I know I’ve shared this with you in the past, but I went to see Roger Waters four summers ago at the venue formerly known as Great Woods Center For The Performing Arts in Mansfield, MA.  The date was September 8, 2006.   It was the tour that Roger Waters was playing the entire Dark Side of The Moon LP in its entirety.   I actually went on a lark as two of my friends had made the concert a priority.  I had not.  September is usually the time when I start thinking about how much money I blew attending concerts all summer and start dialing it back.  In 2006, my friends Mark & Melanie were hell bent on attending this show so I got a single and tagged along.  I went onto the Ticketmaster site at 1 PM or so just in case they had released tickets.  I plugged in my requirement for a single and up came Section 1, Row F, Seat 3.  I figured I was about six rows back and pinned to the right wall.  If you’ve ever been to Great Woods you’d probably follow.  What I got was a front row seat on the aisle.  Sweet.

I wasn’t expecting a heckuva lot that night to be honest.  My friend Mark only goes to the most recognizable shows (The Who, ZZ Top, Rolling Stones, etc) and I sometimes blow them off.  Sometimes I’ve seen the act too many times.  In my case I have half a dozen acts I’ll skip unless a crowd from my circle is going.  Some bands I never miss, but those bands usually have new records to tour behind.   I get really tired, no matter how much I love the band (I’m talking to you Mick), of watching a great band play the exact same set list every time they tour.   They might play 25 songs and 20 of them are the so called “can’t leave ‘em out…somebody might be coming to see us for the very first time.”  Fair enough I suppose, but then I reserve the right to blow off shows where the price tag is $150-$450 and the set list is stagnant.  The Eagles come to mind.  I did go see them last summer, but the concert was FREE or I never would have gone.  I love Joe Walsh to death, but the Eagles catalogue can sometimes get a little stale in my opinion.  In fairness to that tour, which is always notoriously overpriced, Walsh, Henley and company all mixed in some of their solo hits.  I like that.  I can only take “Peaceful Easy Feeling” so many times and the expiration date surfaced in 1979 for me.

Where were we?  Oh yeah….George Roger Waters was born on this fine day, September 6th, in The Year of Our Lord 1943.  On the night in question I was just tagging along, as I said, but what I got, up close and personal, was a big old whale of a concert considering David Gilmour was nowhere in sight.   As a jaded concert goer from way, way back; I was impressed.   As a result, I’m scheduled to take in Roger Waters performing The Wall on October 1, 2010 and I’m looking forward to it.  I never did see Pink Floyd before The Feud broke out, but I did see Pink Floyd on the surprisingly good David Gilmour led Division Bell Tour on May 20, 1994 at Foxboro Stadium.   Stadium shows are generally just for the party.  You rarely actually see the artists unless you count the five inch figures grinding away on stage about forty yards from the action…no matter how good your seats are.   I really enjoyed my one and only Pink Floyd show.   If I could put myself in the Way Back machine I would go see a show during The Animals Tour, but I just didn’t get it done at 17.  Curses, foiled again…

I took in Roger Waters during the Radio KAOS Tour on Saturday August 22, 1987 at the aforementioned Great Woods venue.  That was highly entertaining.  My ticket says “comp” on it so maybe I scored a radio station freebie, probably my last, before my non radio career faded to black.  If so, it was a good way to go out.  Roger Waters apparently became insufferable by the early 80′s so far as David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason were concerned and was basically asked to leave the group he co-founded in 1965.  Pink Floyd began as a Psychedelic Rock band led by Crazy Diamond Syd Barrett from roughly 1965 to 1968.  Legend has it that Syd indulged in a few too many LSD trips and may have literally fried his talented brain in the process.  He had been credited with writing eight of the first 11 tracks Pink Floyd ever released on their 1967 LP Piper at The Gates of Dawn and co-wrote two more.   He was the dominant song writer in Pink Floyd until he fell apart.

It was Barrett who coined the band name (Pink Floyd was originally known as The Tea Set until they ran into another band with the same name) by fooling around with two American Blues Singers first names.  Pink Anderson and Floyd Council inadvertently contributed to one of the biggest brand names in Rock history.   Barrett, however, just couldn’t sustain as his mental health deteriorated.  David Gilmour, originally slated to become an additional member to mask the non performing Barrett, essentially wound up replacing him in 1968.  Syd Barrett, after releasing two 1970 solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett respectively, withdrew from the music business and went all Howard Hughes on us.  He finally passed away in 2006 due to complications from diabetes and pancreatic cancer after living many years in Cambridge out of the public eye.  It has been said that Gilmour made sure that Barrett received all the royalties he was due as the principal song writer in the early days.  Sadly, cancer also caught up with keyboardist Richard Wright in 2008 as well.  And Then There Were Three…

Pink Floyd took a few records to really gain some traction outside of the UK.  They had a seriously psychedelic and esoteric sound that sometimes wasn’t very conducive to commercial radio.  The first single “Arnold Layne” and Barrett’s masterpiece “See Emily Play” being the exceptions.   There were plenty of long jams; “A Saucerful of Secrets” and “Careful With That Axe Eugene” to name just a couple,  but while the critics loved them almost immediately, the record buying public was lagging behind.   Once Barrett was thrown clear, Pink Floyd took a while to find its bearings, before exploding in 1971-1979.  If they weren’t the biggest band in the world, they were in the discussion.  I can’t think of a better brand than Pink Floyd.  I’m not saying I inhaled, but anyone who did took an instant liking to the Pink Floyd sound.   They just flat out meshed when they released Dark Side of The Moon in 1973.  What a monster record. I’ll never forget, as a freshman at North Hunterdon Regional High School in 1975, a full two years after the record was released, listening to that record night and day.  I think I heard “Time” on the legendary New York Progressive Rock station WNEW-FM 102.7 (Where Rock Lives) and was just blown away.   Yes!  No wonder I enjoyed the 2006 Roger Waters show huh?  Let’s see, carry the one…that was no less than 33 years after it was released.  Forget about the charts and longevity and Classic Rock radio beating the living snot out of Dark Side; it’s still a masterpiece in my book.  Groundbreaking as all get out.  Wish You Were Here (1975)?  And Animals (1977)?  Fahgeddaboutit!

OK, I need to wrap thing up…The Wall was released in 1979 and took the world by storm.  No exaggeration whatsoever.  By this time Roger Waters had practically usurped all song writing authority much to the consternation of the remaining members of Pink Floyd.  Richard Wright had been forced out due to his perceived lack of contribution, though he did do that final tour for The Wall.   Money problems had hounded the band even after several great records in a row.  Bad investments and tax problems had them really depending on The Wall when it was released.   It’s been said that Waters’ ego essentially split the band.  As royalties were at least partially paid based on song writing credit, Waters was making more money than the others.  While they resented it, apparently it was his behaviour that did the band in.   Happily, three decades later, the remaining living Pink Floyd members are threatening to play together again.  Frankly, Roger Waters’ solo career was a bit of a dud.  I bought them all and while there is some great material on 1984′s The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, 1987′s Radio KAOS and 1992′s Amused To Death, none of them reached out of the ordinary sales numbers.  David Gilmour’s solo records; 1978′s David Gilmour, 1984′s About Face and 2006′s On An Island fared little better.  Pink Floyd, sans Roger Waters, was able to score fairly big with 1987′s Momentary Lapse of Reason and 1994′s Division Bell, but the parting of ways Roger Waters and David Gilmour staged way back when seems a real shame today.  Here’s hoping they can put their differences aside and wow us one more time.   Happy birthday to Roger Waters.  See you next month…

Roger Waters – 5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking).mp3

Roger Waters – Radio Waves.mp3

Roger Waters – What God Wants – Part I.mp3

Buy or Download Flickering Flame: The Solo Years from Amazon here.