Roger Waters wows Tampa

Photo by Phil Bardi.
Pink Floyd guru Roger Waters dazzles the Ford Amp crowd.

Tampa Calling
Tampa FL
Ford Amphitheatre

Here’s my Roger Water review that will run in the Loaf that hits newsstands Thursday. I lucked out and watched the spectacle from about 10 rows back. Events Editor Leilani Polk witnessed the concert from the rowdy lawn area. Mid show, I got a text from her that read: “Down with the pig!” The pink inflatable got stuck on a screen right in front of where she was seated. Look for her take on the concert in the comments section.


Roger Waters had always struck me as cold — a morose type more inclined to scowl than smile, the kind of performer content to merely stand center stage all night, resistant to the even slightest hint of showmanship.


But when Waters performed Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,000 at Ford Amphitheatre in Tampa, it was clear from the get-go that the man was in good sprits and anxious to entertain. Yeah, Waters and his squad of seasoned guitarists, keyboardists, saxophonist, drummer and backup singers enthusiastically re-created The Dark of Side The Moon, the 1973 Pink Floyd opus for which Waters wrote all the lyrics and a good chunk of the music. The band also treated the audience to a slew of favorites from The Wall and Wish You Were Here, the two other Floyd albums that have wormed their way into the consciousness of a (mostly) male demographic that ranges from disaffected teens to nostalgic baby boomers.


Saturday’s concert began with a bang. The ominous, opening strands of “In the Flesh?” — the same tune that kick-starts The Wall — whipped around the venue, eliciting screams from the audience. Waters adjusted the strap on his bass guitar and bounced up and down on the balls of his feet. The trim, 62-year-old rocker with a mane of gray hair flashed a smile, looking younger than his years in black slacks, shirt and a matching sport coat that he quickly shed. “So you, thought ya might like to go to the show?” he sang in fine voice. “To feel the warm thrill of confusion — that space cadet glow?”


One could feel the audience accepting the invitation. The Wagnerian opener was followed by another cut from The Wall, the coming-of-age saga “Mother.” Here Waters switched from bass to acoustic guitar and once again took lead vocals. While he asked such familiar yet timeless questions as “Mother, should I trust the government?” an enormous screen showed a young man alone in his messy bedroom with a radio, a whiskey bottle a pack of smokes and a notebook for his poems. The image could’ve been interpreted as a representation of Waters in his youth and probably a good percentage of the young men who have identified with his songs over the years.



The opening salvo was relentless. “Mother” faded into the early Floyd cult fave “Set the Control for the Heart of the Sun,” followed by a Wish You Were Here sampler that included the poignant title track, a spectacular “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” and “Have a Cigar.”


The tempo slowed and the audience was temporarily disengaged when Waters opted for the moodier material of The Final Cut. Before concluding the first set, the famed inflatable Pink Pig was unleashed (it got stuck, blocking a screen facing the lawn), and Waters introduced a new song titled “Leaving Beirut.” The tune features the lines “Oh George! Oh George! That Texas education must have fucked you up when you were very small,” and was accompanied by images of George W. juxtaposed with the likes of Saddam and Stalin. It was during this song that a man seated behind me with a fake tan and ripped muscles walked into the aisle about six rows from the stage and shot Waters the finger before being directed back to his seat by security.


Following a brief intermission, Waters and company performed, as promised, Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. And while the musicians took few liberties with the source material, there were moments when a certain guitar solo morphed into something distinct and original. The female vocal performance on “The Great Gig in the Sky” was a jaw dropper. Perhaps the biggest thrill of the Dark Side segment was the deep-space visuals that unfurled on screen, with lasers darting across the pavilion roof and a giant light prism floating down for the closing of “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse.”


Just in case anyone didn’t feel they got their money’s worth, Waters and band returned for a five-song encore, highlighted by a thumping rendition of “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2” that found him bounding across the stage and leading the audience in a decadent sing-along of “We don’t need no education.”


Finally, the hired hand responsible for guitar solos and vocals originated by David Gilmour sunk his teeth into “Comfortably Numb.” While the gauzy melody and escapist lyrics lulled the audience into a state of bliss, Waters mouthed the words he had written decades ago, beamed and made eye contact with those of us standing gratefully before him — both parties looking thoroughly pleased.

High-Tech Concert Stirs Political Waters

A great shot of the pyro in Tampa, Florida by Bob Reigle

The Tampa Tribune
Tampa FL
Ford Amphitheatre

TAMPA - Amazing how "The Dark Side of the Moon" can shine so bright.


Roger Waters, a seven-piece band and three backing singers brought Pink Floyd's iconic 1973 album to life before a sold-out crowd of 20,000 at the Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday night.


A surround-sound speaker system gave sometimes startling clarity to the album's sound effects, as did new technology. Jarring digital samples interrupted the familiar synthesizer sequence of "On the Run."


Visuals were as elaborate as the sonics, illustrating the songs with films or swirls of color that threatened to send the crowd off on a mass hallucination.


As much as the technology enhanced the performance, it was the musicians, taking just enough liberties to prevent the set from being a carbon copy, that made it work.


From the lead guitarist who hot-rodded Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's solos on "Money," to the singer who made "The Great Gig in the Sky" her own, Waters' band made the lack of a Pink Floyd reunion a non-issue, at least for the duration of the show.


In fact, the ancient V3 synthesizer used on "Dark Side" was among the keyboardists' arsenal; and the tick-tock of "Time" was Waters picking his muted bass strings.


Waters began the evening with a set heavy on Pink Floyd favorites. Kicking off with "In the Flesh" and "Mother" from "The Wall," the band slid into the dark psychedelia of "Set the Controls From the Heart of the Sun," the oldest song in the set. Film of the original Pink Floyd lineup, featuring Syd Barrett, gave the song an air of poignancy.


That song set up a trio of tunes from "Wish You Were Here," the 1975 Floyd album that mourned Barrett's descent into madness. The title track was nearly given over to the audience as a singalong.


If Waters meant to provoke a reaction with the final portion of the first set, he did. Waters attacked the Iraq War, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair explicitly in both his lyrics and in the visuals that accompanied the songs.


Many in the crowd cheered in agreement but many also were vocal in their disapproval. Choruses of lusty boos could be heard following "Leaving Beirut," and one man stood in the aisle angrily extending his middle finger toward Rogers.