Full 'Moon'


September 29, 2006


To the disappointment of its many fans, who remain one of the largest and most dedicated groups in rock history, Pink Floyd has now been two camps of dueling egos -- Roger Waters split from the group 23 years ago, in 1983 -- for longer than it was a working unit -- 17 years, since the band formed in 1966.

Yet even more than the ghost of its founder, the recently deceased Syd Barrett -- who left the band in 1968, to be replaced by guitarist-vocalist David Gilmour, though Barrett's descent into madness would inspire many of the band's best moments, including "The Dark Side of the Moon" (1973), "Wish You Were Here" (1975) and parts of "The Wall" (1979) -- both of its feuding factions continue to be haunted by the musical accomplishments of the now fractured partnership.

Largely eschewing Pink Floyd's famed theatricality while performing in the relatively intimate setting of the Rosemont Theatre last April, Gilmour devoted the first half of the long evening to his third solo album, "On an Island." But the second half of the night -- the part that was much more enthusiastically received by the fans -- found him dipping into his old band's catalog, unearthing both rare nuggets ("Wot's ... Uh the Deal," "Fat Old Sun") and undeniable classics ("Shine On You Crazy Diamond," "Comfortably Numb") while fronting a lineup that included former Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright.

Now it's Waters' turn. Although his most recent album is 2005's "Ca Ira," a "real" not "rock" opera about the French Revolution, the Floyd's erstwhile bassist, lyricist and sometimes vocalist is concentrating even more than Gilmour on his past with the band. Not to be outdone by Gilmour and Wright, Waters has been trotting out former Floyd drummer Nick Mason at many of his shows, including dates in Europe and New York, though Mason isn't scheduled to perform in Chicago this weekend.

The first part of Waters' set does include a sampling from his usually over-thought and generally joyless solo catalog, including "Perfect Sense" from '92's dreadful "Amused to Death," a couple of songs from '83's "The Final Cut" (now acknowledged as more of a Waters solo disc than a Floyd effort) and the recent, non-album single "Leaving Beirut." But these are interspersed with Floyd tunes both obscure ("Mother," "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun") and classic (including "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" -- in homage to Syd, of course -- "Wish You Were Here" and "Sheep").

According to reviews from earlier in the tour, there are lights, videos and theatrical effects galore, including the famous inflatable pig, now decorated with the slogans "Impeach Bush now" and "Don't get led to the slaughter, vote Nov. 7." But then the 63-year-old Waters really drops the bomb.

The second half of the evening is devoted to a performance, in order and in its entirety, of "The Dark Side of the Moon," which is not only considered by many to be Pink Floyd's best album -- though I'd go with "Wish You Were Here" or "Animals" -- but one of the best-selling albums of all time, period, with total sales of 34 million and a legendary 15-year run on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.

"It was a request from Formula I in France: They wanted a big event to go on July 14, which is the day before the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours," Waters recently told Billboard magazine. "Somebody in the organization rather fancifully suggested Pink Floyd playing 'Dark Side of the Moon,' and somebody else rather fancifully approached various people who said, 'Are you [expletive] insane? It's not going to happen.' And they then said, 'What about Roger Waters, would he do it?'

"So they asked me and I was rather taken aback, I have to say. I thought about it and I thought, 'Hey, why not? What a cool idea.' And the more I've worked on it, the more the idea has grown on me and we're working very hard."

Of course, dedicated Floyd watchers can't help thinking that the opportunity to upstage Gilmour was also part of the appeal. His parts are being duplicated onstage by no fewer than three guitarists: Andy Fairweather Low, Snowy White and Dave Kilminster, who also sings Gilmour's parts with the help of three backing vocalists.

Fans had just about given up on ever seeing Pink Floyd perform again when the warring members took the stage together at performance at Live 8 in July 2005, spurring the inevitable hopes of an actual reunion tour. "I thought it was fun," Waters told Billboard, acknowledging the magic of that short set. "It was more than fun. And it was so interesting to hear what it actually sounds like with Rick and Nick and Dave and I all playing together, because there is a very specific kind of vibe and sound to it, which I hold in great regard and which brought back lots of memories. It was terrific, and I really loved it."