magnum opus, Dark Side of the Moon.


Waters has been famously estranged from his former band since they decided to carry on without him after Waters left in 1983. His solo career has never really taken off, but touring around Dark Side has put him back in the big rooms (albeit smaller big rooms than the football stadiums Pink Floyd normally plays).


In any event, Waters has always laid claim to being the main force behind Pink Floyd’s music and unique live shows. His GM Place show made a fairly convincing argument on his behalf.


Pink Floyd has always been known for putting on a spectacular show, and Waters lived up to the legend. There was so much going on, at times it was overwhelming. An angry-looking giant pink pig floated through the air during Sheep, tattooed with graffiti like “All Religions Divide,” “Fear Builds Walls,” and “Impeach Bush.” At another point a spaceman who looked like Expo Ernie was launched into the audience. There were big booms and big flames, a razzle-dazzle light show, and an on-going movie that played behind the band on a giant screen throughout the show, much of it revolving around a young guy getting buzzed in his room listening to the radio.


The funny thing about the show was the pacing. Almost all the big props were in the first part of the concert, which was something of a hits set spanning the Floyd’s career, from Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun to Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Wish You Were Here.


By comparison, the Dark Side of the Moon set was fairly subdued, spectacle-wise. But I guess if Waters would have kept the intensity up as high as the opening set, somebody would have had a heart attack, or maybe O.D.’d on prog-rock bliss.


The crowd was mostly guys (probably 70-30) and all over the place age-wise. There seems to a whole new young crowd of Dark Side fans, and there were a surprising number of fans up around Waters age (63). The crowd drank one hell of a lot of beer: one of the funniest moments of the long night was seeing legions of them sprint for the washroom when Waters slowed things down with Have a Cigar.


The band was very very good, replicating the records pretty much spot-on. There were three guitarists, three female backing singers, two keyboard players, a sax player, a drummer, and Waters. (One of the keyboard players was his son Harry, who is indeed quite hairy — his long locks cascade down his back.)


The lead guitar playing was split between Snowy White and Dave Kilmester, who also got the dubious honour of singing many of the songs Dave Gilmour did in the Floyd, such as Money. This was one of the only ways the concert didn’t measure up to the last couple of Pink Floyd shows at BC Place Stadium — Gilmour’s voice and guitar playing are the most distinctive part of the Pink Floyd sound, and although Kilmester (and keyboardist Jon Carin) gave it a good try, they didn’t quite measure up.


Waters also isn’t the world’s greatest singer. He strained to hit notes at times, and kept mum through most of Dark Side, letting Kilmester, Carin and Andy Fairweather-Low to share the group vocals with Katie Kassoon, PP Arnold and Carol Kenyon.


Not that anybody else seemed to notice. The crowd was totally transfixed by the tunes and the show, punching the air with aplomb and howling their approval after each song. Us and Them was fabulous, as was The Great Gig in the Sky and Time. There was a mass singalong on Wish You Were Here, as well as on Another Brick in the Wall, Part II. When the last notes of Comfortably Numb faded away, there probably wasn’t a single unsatisfied customer in the house.

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