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Roger Waters and Pink Floyd - Barbican Hall, London, May 10th 2007 Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Friday, 11 May 2007

syd tribute concertFollowing our news item late last night, we now bring you more information on the superb, at times quirky, and above all, affectionate tribute show for Roger "Syd" Barrett, Madcap's Last Laugh.

Held at the Barbican Hall in the heart of the city of London, it featured an array of Syd's fans and colleagues, performing a healthy chunk of his back catalogue. Amongst these, were Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright, between them performing three songs in honour of their old bandmate. Profits from the concert were donated to the mental health charity SANE, nominated by the Barrett family (who were represented at the show by Ian, his cousin).

syd concert stageKicking off things with a playback of Blind Boy Fuller, the middle of the three screens revealed the sleeve notes which gave rise to the name "Pink Floyd". From that point on, the screens were used to full effect - either showing footage of Syd in performance or in interview, or as the backdrop for the lightshow performed by the same people who, some 40 years ago, provided the psychedelic projections at UFO.

Amongst the lighting effects used were numerous liquid/oil based effects, cassettes, the giant Sploda, polarised crystal wheels and Total Eclipse, and the people operating these goodies took a load of great pictures whilst hard at work - visit www.optifanatics.com to see them.

Below, we've posted the full setlist, along with the various performers responsible. Each performer clearly had a love and respect for the man, and each song was tackled in a special way. Thought had clearly gone into the approach to each song, and some of the biggest applause came for the more unusual treatments on offer.

Some of the key performances included the stunning rendition of Chapter 24, the blistering Astronomy Domine, and the jaunty Word Song. Having a choir made an interesting change, and worded incredibly well.

Nick Laird-Clowes, long-time associated with David and the Floyd, and the excellent house band, formed an excellent backing to a number of the songs, and indeed Nick was the musical director and producer of the night (with Joe Boyd associate producer).

Also instrumental in pulling together many of the artists was The Pretenders lead singer, Chrissie Hynde. Performing two great renditions of tracks from The Madcap Laughs (apologising for singing them in an American accent!) she was responsible for getting many of her friends and associates involved in the event.

Roger lights "Flame" for Syd

roger at syd showOne of the first big surprises of the evening, was the introduction of Roger Waters. Coming on stage with Jon Carin, he seemed nervous, and as he sat on a chair for his "turn", told the audience that he was "too old to stand up for three minutes!". Almost immediately, a cry rang out of "Pink Floyd!" to which he responded: "Later... later." A taken-aback crowd quietly took this comment in...

Explaining his nerves at playing at such an intimate event, he said: "Of course, I'm terrified. These small occasions are much more frightening than the big ones where you can hide behind all the paraphanalia - all the lights, and the flashes and bangs, and all that preparation. But for those of us who suffer from a sense of shame, and doom, as I'm sure any of you who know my work will know I have all my life [suffered with], this is all quite stressful.

"However, it would not have been stressful for Syd, because he did not suffer from those things in the same way that I do. Before the illness, he lived his life like he walked: he kind of... bounced, the whole time, and a lot of that rubbed off on the rest of it, and I think that his lack of a sense of shame that enabled him to take all the risks that he did, musically, and that's why we owe him such an enormous debt. Certainly I do personally because without Syd, I don't know what I'd be doing - probably would have been a property developer or something!"

With Jon Carin joining him on stage, he explained why he chose his own song, Flickering Flame: "I was thinking about this, and [this song] seemed apposite, so we'll try and struggle through it." With a simple spot above Roger, and a subtle oilslide projection behind him, a touching, emotional tribute. The nerves seemed to be visibly affecting Roger throughout, but this didn't come across in the vocal or musical performance. A lovely way to end the first half.

The second half

With David's guitar tech Phil Taylor busying himself on the stage during the interval, anticipation began to rise. Various band members had been spotted in the audience, all in close proximity to each other, along with the likes of Storm Thorgerson, John "Hoppy" Hopkins, Peter Jenner and even The Kinks' Ray Davies had been seen there.

Starting the second half on a stunning note, one of the highlights of the night - the performance of Chapter 24 complete with choir. Wonderful.

The quality did not let up for a moment - from the Pathe News outtakes accompanying a very rustic sounding Scarecrow, to Damon Albarn's suitably jaunty Word Song (as he pointed out, Syd had used a form of "early rap"!) which had the crowd laughing, Captain Sensible and Jon Carin's Astronomy Domine blasting any cobwebs away, Robyn Hitchcock's sensitive readings (accompanied by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones), and Chrissie Hynde's emotional vocals.

Just prior to the Word Song's start, Damon called on Ian Barrett to come up and say a few words about his uncle. Clearly filled with emotion about the event, and the love towards Roger, he implored everyone to remember "what was important: the words, and the music", and offered his "thanks to Rog - I've got so much to thank him for", which summed up the flavour of the evening.

pink_floyd_at_syd_tribute
(photo courtesy of Steve Chadfield)

"A suitable band to close the show..."

Joe Boyd, taking time out from the organisational side of things, came on stage to wrap things up. In a speech that initially got a couple of misguided heckles, he explained how things changed in his relationship with Syd, moving from the talented young guy in the corner of a room, playing a selection of songs that he felt weren't suitable for his band at the time, to the man who's solo albums at the time Joe found incredibly difficult to listen to, but had traces of those early versions hidden within the tracks.

Thanking those involved for their help in pulling together the artists involved in the show (giving particular thanks to Chrissie Hynde and Nick Laird-Clowes), he said that when he was coming up with the format of the show, he could really only see one suitable way to conclude it...

syd concert rick and davidAnd so on stage, billed not as Pink Floyd, but "Rick Wright, David Gilmour, Nick Mason", came the second shock of the night. With them all looking pleased to be able to offer their tribute to Syd, David commented that Syd "really was everything they say he was, our Syd." On hearing calls for "Roger Waters!" David replied: "Yes, he was here too... now the rest of us!"

Having performed the song last year on David's tour, it was a good, polished run-through of the track, and it was nice to see Nick on drums again.

To wrap everything up nicely, on trouped all of the evening's performers (with the exception of Roger), and they launched in a fun revisit of Bike - bookending the show nicely.

A superb evening - a fitting tribute to Syd.

Concert programme

For those who weren't there, and would like to see the programme for the evening, the Barbican website has posted it as an Adobe PDF format file. Click here to see it.

SETLIST:
- Sense of Sound Choir: Bike
- Captain Sensible and Monty Oxymoron: Flaming
- Kevin Ayers: Here I Go
- Kevin Ayers: Oh, What A Dream
- Nick Laird-Clowes and Damon Albarn: Baby Lemonade
- The Bees: Octopus
- Nick Laird-Clowes and Neulander: The Gnome
- Mike Heron: Matilda Mother
- Martha Wainright, Kate McGarrigle and Lily Lanken: Golden Hair
- Martha Wainright, Kate McGarrigle and Lily Lanken: See Emily Play
- Roger Waters and Jon Carin: Flickering Flame
Intermission
- Sense of Sound Choir and Nick Laird-Clowes: Chapter 24
- Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson and Nick Laird-Clowes: Scarecrow
- Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson and Nick Laird-Clowes: Love Song
- Ian Barrett, talking about his uncle Rog
- Damon Albarn, Kate St John and David Coulter: The Word Song
- Captain Sensible and Jon Carin: Astronomy Domine
- Robyn Hitchcock: Terrapin
- Robyn Hitchcock, John Paul Jones and Ruby Wright: Gigolo Aunt
- Chrissie Hynde and Adam Seymour: Dark Globe (Wouldn't You Miss Me)
- Chrissie Hynde and Adam Seymour: Late Night
- Joe Boyd, talking about Syd and organising the show
- David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason: Arnold Layne
- All performers (except Roger Waters): Bike

House band: Ted Barnes, Andy Bell, Simon Finley and Adam Peters

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