.......................................ROGER WATERS
Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal - Logo
. In The Flesh Brazilian Tour March 2002, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and São Paulo
.
"In The Flesh"
Concert at Rio de Janeiro:
March 9th, 2002

First of all I should mention that Pink Floyd has always been my #1 band of all times, since the release of Meddle in '71. At that time I was so impressed by its concept/sounds that I felt I had to listen all other earlier albums, Ummagumma being my favorite from that era. After that, I was simply astonished like everyone else by The Dark Side of The Moon in '73, the biggie, Alan Parsons' masterpiece of sound engineering, and the rest is history. 

Cut the scene , and we fast-forward to almost 30 years later... 

Here we are, watching the DVD release of Roger Waters - In The Flesh Live. Oh, the secret pleasure of hearing it all in 5:1 surround in a big flat 48" screen, the joys of digital technology... 

Yes, I must confess that being a guitar player, Gilmour´s playing style, with elegant and melodic solos, impressive guitar tone, slow hand no-nonsense finger techniques, is already part of my genetic imprint, and it certainly is one of the things that sets PF apart from the other bands, not to mention his distinctive vocals. By the time of the Gilmour/Waters split I must have thought something like " there goes the rings but at least we've kept the fingers..." . I´m aware that there´s a line drawn here among some floydians, the Waters X Gilmour controversy, which I won´t delve into. I´d rather think positively that we´ve ended getting some more PF studio and live albums, and that Waters had a chance to vent his brand of musical poetry which otherwise might not actually get recorded by the Floyd line-up. In private conversations I have never ending discussions over this matter with my bandmate Soren Lemche, who´s a hardcore Waters' camp follower but it all ends up in amiable jokes, even though neither of us budge a millimeter from our inner convictions... 

But the Waters´ DVD release brought inevitably the comparison between both line-ups. After all we have two different bands performing the same songs, an unusual fact in the prog rock history, maybe comparable to the situation that ocurred in YES, but I can´t remember of this happening to other prog rock acts. 

The first immediate question is : who´ll be filling in for Gilmour in the Waters band ? There they are, none less than 3 guitar players : Doyle Bramhal II on guitar and vocals, master Snowy White , Gilmour´s own sideman, and rock legend Andy Fairweather Low on rhytm guitar, a participant in all Waters' solo efforts. 

Bramhall II does a good impression. He´s not a note-by-note carbon copy of Gilmour, and brings in a kind of raw energy to the Floyd material, giving it a slightly harder edge and unexpected twists at otherwise familiar places. And that puts you the listener in the position of hearing different nuances and new angles in all-too-familiar songs. Also, being he a left-handed guitar player, it´s fun to watch him play a right-handed regular guitar literally upside down, meaning he can pick up anyone´s guitar and play it right away without the need of re-stringing it. It also means that he bends his strings down instead of up, and that his barre chords take a different geometry, quite fascinating and intriguing to watch and try to figure out what he´s really doing in his fretboard . A refreshing breath of air I should say... But, on the other hand, he´s not in the same league of guitar playing and perfection as David Gilmour. About his vocals, they sound ok, but a bit contrived. As for Snowy White it´s no wonder that Gilmour rarely concedes him a solo on stage, that could prove to be dangerous indeed... SW is a refined player embeded in the Floyd tradition, knows his solos by heart, and can combine technical dexterity with bluesy emotion. Andy Fairweather-Low kind of melts in the background playing for the team, and emerges only to stage a memorable chord solo in Money. 

Other key performers in the DVD are Jon Carin on keyboards, acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar and vocals.

He´s a gifted and versatile musician and does an amazing job on Dogs - the acoustic guitar intro and lead vocal - and also his lap steel playing on classics such as Breathe are perfectly handled. But Carin is also present in the Gilmour/Wright/Mason Pink Floyd studio and live line-up, so he´s a certified Floyd player with a stamped seal of approval and officially endorsed by the masters.

The DVD material, recorded 2 years ago in the USA, includes 6 songs taken from Waters' solo albums and 18 Pink Floyd songs. Buy it and you won´t regret it, trust me....

The second question is : why PF hasn´t yet released a DVD ? There is enough high quality material in VHS to justify at least a couple of DVD releases. It would be necessary to do a 5:1 remix of the sound, and it certainly would do justice to PF´s body of video work, with improved sound and digital image.

Another cut in the scene to March 9/2002...

At 9:00 pm Waters is about to begin his set at Apoteose, an open-air venue in Rio de Janeiro. A starry night, and in the hot summer weather 35.000 people are eager to listen to the other half of the PF story, at U$ 30 a ticket. The mood is peaceful, the crowd is receptive, no sign of disturbances or violence, and in a major event like this we see it all as a good omen. This is the second show in the South American leg of his tour, he played two nights ago in Chile, has three more dates in other states of Brazil and another in Argentina.

We were surprised by one crucial change in the band : off goes Doyle Bramhall II and in comes Chester Kamen on lead vocal and guitar... what are the possible implications of this single fact ?

This is a no-frills affair. No laser lightshows or fancy lighting rigs. There´s one main screen behind the stage, two side screens for detailed vision of the musicians, and besides the two main PA columns there are 5 other surround towers : 3 behind the audience, left/middle/right, another one in the middle-left of the audience and other in the middle right. A huge area is set apart for the FOH mixers and outboards. It´s clear the main concern here is sound precision and not distracting visuals. In fact throughout the night the sound is loud enough and clear, no distortion allowed even in the bass spectrum, which is a blessing for this kind of music. FOH engineers deserves special praise for not falling in the common trap of raising levels to unsustainable heights or overdriving the bass cabinets. These guys know what they are doing and probably the longevity of this tour plays an important part in this well oiled sound machine.

There was one single important sound misshap in the evening though, not in the FOH system, but in the stage part of it. Some stage tech should get the pink slip after the show...More on that later. Waters

was incredibly competent in his choice of the set list. The show is quite long with almost 3 hours of duration, including a 20 min. intermission. So basically we have two sets of approx. 1:20 of music and no openning act. He made the wisest choice possible : in the first set he played only Floyd material. Proven crown jewels of the floydian vast legacy. In the opening of the second set another devastating blow in the crowd : more Floyd classics, maybe even better than in the first set. Crowd reaction was immediate again. It´s mathematical like adding 2+2 : by playing these songs straight away he could never go wrong. Getting that out of the way, Waters got a firm grasp on the audience´s collective mind, that was left in an even more sympathetic and receptive mood, and he could calmly play 6 slow tempo songs from his solo albums : poetical and reflexive in nature, with no riffs and no well-known easy choruses, anchored in long winded chord changes with no particular hot solo spots, but all displaying his trade-mark mind-boggling lyrics. All were well received by the audience, Mr. Waters was visibly pleased. Wrapping it all up with a shattering version of Comfortably Numb , following it with an encore featuring another of his own compositions, Each Small Candle, which, by the way, has a very smart intro groove with Fender Rhodes elec. piano and guitars doing ad-libs solos over it. 

Now that you have the general idea, let´s delve into the actual set. It´s almost exactly the same set list as on the DVD. It would be tempting for a solo artist to impose on the audience his own songs, to enhance sales of his work, and treat his former band material as "oldies" to be dutifully performed. But quite contrarily, his choice of the set list shows a kind of self-imposed restraint that would prove to be a smart move to win the audience over, as it´s clear that material from his solo albums is uncharted territory for the vast majority of the people present. So he choses to please the audience, and, at the same time, to prove by his performance that Floyd´s legacy is as his as Gilmour/Wright/Mason´s.

Waters enters stage wearing black clothes as expected, with a white light cannon silhouetting his lone figure against the backdrop, perched in the uppermost part of the stage, he starts to sing In The Flesh against the heavy riffing of the guitars, a suitable opening drawing instant crowd reaction. Followed by The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Another Brick in the Wall, I was quite pleased to see the crowd being driven to a frenzy, jumping, dancing and singing the lyrics along with Waters. Surround effects were brought in the ouverture of the song, panning sounds around the audience, elevating the level of expectation and setting the mood for the explosion of energy moments later. Even Waters was surprised by this spontaneous combustion of the audience and left it to them to sing the second verse of the song and the choruses, limiting himself to play his bass with a smile of complicity on his lips.... And if we´re only into the third song of a 2:40 hours set, there maybe a lot more surprises in store for us...

From that moment on, the show was an easy ride for Waters, he felt well at ease and took his acoustic guitar for an emotional rendition of Mother, with PP Arnold singing Gilmour´s vocal part and the rest of the back-up singers Katie Kissoon and Susannah Melvoin reinforcing the verse lines. And The Wall phase was put at rest.

Next two songs, from The Final Cut, Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert and Southhampton Dock, more atmospheric and dense, leave a space for the audience settle in and and recompose from the metheoric start.

Animals is an album of dark sound textures and ominous overtones, and that sets it apart in PF's discography. There´s something in the sound of that album that strikes me as un-Floydian, the overall eq in the recording is not so clean and I find its dryness a bit uncomcortable to the ear in the heaviest passages when all the band plays togheter.Even Mason´s characteristic drumkit doesn´t sound like him at all. So we had no great expectations for the live performance of any of those songs. Waters presented renditions of Pigs on the Wing Part I and Dogs. I haven´t heard Dogs in awhile, at 17 min this one is long enough to saturate your ears if you don´t really appreciate the way it was recorded in the studio, although it´s a good song. To my surprise the live rendition of Dogs was far more effective than the original studio recording, and again Chester Kamen scored points for his vocal performance. Specially the intro, with that acoustic guitar uptempo rhytm played by Andy Fairweather-Low, and the middle solo section with twin guitars by Snowy White and Chester were rewarding and put it all under a new perspective. Thanks Roger, for showing what it was really all about. But I don´t blame the engineer ( Brian Humphries ) for that album´s sound, after all he´s the same guy that engineered Wish You Were Here that sounds quite perfect, it was clearly a producer´s choice to do Animals differently, and the production hat was on PF´s own head, sorry guys, you missed that one... Another noteworthy fact about Dogs is that the long middle atmospheric synth break is played by Harry Waters , the other keyboard player in the evening, yes, Roger Waters' blond long-haired son, while the boys sit on a poker table set onstage, drinking Jack Daniels while Waters deals a hand to Kamen, Graham Broad ( the drummer ) and Snowy White, with a sly grin on his face, flanked by the three back-up singers in languid poses... What the hell ??

And then we are envolved by the surround industrial intro of Welcome to the Machine, followed by the broken chords on acoustic guitar , and the difference is that the ac. gtr is more proeminent in the mix, turning it more musical and melodious and less machine-like. 

Wish You Were here was next, undoubtedly a crowd pleaser, well fit for sing-alongs around campfires, you just can´t go wrong with that one. Jumping to Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-9, featuring the dramatic opening solo by Chester Kamen and a second guitar solo by Snowy White, I began to realize what a big contribution Chester Kamen brought to this line-up : stability and a brilliant focus on stage that Waters could play against, rolling the ball back and forth. This guy handles Gilmour vocal parts with ease and certainty. Second , his playing is very focused, he´s "on" all the time, no strange notes were played in his fretboard and no deviations from the original formula were employed. His guitar tone is different from Gilmour´s, but yet it blends seamlessly with the material, sounding very familiar.

You could sense that he wasn´t playing exactly a not-by-note rendition of recorded material, but it felt right, Gilmour could have played those lines like this as he always does introduce subtle variations when playing live. So Kamen made quite an impression : if this guy can sing beautifully the vocal parts AND play with a deep feeling those monumental Gilmour solos, seeming very comfortable with the task, he must be at least 10 times better as a player than he´s showing on stage, I mean, he must have a wide safety margin to do things at that technical level so effortlessly... For a guitar player, to sub for David Gilmour is no easy task, since everybody in the audience knows all Gilmour's lines by heart, and any badly chosen variations would be frowned upon. Another wise choice from bandleader Waters...

Well, the sax break in Shine On was provided by Norbert Stachel. This guy travelled thousands of miles to Rio to play only three sax solos, one in Shine On, other in Money, and another in one of Waters' own songs, Amused to Death. But the Shine On solo is the hottest solo spot for the sax, the one everybody was waiting for. What happened is that some faulty cable line split on stage, or wireless mic failure, led to disaster : his solo was cut off from the PA, a few notes were heard here and there, the big screen showed his red contorted face blowing the horn, his fingers moving deftly through the sax body, the band playing on the rhytm, and the few notes that were heard left the impression of being completely out of context. We felt frustrated, and the song ended sadly, with Stachel leaving the stage without the proper recognition for his efforts. It´s clear that there´ll be hell to pay for some stage hand, I mean, wasn´t it all tested beforehand ? However, this was to be the only sound failure in this evening. In the DVD version of this show there´s no sax break, this part of Shine On was not performed.

The tightly packed front stage area dispersed a bit during the 20 min. intermission announced by Mr. Waters, a well deserved break for the musicians, the weather is far too hot and under those stage lights the temperature maybe several degrees hotter.

Roger comes back and the surround system comes alive again in the dark with the eerie intro of Set the Controls For the Heart of The Sun, and that song also sounds better than the live recording in Ummagumma. Again Waters is showing old material under a new perspective, scoring more points.

What can we possibly say about the next devastating sequence ? Speak to Me / Breathe / Time / Money ...

Hearing the intro heartbeats, lunatic giggling and female screaming in glorious surround anticipating the heavenly phased rhytm guitar arpeggios and lap steel solo lines are worth double the ticket price... Kamen again performs the lead vocal and main solos brilliantly, Waters plays his bass up in the mix dramatically enhancing each chord change by stepping heavily around the stage, lifting his right arm up after each note, he clearly knows this is a royal straight-flush sequence, can´t lose it...

Money is a disguised rhytm and blues, and in the middle section there´s a slight variation not unlike Gilmour´s PF version in PULSE, but not quite so long, and there happens some r&b solo exchanges beteween Kamen and White with the band backing off a bit to resume the climax moments later. Stachel now steps in with his sax and plays a superb solo leaving the stage with the audience cheering in incentive, the sound problem was solved, finally. Fairweather-Low, wearing a gray suite, appears frontstage playing a well thought out chord solo sequence, P.Townshend-like, right arm like a windmill, strangling viciously his guitar with his left hand, that´s attitude with capital "A"...

Needless to say that at the end of all this the audience is speechless and breathless, and we could all have gone home having satisfied all our desires...

I find it a bit odd that Waters avoided performing The Great Gig in the Sky, would it be because only Richard Wright is credited in this composition ? I would like to have seen the back-up vocal trio put to the final test...

But there´s still more to come : Every Stranger´s Eyes, Perfect Sense Parts I&II, The Bravery of Being Out of Range, The Ballad of Bill Hubbard, It´s a Miracle and Amused to Death. 

Soren, my danish bandmate, was thrown into immediate ecstasy, like it was Christmas/birthday party/honeymoon/ holding a winning lottery ticket/taking mind-expanding chemicals , all rolled into one...Among 35,000 people Soren must be among the few that really knows this stuff in and out and approves enthusiastically all songs of this sequence. And the crowd goes along, taking it all in, in good faith, after all Mr. Waters has paved his way for this. Indeed, like we´ve already said, his lyrics are outstanding and effective, Soren and I agree to that. But imho, it´s very hard for Waters to surpass musically the floydian legacy that stood the test of time and is organically embedded in our subconscious minds. His efforts are worthy and valiant, and clearly the creative flame is still burning within his probing mind, and he has not compromised by taking the easy road of tested and approved formulas, instead he chose to ride his own creative wave, he deserves respect for that.

Brain Damage / Eclipse / Comfortably Numb are next... Kamen and White trade lines in the second solo break of Comfortably Numb, in the upper stage area, taking this show into another climax. The echoed intro vocal lines by Waters are well followed by the urgent choruses sang by Kamen, this song sounds even better live than in the studio. Roger´s grave, mind-sedating voice in the verses has more impact in this live version, and I think that the second chorus lyrics are particularly inspired, addressing somehow those strange deja-vu sensations most of us have had in the forgotten childhood past. 

For the encore Waters produces one of his jewels, Each Small Candle, with inspired lyrics, a floydian intro groove by a Fender Rhodes elec. piano, guitars ad-libs, a well structured song with strong choruses, truly a remarkable ending for this event. Mission accomplished.

What we foresee/ speculate is that at the end of this Waters' tour cycle there may be a reunion with Gilmour´s PF again, that´s the logical next step : on one side there´s Waters with his powerful mind brimming with ideas, on the other side there´s the Firm, Gilmour´s Floyd with the musical competence to complement and enhance Waters' drive. Both Waters and Gilmour's PF have already proved their points : they can successfully lead their carreers and the floydian jewels belong to both of them. Why not reunite and produce some more classic Floyd stuff togheter ? Or, at least , play one mammoth concert in a suitable location for a DVD release with the classic line-up ? Let´s wait and see...

"In The Flesh"
Concert at São Paulo:
March 14th and 15th, 2002

Finally, Roger Waters was among us in Sao Paulo to perform the most important show for all the Pink Floyd and Roger Waters fans. In each show day over 25,000 people had been in the Pacaembu Football Stadium to see and to listen to the ex-leader of the legendary British Progressive Rock band, and they were not disappointed. There were fans of all ages, social classes and origins. There were teenagers that were not born yet when Pink Floyd was releasing The Wall album...  There were fiftyish loyal fans that have accompanied the course of the band as a quartet since its start till its breakdown...   And all of them sung the songs that made the major hits of the band between early '70 and '80 with Roger together, loved the masterpieces of his solo work, fell in ecstasy with the symphonic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and were amazed with the perfect surround effects of the sound and the psychedelic images projected on the gigantic screen above the stage. It was over three hours long historical concerts. Even the storm that had fallen over the city in Friday afternoon could prevent the fans to rush to the stadium or could steal the brightness of the show.

Ok, we are Pink Floyd fans... So maybe a few of us were unconsciously expecting to listen to the Gilmour's fantastic guitar

and his voice, the emotional perfection of Mason's drum and the magic sound of Wright's keyboard... (or the exact reproduction of the original sound that was all marked by fire in our heart) and have disappointed. Well, our wish was wrong! Obviously we did not listen to Pink Floyd's performance; we were there to listen to Roger Waters and his band. And the musicians are all very talented also, mostly Harry Waters, keyboard player. Graham Broad is a drummer that proved us to be amazing performer too. Snowy White and Andy Fairweather-Low are also the fantastic guitarists; they have their only style and skill to interpret in their own way the many PF's hits, that is a really hard task, I would say, because of the inevitable comparison with the Gilmour's unmistakable performance. The very few mistakes in the sound, such as an unexpected guitar chord distortion
and one or two strange notes out of tune, were not even realised by the people completely involved in the magic. And the tears of the nostalgia dropped by the many middle age fans had only enhanced the aura over the stage. 

The dream was real for one week for Brazilians. But now, after his departure, one question grows in my heart: WHY? Why had Roger Waters give us such a great gift, he has always hated to perform that way... Only in Brazil, almost 100,000 people were in his four shows performed in six days to listen to him, and he is working beyond the natural human capacity to share his blessed creations even with risks to his health. He is performing a show in each couple days, each show in different city, in different country, with different climate and in different time zone. I'm very concerned about his health; he seemed to me a bit tired in the end of the show in Sao Paulo. We had gratefully consumed him as the hungry cannibals of the idols, just because he had offered himself as the sacrifice for the ritual of adoring Pink Floyd, despite of all he's said before... 

I hope that he can lower the frenzied rhythm of his tour and take care of his own health, because we all love Roger Waters - the Soul of the Progressive Rock, the Master of the Truth and the Poetry in the Music - and wish him the really long and very creative life.

.
By Clara Y. YamamotoN
 
.
This page was optimized
for use with Internet Explorer, FireFox and Netscape. For best view please use  800x600 HiColor
Bands and Artists Contact, comments, live dates and news

Please send e-mail to: Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal


Back To
Main Page
.
© Copyright Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal
.