2007 May 24th
E. Rutherford NJ
Continental Airlines Arena
By Ames Friedman:
Roger Waters? Yes, that's right, Roger Waters. How could I possibly pass up a second chance to see one of the most important voices of a generation in music, considering I'd passed up seeing him last year? I mean, hell, I grew up listening to my Mom's Dark Side of the Moon record. And I never, ever thought I'd have a chance to see the man who wrote that music, live.
Now I can happily report that it was well worth the ticket price and ridiculous effort of getting from the city out to the Meadowlands in Jersey. Effort, schmeffort! This is Roger Waters, man. And he's playing Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety! 1 ticket, please...
He opened with some of my most favorite Floyd tunes from The Wall, Animals, and all. Wish You Were Here sent chills down my spine, despite the fact that Dave Gilmour's part was performed by an anonymous touring band member.
Actually, the only disappointing thing about this concert was the obvious lack of David Gilmour. And what can anybody do about that? I liked that Waters went ahead and played the songs that he wrote, whether or not he was the one to sing them. It's making the best out of a bad situation, and laying claim to the songs he penned. They're his songs, why shouldn't he play them?
Ok, so theoretically, I agree with that. But in practice, it was a little unsettling watching the backing band stepping up to fill the shoes of a palpably absent presence. I wanted it to be Dave Gilmour singing, not a sound-alike, no matter how good he was at sounding alike. Meanwhile, I have to give kudos to the guitarist, who did an admirable job with Gilmour's melodically iconic solos. He wasn't just trying to sound like Gilmour. He sounded exactly like Gilmour. Most impressive. So I guess the takeaway was this: If you can't have the man there in the flesh, at least have his ghost.
There's really nothing like Roger Waters' voice. I mean, you recognize it the minute you hear it. It's not a beautiful voice, but man, has it got character. It is the voice of a storyteller. And a teller of tales whose heros are often tortured, self-destructive, injured, emotionally stunted, and practically Shakespearean, while they help Waters work out his personal issues and convey his political beliefs.
He is the tortured artist genius, who uses his medium as a platform. And that's at the core of what has always helped turn many of his detractors against him in the first place. Surprisingly, there were folks in the crowd who actually boo'ed his politically outspoken moments. But did he back down? No! And did the folks booing wish they could get their money back? I doubt it. No really, I do. Because Waters is a founding father of the generation that embraced dissent and political criticism as a birthright. So they may boo the sentiment, but who among this crowd would eschew his right to freedom of speech and expression? I could be misjudging the crowd, but I doubt it.
Not only was Waters in classic Watersian form, but so were the visuals that accompanied the music. It was psychedelic Floyd to a tee, providing even those of us in the audience who weren't stoned with a contact high, sweeping us up in the music that spawned so many laser light shows in planetaria across the country. Though the pyrotechnics seemed like an outmoded concept, the lasers and derigibles that flew from the roof remained totally fresh, while still retaining their iconic reference to the past.
Derigibles? Well, floating helium baloons of impressive scale. You've seen the album covers, you've seen the movies, andnow you've seen the baloons:
Looking back at the show, and at this recap, one word comes to mind more than any other: "iconic." I'm sorry if I've rendered it redundant, but that's exactly what Roger Waters and his music are. There's no better word to describe the night.