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From REG # 7

Hells Bells   or   Wish Roger Were Here

A Concert Review of the Floyd's "Division Bell" Tour 94

A momentary lapse of reason is all I can attribute to my having waited in line for 4 hours in the freezing cold one early February morning to buy Pink Floyd tickets for their 94 tour.

I just sat down after having gotten back from the "Pink Floyd" Concert at the Oakland Coliseum in California. So I thought I would jot down my thoughts of it while it was still fresh in my mind.

Having just about walked out of the show when I had attended their 1987 tour, I was a little skeptical whether or not I was going to enjoy this "Pink Floyd" concert. But the new album "The Division Bell," sounds much more like Floyd of old, for the most part because of the inclusion and major participation of Rick Wright. After hearing the new album, it surprised me how much of a difference Rick has made to the sound of the band, and has also made me recognize and appreciate more-so the extremely significant contribution that Rick made to the sound of the band in the past. Instrumentally, his keyboards, and Dave's guitar are the Pink Floyd sound. Therefore their new album "The Division Bell" many times and in many ways sound like old Pink Floyd. But as far as the song writing goes, it is very clear for anyone to see how badly these three Floyd musicians need the direction and the musical and lyrical creativity of Roger Waters for "The Division Bell" to truly be a Pink Floyd Album. As someone in the Waters camp put it, "It sounds like a bunch of pop tunes all strung together with no meaning."

So I went to the show with a wary trepidation. However, overall the show was - satisfactory, at least as a spectacle. I almost really enjoyed the first half, and would have come away from the show with a positive commentary were it not for the second half.

Being at this concert was like going to a huge planetarium, where 60,000 fans had gathered to watch a laser light show, and listen to Pink Floyds songs. From where most people sat, no one could see any of the band members on stage very well, at least not without binoculars. In fact there were several booths around the stadium where binoculars could be rented. To me the musicians looked as if they were 1/8 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch tall. So much for watching a concert with real live musicians playing real live music. Instead you watched a light show and listened to the music barely making out the tiny stick figures on a distant stage moving around to the music. Roger was more than right when he vowed that Pink Floyd, at least under his leadership, would not ever play stadium shows again. The music becomes fodder and the meaning escapes the audience, there is no connection between the band and the audience, as if a 'Wall' exists between 'Us and Them.'

Floyd began with "Astronomy Domine," probably the first time this song has been played live since 1972. It was well done, and even had background lighting effects of a '60s psychedelic oil light show, which was befitting. However I immediately felt that it was a bit ironic that Pink Floyd, as a new band with Dave Gilmour now at the helm, struggling and striving for an identity of their own, away from the Pink Floyd of Roger Waters, would play a song that was written and sung by Syd Barrett, before Dave was even a member of the band.

Next they played "Learning To Fly". This sounded exactly the same as it did on the last tour, but it was done well, and was a good opener. It gave the feeling of a new Floyd come into it's own. The lighting and special effects were similar to those of the last tour seven years ago.

Then they played "What Do You Want From Me" off their new album, again played well, and again a nice touch of a new Floyd with new material. The special effects were becoming more spectacular with each song.

Next they played "Poles Apart," from their new album, and my favorite song from either of their two albums. In fact, in my opinion, this song is so very good, Roger could have written it. It is really fantastic, and could very well have fit on "The Wall," or "Wish You Were Here." A true Pink Floyd song. Good going David, didn't know you had it in you. I was truly enjoying the show now, even though I was freezing and the smell of marijuana wafted from every direction.

When passing out leaflets for our fanclub before the concert, it struck me how incredibly young this crowd was. Near 70% were under the age of 25, barely out of diapers when "The Wall" was first played. Consequently, more than half of the concert go'ers did not know who Roger Waters is, or what part he played in Pink Floyd, i.e.. founding the band, and creating all their favorite songs. The extreme amount of drugs and alcohol everywhere was very depressing, as I no longer partake in either. But who am I to talk, who saw Floyd in '72 & '75 high on LSD.

Floyd then played "Sorrow," "Take It Back," and "Keep Talking," all of which I enjoyed as the music of a new Floyd. The next song that they played was "One Of These Days," which was the only song, other than Astronomy Domine, that they played that I really felt like I was seeing Pink Floyd in Concert. However Roger's screeching and banging his gong during the song was sorely missed.

Then after the intermission, again combined with a myriad of lighting and special effects, they played "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-3, 5)," "Breathe," "Time," "Breathe Reprise," "High Hopes," "The Great Gig In The Sky," "One Slip," "Us & Them," "Wish You Were Here," "Money," "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)," and "Comfortably Numb" where the huge mirrored sphere was raised from a covered platform on the field behind the mixing board at the back of the crowd. Spot lights reflected millions of tiny squares of light throughout the stadium. All these songs were great to hear, and they almost played all of "Dark Side of the Moon," but they might as well have been playing a recording with a light show for the similarities and lack of diversion from the songs on the albums. Throughout the show it seemed the crowd cheered the special effects much more than the music. It was as if the spectacle was all that concerned them (besides their drugs and/or alcohol) and the music and lyrics seemed meaningless.

The few differences were very obvious, one imparticularly. During "Another Brick in the Wall (Pt. 2)," you heard the intro. of the helicopter rotor blades. I then waited to see who was going to shout "You, yes You, Stand still laddie," knowing full well that they couldn't possibly match Rogers voice. I was not surprised (or was I), when no shouting was heard. But not only that, but where Roger sings; "When we were young and went to school, there were certain teachers.....", no one sang these words either. In fact the song was instrumental up to the lyrics "We don't need no education...". It was as if half the song was missing, or that the microphones had gone out or something. Weird!! And because all these songs lacked Roger's harmonies, they mostly fell short. It was as if Dave Gilmour was playing them at a solo tour concert. Definitely not Pink Floyd!

Floyd did an encore of "Hey You" and "Run Like Hell". "Hey You" sounded very hollow without Roger's vocals, and "Run Like Hell" (a Gilmour standard) lacked any real punch that you would expect from a finale.

Though Pink Floyd are supposedly trying to prove to the world that they can make great music and be a great band without Roger Waters, it remains that it's their greatest hit's, Rogers songs, that the audience wanted to hear. And if the band is Pink Floyd and not a David Gilmour solo band, than it's funny why throughout the show, David Gilmour was almost constantly spotlighted, and rarely was either Rick Wright, or Nick Mason, or in fact any of the other many musicians on stage. In fact the stage lighting was so bad most all the musicians were in shadow most of the time, and even with binoculars it was very hard to make them out.

All in all, the laser show was spectacular, if you like Hollywood type glamour and glitter gone out of control. Though, the lasers and special effects were not that different from the last tour in 1987, except for the twin half pigs which inflated from towers on both sides of the stage. And during this show one of them fell to the ground toward the end. (One victory Roger won in his legal battles with David, was the rights to the inflatable pig and pig trademark. In fact, even though David tried to get around this by changing the pigs sex and using it during the '87 tour, it was ruled an infringement of copyright which Roger owned, and David had to give Roger credit at the end of the DSOT video and pay him royalties for having used it.) At least during the '87, tour you could see the band on stage unaided. The sound however was very loud and the most spectacular. The Quadraphonic sound was unbelievably fantastic. It is amazing how they were able to obtain quad sound in an open air stadium arena. Mostly, the second half was a "Pink Floyd greatest hits" show, and most of the songs written or co-written by Roger to boot.

So it was that, having enjoyed the "New Pink Floyd" in the first half, the second half, except for the fireworks like laser light show, was musically boring and ho hum. I'm sure that a majority of those at the concert were enjoying the second half much more than the first, probably having gone to the concert specifically to hear their old favorites played live. But in this fans humble opinion, having seen the real Pink Floyd several times in the 70's, the real Pink Floyd is dead without Roger in the band, and the new Pink Floyd should strive to make a reputation for themselves with their own, new music, instead of relying on, and being carried on the monetary back of a Pink Floyd whose music was created by someone who is no longer a part of the band.

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