ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DEC. 18, 1987
By Steve Newton
Seeing Pink Floyd live is a luxury that every rock fan should allow him or herself at least once. Yours truly took advantage of the opportunity to do just that last Thursday (December 10), along with about 44,000 other lucky dogs at B.C. Place.
It was my first Floydian experience, and one that won’t be soon forgotten, Roger Waters or no Roger Waters.
As you probably already know, Waters is no longer a part of Pink Floyd. Many people seem to think that the former bassist/lyricist/co-lead vocalist was the heart and soul of the band, and that the group is lost without him.
I don’t know. I’ve always been more a fan of guitarist/co-lead vocalist David Gilmour myself. At any rate, Pink Floyd is his baby now, and it’s Gilmour’s distinctively laid-back vocal style and scintillating guitar that command attention these days.
He used both to good effect on the opening tune, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, and was backed up by a wicked band that included original Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason (who was himself backed up by another drummer).
Through the night saxophonist Scott Page shook things up with stirring, go-for-broke solos. And a trio of fabulous female back-up singers provided the necessary vocal oomph to drive home the band’s repertoire of new and old material.
“We’re gonna save the older stuff for later on,” announced Gilmour, after the band had played “Learning to Fly”, the first single from its latest album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. A huge circular screen at the rear of the stage projected landscapes and psychedelic images, and then the show’s first laser effects kicked in.
As the solid rays of green and red painted squiggly lines on the ceiling of the dome, Gilmour put his white Stratocaster into overdrive on such new tunes as “The Dogs of War” and “A New Machine”.
By the time the band took a break, about halfway through the show, it was like “Roger who?”
As expected, most of the real treats had been reserved for the second set, like the enormous inflatable pig with glowing red eyes that came flying out on wires from stage left and dangled above the crowd at centre field. The familiar opening chimes of “Time”, from the band’s historic Dark Side of the Moon LP, got the crowd all riled up as did Nick Mason’s laser drumsticks.
Instead of segueing into the reprise of “Breathe”, as “Time” does on the album, it ran into the spacey synth and computer-effect intro of “On the Run”, and when that song’s crashing-airplane effect was about to happen, a hospital bed came zooming down on wires from the far end of the dome, colliding at stage right with a ball of flame, which made it appear that the bed had exploded.
While a lot of concert light shows become repetitious and predictable, Pink Floyd’s never did. Robot-type laser columns rose from the stage floor and shot off streams of lasers before disappearing again, while underneath Dave and the boys gave the crowd what they came for with faves like “Wish You Were Here”, “Welcome to the Machine”, “Us and Them”, and, of course, “Money”.
And what’s a Pink Floyd show without that old standby, the mirror ball? It showed up for “Comfortably Numb”, turning the stage into a Milky Way of twinkling effects. The band’s two-song encore ended with “Run Like Hell”, a song from The Wall, and a high-flying eruption of sparks on both sides of the stage.
It was an appropriate finale to one of the best sound and light extravaganzas I’ve ever witnessed. Now at least I won’t feel like a chump when my buddies start bragging about having seen Pink Floyd.
To hear the full audio of my 1984 interview with David Gilmour subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 325 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
…with hundreds more to come