It took me a couple of years to get around to buying In the Flesh Live, mainly because I didn’t think Roger Waters would offer anything much better than the David Gilmour-led Pink Floyd concert videos, such as Pulse and A Momentary Lapse of Reason. These Waters-less concerts may not have been the finest testaments to the great music of Pink Floyd, but they were certainly amazing visual spectacles, showcasing some of the grandest and most elaborate stage shows ever seen. Although I consider a few of Pink Floyd‘s albums, especially Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals,
and about half of The Wall to be some of the best sorta-progressive-rock albums ever made, I was never a Pink Floyd fanatic, per se, and, hell, I don’t even own any of Roger Waters‘ solo albums. With this said, I loaded In the Flesh Live into my DVD player with only mild enthusiasm, expecting to only get a respectable performance from a man who was once the "genius" behind Pink
Floyd. WAS I EVER MISTAKEN! This is truly one of the best produced, and most enjoyable concert DVD’s I have ever seen – PERIOD! If you are even a mild fan of Waters, or Pink Floyd, this is required viewing.
In the Flesh Live was recorded June 27th, 2000 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon, during Waters‘ first
tour of the United States in about 12 years. He assembled a top notch group of
musicians that were much more than just a glorified Pink Floyd cover band. I could not believe it when I saw Doyle Bramhall II up on stage handling the guitar and vocal chores that once belonged to David Gilmour. Why would Waters choose this Texas-blues, guitar prodigy to handle Gilmour’s smooth guitar and vocal parts, I wondered. It seemed like an odd match. The answer became evident immediately as Bramhall nearly stole the show numerous times. What was great about his performance is that he paid the proper tribute to Gilmour’s sound and style, while at the same time infusing touches of his own, somewhat harsher and bluesier, signature style into the songs. Snowy White, whom I was not familiar with, shared the guitar duties with Bramhall, and also played brilliantly. He primarily played the Gibson Les Paul, which contrasted perfectly with Bramhall’s Fender Stratocaster, and this gave the songs a very full and rich sound. The guitar solos they traded during "Comfortably Numb" were simply chill inducing, and were worth the admission alone. Longtime Clapton crony Andy Fairweather Low also contributed plenty of tasty guitar to the mix. John Carin was also a standout handling all of the keyboard duties, and the occasional acoustic guitar. A trio of female backup singers added a nice ambiance to the music as well.
Waters stuck mostly to the favorites from Pink Floyd‘s most popular albums, but also mixed in a few of the more obscure songs such as "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", from, the Syd Barrett era, A Saucerfull of Secrets album. The second half of the show featured a sampling of songs from Waters three solo albums (mostly Amused To Death), and the crowd seemed to enjoy these songs just as much as the Pink Floyd material. So did I. Waters, himself, appeared fit and healthy, and his vocals and bass playing were superb. He seemed very satisfied by the results of his vision for this particular tour, and this shone through in his performance during this show. The direction and production of this concert was simply magnificent. The stage show and lighting was exciting and unique, but did not overwhelm the music. The choice of songs was excellent and appropriately gave the fans what they came to hear. All of the classics from Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall were played, but a few of the less radio-friendly gems were also dug out – particularly the awesome full version of "Dogs", from (what else) the Animals album. Keyboardist John Carin handled the lead vocals during this song. Video shown on the main screen, along with a little bit of theatrics, were used sparingly, but to great affect. They were never distracting or annoying. There is one peculiar part of the show, smack dab in the middle of "Dogs", where Waters and the band spontaneously sit down for a game of cards on the middle of the stage. While this may sound a
little bizarre, I remember hearing myself saying "this is just too cool!". It was somehow just appropriate for the performance of that song.
The overall production quality of this DVD easily rates ten stars. There is really no need to go into great detail other than to say that the 5.1 surround mix sounds astonishing, in both DTS and Dolby format, and the video quality was so clear and vivid, it made my regular TV look like high definition. The camera work and direction were on par with the audio/video quality. The director really gave you a good feel for the whole stage show, yet never missed capturing
a significant solo, or other key moment, with a well shot close-up. There were
no frantic camera angle changes or silly special effects, and this made you feel
like you were one with the audience. All DVD concerts should be of this quality.
It seems apparent that Waters was making a statement to the fans, with this tour, and to David Gilmour in particular. I WAS PINK FLOYD! Take your inflatable flying pigs, 20,000 lasers, and 15-piece backing band and try to top this Gilmour! With In the Flesh Live, Roger Waters has certainly made a strong case that he was truly the heart and soul of Pink Floyd.
In the Flesh
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
Pigs on the Wing Part I
Welcome to the Machine
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-8)
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
Breathe (In The Air)
The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking Part II (5:06 am? Every Stranger’s Eyes)
Perfect Sense (Parts I and II)
The Bravery of Being Out of Range
It’s a Miracle
Amused to Death
Each Small Candle
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