This was the first appearance of 62 year-old Roger Waters as a solo artist in Winnipeg and 13 years after the Water-less Pink Floyd played to a huge audience at the football stadium. Waters brought a rather large band with three guitarists, two keyboardists, three back-up singers, as well a drummer and sax player, all of whom wowed 11,000 mostly Pink Floyd fans at the MTS Centre.
This show was even more of a visual spectacle than I expected. The band utilized a gigantic screen that was as wide as the stage and about 30 feet tall to show constant video footage throughout the entire show. Only in one of the songs, however, the solo number "Leaving Beirut," did the screen show any lyrics.The song was introduced as Waters was stuck in Lebanon as a 17 year-old and was taken in for supper and a bed for the night by a very poor but extremely gracious Arab family. The cab driver husband had one leg and the wife appeared to be a hunchback, who gave up her supper for Waters. The experience never left him and he finally wrote a song about it, that, like several of the songs this evening, had an anti-war angle to it.
There was ample shadowy footage of former band member and group founder, Sid Barrett, who died in July, 2006.
There was quite a bit of anti-war imagery, including footage of the new wall being erected in Israel. Waters spray-painted the wall during his last trip to Israel and also played another show in the region, in a town where the Israelis and Palestinians actually get along peacefully.
An inflatable astronaut appeared during "Perfect Sense 1 & 2." In one video sequence, Earth is seen from space and then an open air stadium gets zoomed in on. Instead of two competing teams, however, the stadium playing field was shown as being a deep body of water with a oil rig at one end and submarine approaching at the other end. Gun fire erupted from the platform but it was destroyed in an enormous explosion after being hit by the sub's torpedoes. Not surprisingly, an inflatable pig appeared during "Sheep," with more anti-war and anti-Bush slogans spray painted on.
Waters sang less lead vocals when the band returned after an intermission to play The Darkside of the Moon in its entirety. Guitarist Dave Kilminster occasionally sang lead vocals as did keyboardist Jon Carin. Kilminster was very strong as one of the three lead guitarists, along with Snowy White and Andy Fairweather-Low, who also played bass, once in a while. Fairweather-Low also looked a tad like Elvis Costello, with his balding head and glasses. Unlike the usually scowling David Gilmour, Roger Waters flashed plenty of smiles, confirming that the fans have remembered him and totally appreciate his contributions to music and his human rights interests.
One of the three back-up singers sang lead on "The Great Gig In The Sky," and she wailed away for quite a while and really won the audience over.
The encore tracks included "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2," which had the audience singing along and the evening's closer, "Comfortably Numb," which is what many no doubt felt as the show concluded.
I'm not sure how they could have improved the show. I could hear some of the people behind me calling for keyboardist Jon Carin to get off the stage when he sang lead vocals on the Darkside material. Sure, there were several more songs the audience would have loved to have heard (I wanted to hear the "pop" hit "Radio Waves" from Radio KAOS, but every good artist leaves them wanting more.