Waters' show presents music of Pink Floyd on a more human scale

By Dave Ferman, Star-Telegram Pop Music Critic
Sunday, Jun. 11, 2000

DALLAS -- Going to see Pink Floyd in a stadium is to experience the venerable English art- rock band rock as spectacle -- the musicians are dwarfed by the special effects and almost beside the point.

To attend a Roger Waters show -- as was the case last night at Starplex -- is to experience many of these same songs `as songs,' which is, to my thinking, more enjoyable.

That's not to say Waters' show, which drew a respectable crowd of 13,000 or so, did not have any special effects. One of the best was the large round diamond/disco ball that rose from behind the band during `Shine on You Crazy Diamond' and bathed the crowd in revolving light.

But it is to say that this long, luscious two-set show made up mainly of Floyd classics -- such as `In the Flesh?,' `Dogs,' `Welcome to the Machine' and the like -- was on a more human scale. It felt like we were being played `to,' rather than `at.'

Waters, who co-founded the band and wrote the bulk of its most enduring songs, including nearly all of its two-LP concept opus `The Wall,' has returned the Floyd's music to an almost intimate level, and with the help of a solid nine-person band, he dusted it off and made it feel vibrant and alive again.

The show kicked off at 8 p.m. sharp with `In the Flesh?,' the opening track from `The Wall,' with Waters looking dapper and healthy in a sober black suit. It was soon evident that the music would often sound as close to the recorded versions as possible -- which was fine, as Pink Floyd was never about improvisation. And to that end, it was extremely successful.

But this was not just a by-the- numbers recital -- in large part because of lead guitarist Doyle Bramhall II. Bramhall, who spent several formative years in Fort Worth, definitely made his mark last night: He could play `exactly' like the Floyd's David Gilmour when necessary, but he also added a bluesier, stinging edge here and there, the most notable example being the intro to `Shine,' in which he pulled out some Albert King- inspired licks to give the song a fresh, tart kick.

There were a few nice little touches, as well. Waters actually walked out to the wings at several points, and during the middle section of `Dogs' (which sounded brilliant and full, by the way) he, Bramhall and guitarists Andy Fairweather-Low and Snowy White sat down at a table onstage and played cards for a while before again picking up their instruments to finish the song.

Waters' music has always mined a darker vein of feeling than most in rock: His music is often devoted to deep anger and sadness, repression and frustration. But while many of the songs that made him famous as one of the more dour performers in rock history were on display, this show -- like the Cure's visit to the same venue just a few weeks ago -- felt like a celebration.

Dave Ferman


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