Roger Waters in the Flesh

It began with

So ya thought ya
Might like to go to the show.
To feel that warm thrill of confusion,
That space cadet glow.

I’ve got some bad news for you sunshine,
Pink isn’t well, he stayed back at the hotel
And they sent us along as a surrogate band
We’re gonna find out where you folks really stand.

darksideofthemoon

I was there to see Roger Waters perform yesterday at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai. He is the creative genius behind the lyrics and much of the music of The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. He sang selected songs from The Wall in the first half of the concert and then performed The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety in the second half. Just before the intermission, the huge pink inflated rubber pig took off for the skies. Painted on were the usual political slogans and on its butt was “Impeach Bush Now.”

Don McLean asked in his song “American Pie” if you believed in rock and roll and if music could save your mortal soul. I think if you grow up listening to bands such as Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues, you do believe and it does elevate your (note mortal) soul. Yes, one does growup eventually and moves on to different, more introspective, more challenging music as one’s soul developes, but one continues to love those oldies just as much.

Hey you, standing in the road
always doing what you’re told,
Can you help me?
Hey you, out there beyond the wall,
Breaking bottles in the hall,
Can you help me?
Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all
Together we stand, divided we fall.

I spent some time observing the crowd before the event. Ages ranged from sixty to sixteen. Here was an entire family–mother, father, two teenaged daughters. And here was a father and son. I got to talking to the son. Do you like this sort of music? Yes, he answered. And yes, he did realize that when The Dark side was released, his mother was a teenager. There is something about this music that endures. The average age of the people at the concert was, I estimate, around 35 years and I thought that most of the people there were not even born when the group formed.

When we grew up and went to school
There were certain teachers who would
Hurt the children in any way they could

By pouring their derision
Upon anything we did
And exposing every weakness
However carefully hidden by the kids
But in the town, it was well known
When they got home at night, their fat and
Psychopathic wives would thrash them
Within inches of their lives.

The western world has given a lot of good stuff to the world. Rock and roll music, and rock concerts must be one of the better contributions that the west made to the world’s collection of wonderful things, I thought to myself. Imagine, I wondered, what how poor the world would be without this music, music that makes you jump up and sing along and yes, even protest injustice and war and the evils of organized religions and powerful governments. Only in liberal societies can this sort of music originate and only in liberal societies can this sort of creativity and courage and freedom be allowed.

Roger Waters mentioned that he has been touring the Far East and Australia and now he was in India. I realised that he would not be able to say that he has been touring the Middle East and Bangalesh and Pakistan. For that, I am grateful that I am Indian. But I fear that the Middle East is creeping into India and upon us, and in some years if the powers that be have it their way, this sort of music–or perhaps any sort of music–will be banned.

The pink pig took off. As it disappeared into the darkness of the sky beyond the reach of the concert search-lights, I wondered where it was going to land. Imagine an inflatable pig the size of an elephant coming down in a village close to Mumbai.

The Dark Side was coming to an end.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me ’til I’m sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.
And then at the end of that song, when all you can hear is the loud thump-thump thump-thump of a heartbeat, you hear the voice declare, “There is no dark side of the moon; in fact, it is all dark.”

9 thoughts on “Roger Waters in the Flesh

  1. Nikhil Dandekar Tuesday February 20, 2007 / 4:34 am

    One of the reasons why music of Pink Floyd is so popular is the strength of the lyrics. As this subtle yet powerful anti-war cry from Us and Them:

    Us and Them, And after all we’re only ordinary men
    Me, and you, God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do
    Forward he cried from the rear
    And the front rank died
    The General sat, and the lines on the map
    Moved from side to side

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  2. Manu Tuesday February 20, 2007 / 8:09 am

    What can I say… they are one of the greatest bands ever. Like Nikhil points out, depth of thought in the lyrics is amazing.

    Unfortunately, this depth of thought is almost always morbid. Only the early albums have a rare “Biding my time” as one of the jolliest Pink Floyd songs!

    Perhaps they are correct. One of my professor’s quit Psychology to study Organization Behavior because she realized that ‘pessimists are realists. It is the rest of us, the optimists who seem to have lost it’.

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  3. Blue Tuesday February 20, 2007 / 11:20 am

    I remember the first time I heard Dark Side of the Moon… I couldn’t stop listening to it for a month. How fascinating to hear it live! So much of what I loved about Dark Side was its use of stereo — the footsteps “running across my head,” etc. How did that transfer?

    What sort of music is approved in Middle Eastern countries? What is banned?

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  4. ashish Tuesday February 20, 2007 / 6:04 pm

    hey Atanu, heard Walters in Bangalore almost 8 years ago I think. we had those fancy tickets and went walking all the way (some 8 Km). after hero worship of a few years, it was like a dream come true.

    Many of those songs make me shiver in excitement…

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  5. Meraj Thursday February 22, 2007 / 5:29 pm

    even i went to ‘the show’ so i thought about adding a few points to Atanu’s write up:
    – the concert was a huuuge one by Indian standards (and ive been to all the big ones, so far)…the pyrotechnics, the pig flying in the air etc. it was a real show
    – the surround sound effect and the incredible quadrophonic sound quality was again a first for the country
    – the trademark Floyd precision was unbelievable…’The Dark Side…’ was delivered flawlessly (running footsteps, sinister laughters, ‘frightened of dying’ et al). once again established the fact that Pink Floyd was/is/whatever one of the finest studio bands ever.
    – the long walk back to the home after the concert was over (for the lack of public vehicles) didnt feel like one because of the happiness inside.

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  6. Colin D sa Thursday February 22, 2007 / 6:41 pm

    Saw Roger Waters in Dubai last night (21st Feb , 2007 ) and unless I’m wrong the UAE is very much a part of the Middle East ! Needless to say the biggest hit here was Leaving Beirut with its Political Overtones ! The Set list seems to be almost identical to Mumbai . Now looking forward to Dubai Desert Rock on March 9 and 10th with a galaxy of bands like Iron Maiden , Stonesour , The Prodigy , In Flames , Incubus , The Bravery , Prime Circle and Junkyard Groove from India !

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  7. Abhishek Friday February 23, 2007 / 11:07 pm

    Waters later albums were watered down versions of his “creativity”. Interestingly, he thrives on giving performances based on the old albums. I remember reading about the controversial law suit which related to owning the name of Pink Floyd. I guess that included the rights to play the old songs that they had collaborated on.

    Yes, floyd was indeed one of the finest bands ever. Perhaps the only Brit band that I have ever liked (with the exception of Black Sabbath- the “dimps” from Birmingham).

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  8. Rohit Saturday February 24, 2007 / 6:29 pm

    Dear Mr.Dey,

    I don’t think you’ll remember, but I happened to be at the concert with my dad. I had won a free ticket while my dad had to buy a Rs. 2000 ticket. I was therefore with a friend of mine and together we happened to sit right below the the huge speakers kept at the back. You had asked me the question, which was the year in which The Dark side of the Moon was released and why I enjoy this type of music.

    Just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your company at a the concert and it will indeed be a memorable one. I don’t know if you would be able to reply on account of your busy schedule but I’ll be looking forward to hear from you.

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  9. BiggJC Friday March 2, 2007 / 5:21 pm

    I am eagerly awaiting Waters arrival in Vancouver as this will be the first time I’ve had the opportunity to see him perform live. I was lucky enough to watch Floyd, minus Waters, during their tour in ’94. As an avid fan of all music created by the members of the band I encourage you all to look beyond The Wall and Dark Side. Most of my favorite songs are so rarely heard that most “fans” I meet have no knowledge of them. Delve a little deeper into their library and I’m certain you’ll gain a new appreciation for the genius of their art.

    Who is the strongest, who is the best?
    Who holds the aces, the East or the West?
    This is the crap our our children are learning!
    But oh, oh, the tide is turning…..

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