Photo by Marlin Levison , Star Tribune
Roger Waters played in concert at Excel Energy Center Saturday in St. Paul.
June 30th 2007
USA Saint Paul MN
By Chris Riemenschneider:
The Pink Floyd frontman played all of his best-known music and lots more.
"Is it hazy in here, or is it just me?"?
That comment, or some variation of it, could be overheard repeatedly as 15,000-plus fans filed into St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center on Saturday for a concert by ex-Pink Floyd frontman and psychedelic-rock pioneer Roger Waters -- for which the fog machines were turned on early and pumping strong all night long.
For all its Oz-like visual gimmickry and stage props -- including the Floyd's trademark flying pig -- Waters' first local show in seven years was wall-solid musically and even carried a clear, current message.
One of the two bass-playing British rock legends hitting the X this summer (Sting is there Tuesday with the Police), Waters brought along a masterful 11-piece band as leverage to reclaim the best-known material by his old band. The centerpiece was the 1973 landmark album, "Dark Side of the Moon," played in its entirety at earth-shaking volume. But that was really just the beginning.
Clocking in at well over two hours (not counting a short intermission), the concert was book-ended by tunes from Pink Floyd's second-most-revered masterpiece, "The Wall," starting with the perfect opener "In the Flesh" ("So ya thought ya might like to go to the show"). The crowd cheered the line, "Should I trust the government," during "Mother," which kicked off a long montage of antiwar songs in the first half.
Waters was clearly out to make his music relevant to today. It didn't work as well with 1968's fuzzy "Set the Controls for the Sun," but it did with the "Wish You Were Here" material -- unspokenly played for recently deceased Floyd cofounder Syd Barrett.
Even more relevant were the World War II-related songs off the last proper Floyd album, "The Final Cut." Waters didn't mince his message when he flashed President Bush's and Karl Rove's photos on the big screen during the war-scarred "Fletcher Memorial Home," and he took another overt swipe at George and the Christian right in the new song "Leaving Beirut."
As the familiar strains of the "Dark Side" album opened up the second half, the energy rivaled the fireworks going off on nearby Harriet Island.
The record actually isn't an easy one for Waters to pull off -- the other Floyd members did much of the singing on it -- but he had reliable help. Keyboardist Andy Fairweather-Low (a renowned sideman) and young guitarist Dave Kilminster filled in on vocals in "Us & Them" and "Money," and a trio of female singers brought the "Moon" to its many climaxes, including longtime Waters cohort Katie Kissoon.
Waters himself seemed more invested in the non-"Moon" material, including the encore offerings "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2" and "Bring the Boys Back Home." The title of the latter tune alone probably tells you where Waters' heart is on this tour.