The Pink Floyd Experience
Greatest Hits & Rarities Tour
A re-telling of my very first concert experience
at the CN Centre on March 11th 2013.
Complete Set list: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-pi...-1bdb5558.html
When the lights finally went down over the closing chants from the song "Fearless" a subtle tremble of synthesized keyboard vibrated through the crowd. The opening chords to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" filled the arena and I immediately closed my eyes. Beneath the poignancy of each note, the humble waves of resolution enveloped my ears as the lead guitarist played on. Having been a Pink Floyd fan since I was little, this was a moment in time that only ever existed in my dreams.
The opening guitar rift and heavy drum line would crystallize this moment forever. The band erupted into a chorus of familiar melody and I waited for signs of rushed execution but there were none. Spotlights shifted overhead and bathed the band members in a deep yellow and red as the crowd roared their approval. My attention shifted to the screen behind the band where a hazy blue eye blinked beneath a rainbow of oozing plasma, like that of a lava lamp. The lead singer belted out each lyric with urgent necessity, sung in unison with the guitarist who refused to break his concentration. The excited faces of the fans never met his gaze. This was serious business and he was determined to get it right the first time.
Fresh billows of smoke flooded the stage floor and a white spotlight fell over the saxophone player, dulling out the other lights. The ending solo burst forth with tremendous accuracy and was a real show-stopper. Meanwhile the lead singer chugged on his bottle of water. Being the fourth song in, he certainly deserved the break.
Every light went out and darkness greeted the window-shattering whistles of praise and applause. What song was worthy enough to follow Pink Floyd's homage to original member Syd Barret? The answer would be found in the past, a time before the band's critical rise to fame. The back screen lit up first, projecting an image of the planet Saturn moving across a sea of red stars. Pairs of orange lights beamed and combed through the audience as a sharp bell chimed in. Then another, and still another, mingled with delicate piano keys. "Echoes" had arrived.
The band indeed played the full twenty-three minute set piece while scenes of space travel unfolded in the background, contrasting with the deep blue lights that washed over the arena. The only deviation was an improvised saxophone solo that replaced the shrill banshee screeching of the studio cut. Vibrant harmonies rushed back in to compliment the amazing drum section while the cheering crowd overlapped the guitarist's humble outro. All in all, a stellar performance!
Suddenly, neon green lights sprang to life, illuminating the bass player.
Up until this point he had kept himself hidden behind the band but now he stepped into the spotlight. The unmistakable sound of an opening cash register gave away the next song. Jazzy, blues-inspired bass notes and stern drum beats ushered in "Money" to a thousand screaming fans. The excitement in the arena grew to disorienting heights as the saxophone player delivered his finest effort yet which was overshadowed only by the amazing guitar solo. The lead singer tried his best to emulate David Gilmour but the guitarist and bass player stole the show from him with ease. The remainder of the first part of the concert served to calm down the audience, concluding with "High Hopes," and "Sheep" which then went to an intermission for the band.
Returning for the second half, there was a noticeable increase in speaker volume and it took my ears some time to adapt. The opening song, "Obscured By Clouds" wasn't as enjoyable as it could've been because of this. "On The Turning Away" and "Have A Cigar" were equally impressive renditions, the latter featured the lead singer at his most vocal and a cool flaming background projected from the back screen. The bass player returned to take the spotlight once more for "One of These Days" which was an amazing extended version that brought myself and the crowd back to their feet, cheering. A rainbow strobe light poured over the stage and smoke rose up around the drummer who eagerly displayed his talent here.
This song was followed quickly by the 17-minute epic, "Dogs" with the lead singer at last playing both an acoustic guitar and performing vocals just like David Gilmour. The lead guitarist also sang vocal harmonies and really played his heart out during the song's more complex sections. While the "barking" moments on "Dogs" were not quite as polished I was still very impressed by their inclusion. "Brain Damage/Eclipse" were the next set of songs played and for all intents and purposes were great to listen to but it was a bittersweet reunion for me. Dark Side of the Moon is one of my all-time favorite albums but it seemed to be largely ignored here.
After the thunderous finale of "Eclipse" the house lights came up and each member of the band was introduced and applauded. I shouted and cheered along with the rest of the audience but inside I was a little let down that key songs were missing. My displeasure quickly faded though as the house lights went out and all around me was nothing but silence and darkness.
Then the back screen sprang to life once more with the glowing image of a radio display and a white spotlight fell to the lead singer who began plucking the notes to "Wish You Were Here." The drummer, keyboardist and saxophone player motioned the entire audience to start singing, which was actually a mistake since not everyone knew the opening lyrics. Of course I sung out the words as loudly (and proudly) as I could and a moment later was greeted with other voices in the crowd until finally, the lead singer stepped in to rescue the song. Ouch!
After the main chorus came an extended saxophone solo (very cool) which actually fit the mood of this song moreso than it did on "Echoes." By this point everyone knew "Comfortably Numb" was coming up next, no Pink Floyd concert would be complete without it's blistering solos and brooding atmosphere. In a word, it was fantastic. They definitely saved the best for last and right as the song was reaching its brilliant climax, the much-discussed, flying pig emerged from the smoke and shadows lingering overhead.
Large and oddly intimidating, the plastic pig quite literately appeared out of nowhere. Guitar notes flourished again and "Run Like Hell" filled the arena while everyone pumped their arms towards this inflatable animal. Cheers and whistles scorched the air as the "pig cam" coasted around the whole place.
The band instructed the audience to start chanting the lyrics to "Another Brick
in the Wall Part 2" as it fused itself with "Run Like Hell." A strange combination
but everyone obliged this time around.
A final, lengthy applause some grand moments later signified the end of the spectacle and the house lights stayed on this time for good. I tipped my hat
to the band, took a stretch and proceeded to the exit, to return to the so-called real world... at least until the next eclipse of the moon.
* Humbly dedicated to: Syd Barret, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason
& Richard Wright for decades of inspirational music.
* Additionally dedicated to the entire staff at Harmonix for continuing to fuel that inspiration with their dedication to the music and video game industry.