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
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
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
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
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."