Serendipity

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Roger Waters

Drove up to the in-laws' place in Bedford from Plymouth on Friday night. Missed all the football.

On Saturday we left the B-Ling with his grandparents and Mrs B and I went to London for the day on the train. Arrived in The Smoke at about 11 am and went to Covent Garden, had a little wander about in the sunshine, had a very nice pasty, did a bit of shopping, had a pint of cider in a deliciously air-conditioned pub. "What next?" says she. "I like to pop into the Argyll Inn at Oxford Circus when I'm in the area" quoth I so off we went. A pint of Addlestones this time. Then off to Regent Street for a spot more shopping. Bedlam!! Unbeknownst to us it was Gay Pride day and every type of homosexual known to mankind was their to celebrate their... Um, well just to celebrate really. Great fun and quite an eye opener I can tell you. Especially the Gay S&M crew and the transgender people. Then there was the drag acts and lots more besides. Biggest cheer was for the Gay and Lesbian Ambulance Persons. Loud music from the floats and lots of whistle blowing. I never really believed before that some people wore sailor suits but they do. Believe me. I'm not sure where they were headed but there must have been one helluva party somewhere later that night and jooly good fun seemed to be had by all.

Still boldy onward we went and arrived at Hyde Park for Roger Waters at the London Calling Festival just in time to get for Chris Difford's opening act. He ran through a selection of old Squeeze hits largely to mass disinterest of the the sun-baked throng that had gathered. A shame really. Great songs and they deserved better. "Have a nice Pinky Floydy sort day" said he. We intended to.

Mrs B and I positioned ourselves so that she could watch the bands and I could watch the football - on a big screen which with no commentary was really quite weird. Luckily we had brought a walkman along so I had 5Live for the commentary. Break Co-Op (?) came and went without eliciting much reaction from me, Mrs B or anyone else. Starsilor Mrs B enjoyed. They were a bit louder and peed me off because I couldn't hear the commentary anymore. Texas were, well, dull. They themselves seemed more interested in the football (the penaties were on at this stage). An announcer came on and told us it was the hottest day of the year so far. The sweat trickled down by back in agreement. To be honest it was only once the game was over that I started to pay much attention to the festival. Beer was only £3 a pint which was a pleasant surprise. Pear cider was £3.50 and very refreshing it was too. The bars were very big with lots of staff and you got served quickly.

We had an amble around and caught The Lightning Seeds on the second stage and they were pleasant enough. I've got a few of their CDs and I can't really say that gigs add much to them. The opposite if anything. A little saddened that we had missed Suzanne Vega ("well you did want to watch the match...") we made our way to the main stage, in earnest, for the first, and only, time. The searing heat had died down a little and a perfect British summer's evening followed. Prior to The Man himself coming on they were playing loads of Neil Young over the PA. Helpless, Needle and the Damage Done, Southern Man. I don't think I've ever seen such enthusiastic singing along to taped music before. Then the main event: Roger Waters. The show was broken up into 3 parts. To begin with there was a trot through Floyd's back catalogue. A couple of his own songs (which were new to me) near the end. Here's a song list (I think it's right) for those obsessives who might be interested: In The Flesh, Mother, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were, Here Gunner's Dream, Southampton Dock, Fletcher Memorial Home, Perfect Sense, Leaving Beirut, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun and Sheep What really stood out though was the passion of some of these songs. Especially the anti-war ones. Reg (or was it Rog?) spat out some of the lines and the images accompanying them no room for misunderstanding the vitriol and contempt as scathing line after scathing line was rammed home. To be honest I was more than a little surprised. I'd seen him solo before aeons ago and I had seen Floyd (minus Reg) but I had never seen this emotion before on either occasion. Neil Young is on record as saying he just recorded an anti-war album because nobody else out there was doing it. Well, Reg has breathed some fresh life into some old tunes and they sounded every bit as relevant today (well the other day) as they ever could have. Shock and awe? Not 'alf!! Then there was a short break. Every took the chance to relax. The sun was nealy gone and the temperature had dropped to about a relatively icy 85 F!! They came back on accompanied by Nick Mason this time (is half of Pink Floyd Pi Flo?) and they played The Dark Side Of The Moon in it's entirety. Stunning. The Great Gig In The Sky was the highlight for me. It was so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye. I'm not sure which of the backing singers it was but she was amazing. This section was also considerably louder than what had gone before. Reg must have counted the money from the £42.50 (+£5 booking fee) during the interval and bunged an extra 10 bob in the meter. I paid less for my tickets. The predominantly white, middle-aged and middle-class crowd sang along in rapturous unison (funnily enough everybody seemed to know the words to every song). The encore followed and they did: The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2, Vera, Bring The Boys Back Home and Comfortably Numb. All the way through the universal themes of greed, money, oil and war were underlined again and again by the imagery on the screens flanking the stage and behind it. The lyrics to Leaving Beirut were screened and if anybody wants a taste of things then look 'em up. Just how the show will play in the States is anyone's guess. I can't see it being very popular in Texas. I wouldn't expect Bush or Blair to be a special guest, either. The other theme running through the whole show was Syd Barrett. He was there on numerous bits of film and the drugged-out magnificence of Comfortably Numb obviously stems from Syd Barrett's rather sad story/demise. The end.

Well nearly. Just as our journey there was delayed and disrupted by Gay Pride then the journey home was beset by problems. The police had closed the nearest tube station and we had to walk to Victoria. After a day in the baking sun, trudging around a steaming London and drinking fruit-based alcoholic beverages it seemed a very long way. Indeed I've got some shocking blisters to prove it. Then London Transport proceded to shut just about every travel option for us to get back to St. Pancras. One of the many trains we got on was filled with boisterous and singing Frenchmen. "Brazil have lost, then" thought I - not much gets past me you know. When we eventually did get there St Pancras was shut so we had to walk back to Kings Cross Thameslink. Our troubles were over except for the fact that the next train didn't turn up. Stiil at around 2am we arrived back at base tired, hot, blistered and thirsty. Maybe I'm getting too old for this gigging lark. Still it was all worth it... "And when the band you're in Starts playing different tunes I'll see you on the Darkside Of the Moon"

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