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Home arrow Reviews arrow Concerts arrow Pink Floyd - Oakland Coliseum Stadium, California, April 21st 1994
Pink Floyd - Oakland Coliseum Stadium, California, April 21st 1994 Print E-mail
Written by Manoj R. Sharma   
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Pink Floyd oakland 1994 ticketHard to believe, but it was fourteen years ago - 1994 - that Pink Floyd were to play on what turned out to be their final world tour. A celebration of their new album, Division Bell, and a scoot through the back catalogue, the show thrilled fans worldwide. One of those was BD regular Manoj R. Sharma, who shares here his memories of one of the Californian shows...

It was all very typical. The air was filled with a nervous tension, almost a fear of what was soon to come. Smoke of every nature drifted freely across the sea of faces, some of them very young, and others a generation or three older. Strange sounds came from the massive speakers that surrounded the Oakland Coliseum. Could it have been any different?

At 8:20 the huge circular movie screen that hung above the stage suddenly burst into a flurry of blue life. Actually, it was all quite subtle. The strange sounds that we had been hearing for the past half-hour seemed to coalesce into a rolling thunder of power chords. Everyone was trying to get a closer look at the stage itself, but it was still cloaked in darkness. The song was old and ambiguous. People were lost and confused. It was as if they were expressing a subconscious unwillingness to acknowledge the fact that the concert had finally begun. The Floyd had taken the stage, along with 55,000 hostages.

pink floyd oakland 1994 poster It was not until the band arrived at the defining chromatic descent of Astronomy Domine did the crowd seem to recognize the tune. By the time the song got back to the chorus, the universe was shaking. When the final words were spoken, a wave of screams swept toward the stage and the Floyd answered the call with a potent, bottom-heavy version of Learning to Fly. This number truly aroused the audience and everyone knew that it was going to be a wonderful night. The band finally broke into the Division Bell with What Do You Want from Me. It felt very much like Have a Cigar, but it was more serious and threatening. The band then changed the tone of the show with On the Turning Away. It was truly ethereal. The energy of the new songs was quite refreshing. Gilmour then took control of the audience by releasing the opening groans of Sorrow. Lighters were drawn and the stadium became a Christmas tree.

The stage could be seen now and it was magnificent. Drummer Nick Mason was assisted by a second percussionist who was seemingly playing for his life. Richard Wright was hiding behind his usual bunker of keyboards augmenting and defining the sound of the Floyd. There was a bass player. There were three beautiful back-up vocalists, a rhythm guitar player, and hundreds of lights. A web of insane images carelessly drifted across the view screen and the rest of the amphitheater that surrounded the band and projected the sound.

The Floyd continued with Take it Back, followed by A Great Day for Freedom. The crowd was receiving the new music very well. The scene was beginning to calm and the people were finally getting seated when the band started playing Keep Talking. People were very calm and relaxed, but then came a sound that brought the anxiety back. The echoing bass notes of One of These Days. It was terribly surreal. The first set was over.

After twenty minutes the band came back to the crowd with the full presentation of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, parts 1-5. It was divine. It was sensory overload. The movie screen was just as interesting as the music. One had to be very careful not to become to enthralled by any particular aspect of the show. The band continued with Breathe followed by Time. The screen was dominated by outstanding computer animation. The band played a foreboding version of High Hopes which would be the last of the Division Bell. The Floyd then unleashed a cavalcade of classics. The always ethereal Wish You Were Here, Another Brick p.II, and then a fantastic rendition of The Great Gig in the Sky with the back-up singers doing all the parts as clear as the original. Dick Parry who played on the original album was onstage. The Floyd continued with Dark Side of the Moon. They played Us and Them followed by an arrogant rendering of Money. The accompanying film was perfect. It went back to some of the Floyd's earliest movies. The concert finally ended with the epic Comfortably Numb. The band left the stage but the lights remained off.

The obligatory encore started with the crystal guitar picking of Hey You. The band ripped into a ten-minute version of Run Like Hell. To the rear of the Coliseum, a gigantic disco ball was raised high into the air, and every spotlight in the stadium was hitting it. Light flooded the arena. The night was finally coming to a fitting conclusion. That last song dragged on and on. Every second was to be eternally cherished. The music wound down to a series of grandiose power punches and hits. David Gilmour thanked the audience gracefully, and the entire band gathered on stage, hand in hand, for a first and final bow. The concert was over.

We walked amongst the thousands of others back to the station. "Stopping is Prohibited" became the anthem of the walkers. We finally found our seats on the train and Bart quietly whisked us back the embracing ambiance of a small one bedroom apartment just off the Berkeley campus. The night was the most perfect actualization of a very old dream. I had never seen or heard anything like that before, and I doubt that I ever will again.

 
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