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Concert Reviews:
Roger Waters Takes Palace Crowd To The "Dark Side"

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2006

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AUBURN HILLS -- Note to Roger Waters; America votes on November 7, not November 2 as was scrawled on the side of the inflatable pink floating over the crowd Monday night at the Palace.

Fortunately, that was the only real mistake Pink Floyd's former bassist and primary songwriter made during a dazzling and provocative two-hour and 40-minute show.

The star of the night was "The Dark Side of the Moon," Pink Floyd's landmark 1973 concept album that Waters and his 10-piece band rendered in its entirety during the second half of Monday's concert. But this was more than just some crazy diamond shining on his glorious past, as Waters dressed up much of the material -- even from "Dark Side" -- in a contemporary political context, mostly via the night's extensive video production.

Images of war and destruction accompanied songs such as "Perfect Sense" and "Vera." "Sheep's" video commented on governmental surveillance while the aforementioned pig urged Waters' fans not only to vote but also -- according to the swine's backside -- to "Impeach Bush Now."

Bush also surfaced on the screens during "Dark Side's" "Us and Them," while "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" juxtaposed the Berlin Wall with the structure lining the Israel-Palestine border. Candles dotting the screen during "Wish You Were Here" quietly referenced lives lost, whether in terrorist attacks or military actions. In the new song, "Leaving Beirut," Waters recalled the hospitality of a Lebanese couple when he was 17 and took additional shots at Bush and the Christian right.

And in that arena, the questions Waters asked in "Mother" -- "Should I run for president?," "Should I trust the government?" -- were a bit more sobering than in their original incarnation.

It was, of course, possible to enjoy Waters' concert, thoroughly, without getting sucked into the discourse. "Dark Side" was a treat, rendered as an ensemble piece that was mostly sung by band members rather than Waters and particularly spotlighted guitarists Dave Kilminster and Snow White, the latter a veteran adjunct of the '70s Pink Floyd. The slinky, Middle Eastern-flavored "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun" was a welcome rarity, while a truncated arrangement of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" paid tribute to the late Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett, who died in July.

Compared to his old band, Waters' spectacle was modest -- the pig, the videos, an astronaut that hovered overhead during "Perfect Sense," bubbles and confetti that feel from the ceiling, a dollop of pyrotechnics. Mostly it was an exhibition of a body of work presented by its composer, and as the prospects for a full-scale Pink Floyd tour in the future are dim, Waters offered a more-than-acceptable substitute.

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