Good old eBay was kind enough to deliver me a last minute Roger Waters ticket for his Seattle gig, the last one of a major North American tour. The show had been sold out for months, so I was somewhat delighted to be there, soaking up the atmosphere of the huge crowd in the Key Arena bar.
I knew from internet reviews that 8.20pm was the time the band would come out. I’d wandered in to the arena earlier to see the huge back projection of a 1950s style radio, an increasingly full ash tray, a slowly diminishing bottle of whiskey and occasional bellowing smoke from a mysterious smoker/drinker, whose arm was all that was glimsingly seen.
Kept company by a fine Pyramid Snow Cap Ale, I spied a TV screen advertising Al Gore as the next big event at the Arena. I must confess I struggled with reconciling the likely performance of a formerly incredibly dull politician’s with the show I was anticipating by the major influence behind Pink Floyd. Politically, Waters makes Gore look like Bill O’Reilly, and fortunately, the differences didn’t end there.
In a nutshell, the first hour was a mix of Floyd and Waters songs taken from the whole catalog of their material. The second half was "Dark Side of The Moon’ in its entirety, enhanced by booming quadrophonic speakers distributed throughout the arena. The encores were basically side three of The Wall, for those of you who remember the vinyl, ending with "Comfortably Numb".
The highlights were too numerous for me to recall. But some that remain are:
- The saxophone solo on ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’. After poignant images of a young Sid Barrett, the sax player was projected against an image resembling a brain cortex, that slowly decayed to a simple universe of shooting stars in the sky. It sent chills down my spine.
- The ‘Great Gig in the Sky’, reproduced faithfully by P.P. Arnold’s amazing voice.
- The propeller controlled, grafitti-ized, large pink pig that floated around the arena during a magnificent rendition of "Sheep". ‘Vote Nov 7th’ was one of its slogans, and I don’t think anyone there wondered who they were being implored to vote for.
- The video projection of a nuclear submarine attack during "Perfect Sense". The footage zooms in from above on to a huge sports stadium, with a water tank in the middle. A submarine lurks at one end, and oil rig at the other. The sub fires two missiles, and as they hit the target, a huge fireball ignites on the stage, as the band pound out ‘Can’t you see, it all makes perfect sense …". It was an incredibly powerful and visually spectacular moment.
There were flames and explosions all the way thru the show, a veritable internal firework display. Many savvy locals exploited the resulting smokiness to take the opportunity to share second hand spliff smoke with the passive smokers around them. You can’t take beer into the arena, but spliffs were rampant. All very amusing.
It’s Saturday morning now, and the songs and images from the gig are still floating around my head. It was that sort of show.