2007 June 24th
By Glenn Usher:
I have been a fan of Roger Waters while he was still in Pink Floyd so when they broke up I felt my chances of ever seeing him live in Canada were nil.
So when I found out he was coming to Edmonton with a line-up of great musicians I made sure my two older sons got seats as well. This was their first concert and I think the bar may have been set too high for their future concert going experience.
I have been going to concerts for almost 30 years and I thought I had seen it all, but Roger and the band re-defined the concert experience to me.
After Pink changed the giant radio’s dial a few times the lights went out and Roger walked out. With a play by play announcer in the background Roger yelled the intro from Waiting for the Worms and then the band burst into In the Flesh. The hammers had returned and the crowd went wild. Roger had two large screens on either side of the stage that showed off the people he was picking out of the crowd. “There’s one smoking a joint” as the camera jumped to the guy a few rows in front of me who was really smoking a joint.
We felt teleported into the experience as they music went on. The song ended with some fireworks and everything went dark.
Then Roger started Mother as quickly as it starts on The Wall. His choice of a female lead in mother seemed odd at first since I was so use to Gilmour’s voice in that part, but after a short time it seemed to fit as a mothers voice should.
Set the Controls was the next song and the backdrop burned away as we were taken back to the psychedelic past.
Next up was Shine On and Snowy White stepped into the spotlight to lead us into that great song. Next up was Have a Cigar. I always wanted to hear Roger sing this song live and I was not disappointed. The song ended just as it did on the album with everything going quiet and the focus was shifted to the giant radio behind the stage.
A few dial changes and we were at Wish You Were Here which was a highlight for this crowd.
They all started singing and the lighters were everywhere. The crowd grew a little lost over the next few numbers Southampton Dock, The Fletcher Memorial Home, and Perfect Sense, Parts 1 and 2, but P.P. Arnold woke them back up with her amazing voice. It was a real pleasure to see her live.
After a massive explosion that we could all feel the heat from Roger took some time to talk to us and introduce Leaving Beirut. A great song to see live. The talking parts of the song were played out with comic pages on the screen and all the lyrics were displayed so everyone could still sing along. The final song of the set was Sheep and they saved the best for last. It was almost overwhelming by the time the pig was released into the air. A very surreal experience for me and the band really made the song come alive.
Roger took a 15 minute break and promised to return for the Dark Side of the Moon.
The 2nd set was the Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety and I would really have trouble putting the experience into words. It something that must be seen live in ones lifetime.
Some major highlights were Roger’s bass playing (Money and Time), Graham Broad playing his life out for the intro of Time, Jon Carin’s amazing keyboard and vocal work and Carol Kenyon stopping the show with The Great Gig in the Sky.
To my surprise On the Run was one of the best numbers played. It seemed as if Roger let the entire band re-interpret the entire Album and it sounded better than it ever has to me. There’s something to be said for letting musicians this good have their way. After it was over they left us all standing in awe of what just transpired before us. No one would sit down or be quiet until we got more and so Roger and the band returned.
Roger thanked us all and introduced his entire band. Then you could hear the helicopter noise….”You! Yes you! Stand still laddie!” and so our encore began.
Everyone in the house knew the lyrics to what was coming next and I don’t think I ever had so much fun singing “we don’t need no thought control”. Roger extended the song so the crowd could enjoy it a little longer.
Bring the Boys back home was another great highlight with the war explosions and tribute to getting our boys home safely. Finally after a familiar “is there anybody out there” Comfortably Numb started. I always hoped that someday Roger would let Jon Carin do the Gilmour part and finally he did. It was the perfect end to an incredible evening.
I was always a little frustrated that I never saw Roger with Floyd, but now I am not. This is what I really needed to see. This was not the angry Roger of the Pink Floyd days. Throughout the entire show he was smiling, energetic and really working the crowd well. His singing was excellent and he seemed more alive than ever. His choice of artists to accompany him was excellent as well.
Many people will now want to check out P.P. Arnold, Jon Carin, Snowy White, Carol Kenyon, Andy Fairweather-Low and the rest of this line-up. I’ve seen recordings of old Floyd shows and Rogers’s solo videos but after this event I think we just may have seen Roger at his best.