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Concert review by BD's Paul Powell Jr Print E-mail

Pink Floyd at Live 8
Pink Floyd at Live 8
July 2nd, 2005

Dispatch from across the pond: Pink Floyd Reunite!

There is nothing comparable to experiencing Pink Floyd live in concert. For fans here in the United States, MTV/VH1's 8 hour Live 8 coverage was our only way to watch the most anticipated musical reunion of the last quarter century. After enduring six long hours of seemingly endless VJ chat and mind-numbing commercials, we got mostly a random selection of live and tape-delayed songs retrieved from artists playing in Philadelphia, London, Berlin, and Tokyo.

While some of Live 8's music was badly edited and un-remarkable, most of the artists rose to the occasion and delivered exceptional performances. After a bombastic set from The Who (they played the CSI theme songs - a popular tv show here in the states), the Floyd took to the stage a little after 6pm EST on MTV America. Awestruck, I watched the four original members play wonderfully for a total of 21min 35sec, that is until the MTV corporation felt the need to sever the Floyd's set right during its emotional climax - more on that later.

During the preceding days, I read many reports of the Floyd's rehearsals going very well with a set list that changed throughout the days leading up to Saturday night's Live 8 performance. This news conflicted with Nick's published comments during the week that the band needed to start rehearsing quite soon!

On Friday evening, a gathering of lucky Floyd fans climbed trees surrounding Hyde Park during final rehearsals to get a closer look, and hear the Floyd pound out their classics. My anticipation for the Floyd's reunion was now peaking - it had been a long, long time since they last created music onstage together, twenty-four years to be exact. As the years drifted by from that golden age, the promise of another live performance from the fantastic four grew increasingly remote.

Saturday night 2 July 2005 will forever be treasured by Pink Floyd fans the world over. By the first notes of Breathe I knew this was a defining moment for all whom understand and appreciate what Pink Floyd have contributed to mankind in the preceding four decades. It was quite surreal seeing Dave, Nick, Rick and Roger playing together again, and from their expressions, especially Roger, genuinely enjoying themselves!

The Floyd were a force of nature again, playing with renewed vigor and prowess. Dave, ever the consummate musician sang the bulk of the lyrics and delivered his trademark guitar solos. The camera however spent way too little time on Rick, yet his playing was sharp and melodic. And let us all be thankful that the Floyd had only one drummer tonight. From the camera view provided by overhead shots you would be forgiven from thinking this was Live at Pompeii - Nick played true to form, cracking the drums like some of those younger guys earlier in the day.

Yet we all had eyes on Roger and there was much to watch. In just a short set Roger became the voice of the band, addressing the audience in such a sincere way I had to replay the video to confirm all that I had heard - it was indeed an emotional experience. The electricity onstage between the Floyd was palatable; Roger singing the words to Breathe away from the mic, Dave grimacing during his solo for Money, Roger getting emotional for WYWH, and both waving their arms in the air during Comfortably Numb.

I thought the choice of lighting and images used during their performance was both tasteful and striking. The most poignant image occurred at the close of their set, perfectly fitting for the Live 8 event. Across white bricks behind the Floyd, the word "Poverty" in red script appeared, gradually turning into "Make Poverty History," as if Gerald Scarfe was writing it in with a massive red pen. Nice touch guys!

For everything good, there is often the bad, and in this case the very bad. How the Floyd's performance was broadcast on MTV America was all well and good until Comfortably Numb reached its emotional crescendo during the final guitar solo. Then it happened - babbling VJ commentary by two amateur MTV correspondents. Then we were teased with a few moments more of the Floyd onstage before MTV cut away completely for a series of commercials!

This single irresponsible act of commercial greed shows a total lack of respect for Pink Floyd as musicians and was extremely upsetting to the millions of fans watching the concert. What MTV did was to demonstrate how much more important the corporations buying advertising time are to them than anything else - it was greed pure and simple. In this case, both MTV and the advertisers are equally guilty having blatantly betrayed the Live 8 cause by being bottom feeders for the explicit purpose of making money. Money is indeed the root of all evil.

Live 8 was a hopeful day marked by many emotional moments forever etched in the minds of millions. Primarily, the Floyd agreed to play Live 8 with the conviction that the issues of African poverty and debt relief were infinitely larger than themselves. Granted the global issues at hand are very complex and will not be solved any time soon. The ultimate solution hangs in the balance with the governing power at the G8 Economic Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

But I think by making everyone stop and listen, we will ask the right questions and learn a whole lot more about the world we live in. Thank You Bob Geldof for bringing us Live 8, and most of all for your role in reuniting Pink Floyd! You certainly deserve a Nobel Peace Prize!

The Floyd's Live 8 performance was a wonderful gift to their fans for remaining so loyal for so very long. Additionally, the concert introduced the Floyd's music to a brand new gathering, many now fans after witnessing that the old school of Rock, in their case, remains the most relevant and vital.

For the Floyd, I would like to think that this coming together to play magnificent music again will have inspired the group to do something creative, maybe to exchange ideas, concepts, and music with each other with the good chance it could become another grand chapter in their long musical legacy. Thank You Dave, Nick, Rick and Roger for putting aside your differences for one fine evening and playing an awesome show! Long Live Pink Floyd!

Addendum Saturday 9 July 2005:

This time MTV got it right. Still bruised and bloody from a deserved week of public stoning and whipping, MTV and VH1 packaged up and rebroadcast 5 hours each of artists that sort of fit their respective musical demographic. Finally, no commercials and chat, just the music as it was meant to be.

Both networks collectively aired the entire sets of U2, Coldplay, McCartney, and Pink Floyd, among others. Pink Floyd fans finally got to see their entire Live 8 performance - from the first fleeting moments of Breathe to the incendiary conclusion of Comfortably Numb. The only blemish of the re-airing was muting that naughty word from Money.

No one will forget this momentous concert, or the expressions of the group as they embraced and waved goodnight to a rapturous audience. Kudos go also to Dick Parry, Tim Renwick, Jon Carin and C. Numb's backup singer, Carol Kenyon. And by the way, who is the lucky person or persons who caught Nick's drumsticks? Lastly, for all you Floyd trainspotters out there, this full set ran 23m 15sec. I say the nearly two minutes more was worth every precious second. Absolute bliss.

 
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