Have a Cigar...

"Come in dear boy, have a cigar, you're gonna go far... fly high,"

And how they flew (and not just from the aura of weed hanging over the stadium). Redefining the Stadium Spectacular is what the ads call the Pink Floyd 1994 tour and that's exactly what Gilmour and company did by taking us on a unparalleled trip in a show that put the Fourth of July fireworks to shame.

"You're never gonna die you're gonna make it if you try they're gonna love you."

And the crowd, exuberant in their approval, enthused over every minute of the dazzling pyrotechnics, the mesmerising light show with the famous gold lasers (reportedly having atom-splitting capabilities), the rotating globe spewing light on the crowd, and of course, the two pigs that swayed ominously during One of these Days. The music was definitely secondary to the show, even though the sound quality was by far the best I have heard, except for the times when the bass was a little too loud.

"Well, I've always had a deep respect and I mean that most sincerely."

In this season, where there seem to be a whole slew of long-considered-dead 70s acts spasming their way back, Pink Floyd stands out as an example of how such a comeback should be done with finesse. The stadium shows have essentially sold out, and this is without an opening band, whereas most other bands seem to need a opening band that is popular in its own right in order to attract a greater crowd.

"The band is just fantastic, that is what I really think and by the way, which one's Pink?"

The absence of founding member Roger Waters was not going to influence the greatness of this show, and this was evident from the beginning strains of Astronomy Domine. A good portion of the crowd (at least around me) didn't follow the song, of course, but I think this was the best song off of the setlist---not in its own right, but for its performance live, given that Gilmour wasn't even in the band when this song was originally recorded in 1967.

"And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it Riding the Gravy Train."

If you do a bit of simple arithmetic, you'll notice that Pink Floyd have learnt to play this game very well. I assume this show netted about $2 million. Plus the fact that they base their attraction not just on the music means that people have to repeat this experience in order to get the complete effect of the show. I could goto this show for a week and sit in different locations of the stadium in order to get the full effect. It's really tempting to go back again today.

"We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out."

Unfortunately, they did not play Have a Cigar, which is a great song and would've fit the occasion perfectly. But they did play a lot of stuff from their new album, and almost all of Dark Side of the Moon (save for Brain Damage and Eclipse) which pleased me to no end! The second half was clearly the better one---I yawned less. All the songs were played quite well, with a lot of variation from the studio releases introduced by the saxophonist. I thought The Great Gig in the Sky was a bit too long. Gilmour's guitar playing was incredible (of course) and he did improvise a bit now and then.

"You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count."

I earlier said that Waters isn't missed much. But why should he matter now? He was a great lyricist and conceptualist, but once the lyrics have been written and the ideas borne out, he is expendable and Gilmour, Mason, and Wright have proven this to be very true given. Of course, the new album seems less powerful than some of older Pink Floyd because of Waters' absence, but Gilmour and the others have shown that they can take re-create the Pink Floyd style well enough so The Division Bell debuted reached #1 on the charts. By going out in concert without Waters, Gilmour has also shown that Waters, musically speaking, wasn't the end-all and be-all of what makes Pink Floyd. In an interview, Gilmour is reputed to have said that they are partly still in business to show that musically they are not very less-off due to Waters' absence. And he has certainly accomplished this with great flavour!

"Everybody else is just green, have you seen the chart?"

People have criticised Gilmour and others for being unresponsive during the show and not being very talkative. But that would be very contrary to the Pink Floyd image: it would be rather incongruous if Gilmour joked about the weather and did Run like Hell or about the possibility of them touring again next year and doing High Hopes (funny though it would be). I think it is very admirable, in and of itself, that that Pink Floyd maintains the rigoruous schedule they do, touring almost every other day and this almost manic obsession for playing as though every note matters in order to keep the world from self-destructing (it doesn't, but bands like these are also essential) is an experience to watch. This is where you can tell whether the band is getting into the music or treating it like a job.

"It's a helluva start, it could be made into a monster if we all pull together as a team."

The thing that got me thinking after seeing such a spectacular show (I have seen no other concert like this) is to consider whether any band has ever equalled Pink Floyd's extravagance or whether any band that we know of currently can accomplish this a few years from now. The prospects of this seem a bit bleak with the downfall (for whatever reasons) of the Gloved One.

"And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it Riding the Gravy Train."

Whether you like Pink Floyd's music, in the end, is a bit irrelevant here. You can goto this show purely for the psychedelics (and I mean the pretty lights and stuff---not any substance) and enjoy it thorougly! Forget what I said earlier about Primus or They Might be Giants or Ween or whoever! Pink Floyd stands out in a class of its own and a concert by them is The Definitive Music Experience.

Music ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org || July 9, 1994