Winnipeg Free Press's Roer Water concert review
Roger Waters puts on a 5-star performance
June 28th, 2007
June 27, 2007
out of 5 stars
Shot at 2007-06-30
The amount of power emitted at a Roger Waters concert just might be enough to light the dark side of the moon itself.
The pyrotechnics, light show and visual effects are just part of the equation though. The stellar production would be nothing without the sheer magnitude and weight of the music - harness the combination and you could probably illuminate the most remote planet.
That’s how it seemed last night when the former Pink Floyd frontman brought his Dark Side of the Moon world tour to the MTS Centre for a crowd of 11,000 enthralled fans who packed the arena to worship at the altar of the psychedelic pioneer and “feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow” (to quote the man himself).
Waters divided the spectacle into three parts, the first consisting of a cross-section of the Pink Floyd catalogue and some of his solo material, the second featuring the 1973 Dark Side of the Moon album in its entirety, and an encore filled with classics from The Wall.
The stage was on the south end of the rink but sound gear stretched three-quarters of the way across the arena catwalks providing a surround sound experience. It was an example of music as theatre with video narratives enhancing the force of the lyrical subject matter.
ImageThe unassuming frontman and his 10-piece band, including three guitarists to play David Gilmour’s parts, took the stage to the throbbing chords of In the Flesh as Waters barked out the words. The song occurs at the moment in The Wall when the deluded protagonist Pink believes he is leading his own Nazi-esque army, so it was quite surreal to witness everyone singing along, pounding their fists in the air and playing air guitar (this writer included) as though we were part of his master plan.
From there, the first set was a 70-minute roller coaster of emotions, soundscapes, anthems and pointed politicals. The self-questioning ballad Mother had some in the audience singing along while the oldest song in the set, 1968’s Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, evolved into a spacey jam complete with psychedelic graphics on a large screen behind the stage and black and white images of the members of Floyd in their younger days.
Former frontman Syd Barrett received a fitting tribute during the dynamic Shine on You Crazy Diamond and the ballad Wish You Were Here, one of the most beautiful and sentimental songs in the Pink Floyd canon.
Waters is not the flashiest frontman but became the most animated during the two tracks from The Final Cut (Southampton Dock and The Fletcher Memorial Home) and two solo songs, including the new Leaving Beirut about his time hitchhiking through Lebanon as a 17-year-old and being taken in by a poor couple. The song’s lyrics and story about unconditional kindness were projected behind the stage in a series of comic book frames. He sang the song without an instrument and walked back and forth on the stage making a series of hand motions to get his points across. It was obvious the experience shaped his humanist view of the world.
Set one climaxed with the driving Sheep, a classic from the Animals album about rising up against oppression. In the middle of the 10-minute rallying cry an inflatable pig flew over the crowd covered in slogans like “Fear builds walls” and “All religions divide” while the video shoot for the album cover at Battersea Power Station played in the background.
After a 15-minute break Waters returned and performed Dark Side of the Moon, in order. The landmark album was a multi-media experience with graphics depicting the greed behind Money, an oasis of people during Us and Them and pills floating in front of the moon for the climax Brain Damage/Eclipse. A rainbow of lasers shot through a three dimensional triangle above the stage providing a larger than life version of the iconic album cover.
“Canadian audiences are the best we’ve ever played to,” a sincere sounding Waters said before the encore, a selection of favourites from The Wall including Another Brick in the Wall Part II which had the crowd shouting “We don’t need no education!”, Vera and the evening’s final number, Comfortably Numb, the tale of a drug-casualty illustrated on screen by a reoccurring character who was featured in several clips throughout the night fiddling with a radio, smoking and drinking.
The explosions that marked the conclusion were both thrilling and disappointing: even though the concert extended to nearly three hours fans were left wanting more and would have stayed as long as Waters played. The true sign of an amazing show.