Thursday, May 08, 2008

Big Fun in The Woodlands.

As you know, Denise and I drove down to The Woodlands, a nice suburb north of Houston, to see Roger Waters in Concert last Sunday. Ol' Myron had clued us in to a great little Mexican food place there called Los Cucos, and we were determined to try it out.

Also, another blogger buddy or ours, Jerry Wiley, had emailed me last week that he was in Houston briefly and wanted to hook up. So I emailed him back and we made plans to meet at the restaurant before the concert and check it out. It turned out to be wonderful. Kudos to Myron for hookin' us up. Good work my buddy.

After the feed we took a picture ('cause ya gotta) and then Denise and I headed out for the concert. We found a great parking place in a garage about a block or so away and walked with the other teaming throngs of concert goers to the pavilion.

Cameras being forbidden in the venue, I was worried that the pavilion folks would grab mine as I went through security. It's not quite as small and hideable as I'd like it to be. It turned out though they were really more worried about guns. They checked all the ladies purses and had everyone lift their pant legs and do a spin around to see if they had anything tucked in their belt. We both walked right in without any problems and went directly for our seats, forgoing drinks, having just stuffed our guts with Mexican food, a few beers and a few Strawberry Margaritas. I didn't get up and get drinks till the mid-concert break before they performed "Dark Side".

Our seats were wonderful, easily some of the best seats I've ever had at a concert. As I said in a previous post, I'd sat here and watched a year ago as Mushy and his Buds attended this same concert in Atlanta on an earlier leg of this tour. I'd been really tempted to drive over there and see it, knowing that Waters wasn't coming to Texas in 2007. So when I heard he was coming and the chance came to see the show I was determined to be right up close. Money was an object, but not much of one. You only live once. I paid $558 for two seats on the 16th row center, under the cover of the pavilion. Denise flipped her lid when I told her how much I'd payed for the tickets, knowing as she does how deep in debt I am, but after the show, as we walked in the afterglow of the spectacle, I asked her if the price was worth it. She smiled up at me and said it was. There was no question in my mind. It was worth every penny.

When we got to our seats I recognized the picture that was being shown on the screen behind the stage. I'd spent a good while a year earlier looking at the pictures Mushy'd taken in Atlanta and posted on FlickR, and I'd read his review of the concert at his blog and at the fan site that posted his shots and review. I knew that the concert would begin when a hand came into the picture to turn the radio dial.

Sure enough, we all noticed when the fog machines began to bellow and cigarette smoke began wafting up in front of the radio. Then the hand reached up, turned the dial and grabbed the glass of booze that sat in front of the radio. Denise began to tear up as the radio played an old song from WW2, We'll Meet Again, by Vera Lynn. Then the hand moved in again and we rocked to Elvis singing Hound Dog. When that ended an old ABBA tune began and people in the audience around me started yelling "Oh God, change the fucking channel", and sure enough, the hand came up and changed the channel to another station. I recognised the tune, another war time ballad, but can't remember the name of the guy who sang it.

Then, as the lights dimmed, Waters and his band walked out from behind the stage and the crowd erupted in cheers. The show began, and it would be at least an hour and a half before they took a break and Waters talked to the audience. They played lots of old Pink Floyd hits, mixing in tunes from albums like Ummagumma, Animals, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, and The Final Cut.

The visual effects were astounding, including this effect, which appeared at the climax of "Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun". The screen behind the band burned horizontally like a fuse down to the floor. I think it was the most astounding thing I've ever seen in a concert.

The screen behind the band played a constant mix of images, like the clocks ticking as Waters played that sound on his bass guitar during the performance of "Time".

The concert was visually stunning. A feast for the eyes as well as the ears. The band Waters put together played the old Floyd tunes expertly and left me exhausted and overjoyed. Like so many joyful experiences, this concert seemed to go bay way too fast. Dark Side of the Moon went by particularly fast, as we all sang the lyrics along with the performers and stood in wonder at the visual stimulation zooming past our eyes. When this satellite gizmo dropped down and began to beam laser light into the crowd, eventually taking the shape of the prism from the old album cover, the crowd went nuts.

Waters and his band definitely put on a wonderful show. There's no question about it. It was one of the best concert experiences I've ever had, hands down. Thing is, if you'd told me back in the mid '80s, when Pink Floyd split up, that I'd be payin' this much to see Roger Waters and enjoyin' it all so much I would have laughed at ya.

When he decided to quit the band after about 20 years and that the other guys couldn't use the name since he was no longer gonna be in the band, I lost a lot of respect for him. It was as if one kid decided the other kids couldn't play ball any more because he felt he owned the ball. Of course, I didn't want the band to split, loving the music, so I naturally supported the other guys in the feud. I'll never forget, standin' in line at the mall to get Pink Floyd tickets, talkin' to some other guy about how Waters new music sucked and Gilmore was our man. It seemed clear then who the real key figures in Pink Floyd were.

The notion Waters put out at the time, that his exit from the band was like John Lennon and Paul McCartney leaving the Beatles, sounded like extreme arrogance on his part. Of course, in retrospect, I can see his point. He was definitely the boy genius behind this great music, particularly after Syd Barrett went nuts and was shunted aside, replaced by David Gilmore. But it occurs to me now that nether Lennon or McCartney ever produced music on their own on a par with the stuff they collaborated on with the Beatles. It's as if the parts were not equal to their sum. Maybe Pink Floyd is the same. Only my opinion. Remember, their like assholes. You know.

When he and the Gilmore led version of Floyd both came out with their own albums at about the same time, right after the break-up, it seemed the new Floyd music was light years better than the stuff Waters produced. This concert kinda confirms that fact, with only about two non Floyd tunes in the set list. I still love Gilmore's work, and respect his talent. I love the idea of the old guys are still makin' the music mostly by themselves, without a lot of extra accompaniment. But seeing clips of the DVD of Waters' 2000 concert tour, In The Flesh, convinced me that I had to see his version of the music for myself. My buddy Mushy's report of seeing the concert in Atlanta in 2007 cinched it. I had to see it, no matter what.

In the end, I'm totally happy with what I experienced. It's obvious that Waters is a genius. Perhaps one of the best musicians, lyricists and composers of our time. His politics, evident from the music and the graffiti emblazoned pink porcine spectacle that was towed around the arena, are predictable and forgettable. Growing up the way I did, loving the music, one learns to separate the artists work from their adolescent liberal ramblings. It's like suspending disbelief when yer watching a great movie. It goes with the territory that folks like this, living as they inevitable do, in a privileged cocoon, will have certain predictable feelings, and you can't let them get in the way of enjoying a great guitar solo. It's just stupid to do that. Who cares what he thinks about Iraq? He's just a friggin' musician!

Anyway, it was a wonderful time. I hope he stays healthy and comes around again in a few years because I'd love to see him again. I'd even pay the big price again. It was well worth it. You get what you pay for, don't ya?


Jerry said...

That was a lot of fun. We'll have to do it again some time soon.

Just got back home today. It's cold and rainy in Indiana.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

It was a blast man. Too bad you didn't have a ticket to the show. Email me when you're coming back and we'll do it again. Take care.

Myron said...

Glad you had a great time. Happy to hear you enjoyed the food. Whadjha have, huh, huh? Whadjha have? Sorry we couldn't join you.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Myron - It wonderful. I did the thing where you could make your own enchiladas. I had one chicken fajita, one beef fajita and one shrimp. Wonderful. The only thing we didn't try was the queso dip. Next time. Thanks again man. Denise and I want to go down there again and check out the mall. We'll have to hook up with you then.

Mushy said...

Rock on my brother!

A great summary...although I know very well that you can't put the experience into have to feel it to understand the draw!

Great shots - they look professional to me man! I love them and am glad that you got to sit so close. I hope I get another opportunity to and maybe sit that close.

I'll have another beer and crank up the tunes now!

pat houseworth said...

See the whiskers are coming back!

phlegmfatale said...

wow - what an incredible time you had! I'm glad you got to see RW on this tour. Happy for ya!