Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
May 4, 2008
Better than: Getting an extra nickel in your dimebag
Download: Dark Side of the…wait, surely you already have this, right???
As only one of four U.S. dates and the last stop on the tour (perhaps to make up for the rained-out Rice Stadium gig years ago?), the Houston classic rock audience responded by rewarding the former Pink Floyd singer/bassist with a sold out show. I’d never seen the lawn so packed before, proving that sometimes a band’s catalogue of material is so strong that it can overcome any hesitancies about who is actually playing it.
For the show’s first half, Waters and his extensive, polished-to-a-sheen ensemble (including late-model Thin Lizzy guitarist Snowy White) offered up a heaping helping of Floyd warhorses (“Have a Cigar,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Mother,” “Wish You Were Here”), rarities (“The Fletcher Memorial Home”) and solo material (“Perfect Sense-Pt. 1” from Amused to Death).
But the best moments came at unexpected times. The heavily trippy early Floyd track “Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun” was a mindbending blowout, complete with projected footage of the then-young band frolicking on a beach (ah, Syd, so young and vibrant…).
And while many made an automatic sprint for the restrooms after Waters announced “and here’s a newish song,” those who were pissing during “Leaving Beirut” missed a gem. Based on a personal, positive experience he had with a family in Lebanon as a young man, and infused with Waters’s pointed political commentary, it was his most impassioned performance of the night. A projected comic book on the back screen guided the audience through the story line, and the anti-Bush line “Oh George/That Texas education/Must have fucked you up/When you were small,” coupled with the refrain “Don’t let the might/of the Christian right/Fuck it up for you/And the rest of the world” seemed to draw about equal boos as cheers.
And yes, the pig did fly during first set closer “Sheep” (with “Impeach Bush” written on its pink ass). The inflatable was cut away to seemingly float off into the night, and one can only wonder who is waking up this morning with a large deflated porker in their front yard.
The second half (and selling point) of the show was a stoner’s delight with Waters and band playing through Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, complete with light show and special effects. As the songs are so iconic – “Time” “Money,” “Us and Them,” “Brain Damage,” the show ceased to be a regular concert and instead became a collective experience for the crowd as each well-memorized number flowed into the next.
For his part Waters – turning over the David Gilmour-sung parts to his ably acquitting guitarist and keyboard players – sort of gladly became a backdrop for his own show. But while his voice has lost some of that trademark top screaming, maniacal edge, he was clearly enthralled with the extremely receptive audience.
Waters encored with a powerful triple attack of the now very-relevant “Vera/Bring the Boys Back Home” along with “Another Brick in the Wall-Pt. 2” and the monster “Comfortably Numb,” sending the audience into a blissful frenzy as thousands proclaimed their disdain of the educational system and air guitared one of classic rock’s most famous solos.
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All in all, Roger Waters put on a powerful show full of plenty of meat (with a side of pudding). Alas! If only Mssrs. Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright would put aside their differences for one last jaunt! That seems more and more unlikely to ever happen, but this show was the very next best thing.
Personal bias: I know who Pink Anderson and Floyd Council are.
Random detail: Overheard at the urinal from an angry, but to-the-nines stereotypically dressed frat boy, complete with a backwards white baseball cap: “Dude, I didn’t think he was going to get so fucking political! That’s not cool!”
By the way: You never know when the past will catch up with you. Sitting right behind me was someone I had not seen in many years - Chrystal Heath, aka Shirley Shiver, formerly of local new wave band the Shivers, who we wrote about in 1999 as the band was moving to Austin. She's moved back to Galveston and beginning to step back into music, but don't look for any reunion for the group. "There was a lot of Fleetwood Mac style things going on," she said about the band's interpersonal relationships. And she's probably not talking about the questionable use of lace shawls. – Bob Ruggiero