Posts Tagged ‘Pink Floyd’
Once upon a time, I owned more Pink Floyd CDs than CDs by any other artist — combined. I was depressed because I thought I’d never find a band whose music was as transcendently amazing or that affected me in such an emotional way. I put up posters at my school celebrating the 25th anniversary of Dark Side of the Moon. I bought or downloaded “RoIOs” (seems like only Pink Floyd fans use this term instead of “bootleg”) and became familiar with tens of different performances of the same few songs. When I was a junior in high school, I once told a class that the one thing I wanted to do before I died was to see Pink Floyd live.
Needless to say, I’ve since set my life goals slightly higher, and Pink Floyd has slipped considerably in my list of favorite bands. Still, when I found out that The Australian Pink Floyd Show (hereafter “Aussie Floyd”) were going to play in the DC area, it was with only mild hesitation that I ponied up fifty bucks for a ticket. And I somewhat guiltily slipped out of work an hour or so early — it was a late night tonight as a bill we’ve been working to kill for over years now is going to a vote tomorrow — to make it to the show.
When I got to the theater, 45 minutes late, the band was just wrapping up what sounded like a killer version of “Us and Them” and seguing into the finale of Dark Side of the Moon. It looked like the first set was that album in its entirety; despite my poster shenanigans in high school, Dark Side has never been one of my favorite Floyd albums and so I wasn’t overly bummed about missing out on most of the set. However, to my surprise I did nearly get chills listening to “Brain Damage/Eclipse,” so things were looking good.
After a brief intermission, the second set kicked off with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” much to my delight (Wish You Were Here remains my favorite Floyd album). I won’t list out the whole setlist, but suffice it to say that it drew from a wide variety of albums, although the only pre-Dark Side songs were “One Of These Days” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.” The latter was godly. The live rendition was trancelike at the beginning and ending, but unlike the original, added in an absolutely crushing middle section, with a pair of white-hot solos courtesy of the guitarist and saxophonist. Easily the highlight of the show for me. The pro-shot YouTube video below is good, but doesn’t do the performance I saw justice.
Elsewhere were some totally unsurprising selections like “Wish You Were Here,” “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2″ (with a nifty guitar solo section), “Comfortably Numb,” etc. If I had a complaint it would be that there were too many songs from The Wall. The vocalists in Aussie Floyd did a decent job with Gilmour’s rich vocal parts, but couldn’t pull of Waters’ reedy, tortured-soul vocals nearly as convincingly. In fact, overall their vocal performances, while technically sound, were emotionally a little flat. Some of the songs from The Wall (in addition to not being my favorites in the first place) suffered as a result.
An odd highlight for me was “Learning to Fly” off of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, which was played in a form closer to the funkier Delicate Sound of Thunder version. Momentary Lapse is not an album that most Floyd fans would ever call one of their best, but I have a bit of a soft spot for it. It was the first Floyd album I ever heard; I stayed up all night on a long bus ride from North Carolina to the Florida Keys on a seventh-grade school trip, listening to this album over and over again. When Aussie Floyd played “Learning to Fly” — my favorite song on the album then and now — I closed my eyes and I was 12 years old again, watching the nighttime landscape zoom past under the light of the moon as a whole world of music was opened up to me thanks to an old cassette tape in a borrowed Sony Walkman.
Last night, as my bedtime music, I somewhat whimsically decided to play Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. Back in the day, when things were simpler and I could actually answer those annoying “what’s your favorite band/album?” questions, my answers would have been… Pink Floyd, and Wish You Were Here. I still rank this album among my favorites — in my personal Gnosis-style rating system it’s still one of very few 15s — but I probably haven’t listened to it in five years.
I was suprised at the extent to which I still know pretty much every single note on this album, and the extent to which it still packs an emotional punch for me. In the past couple years I’ve been considering my two former “favorite bands” (King Crimson being the other) more or less played out for me; I’d listened to them so obsessively that at this point their music has lost all personal impact. I’m glad that this appears not to be the case. I enjoyed immensely my spin of Wish You Were Here last night, and now I’ll probably go back and give my other Floyd albums a go. I won’t be listening to them nonstop like I used to, of course, but it’s nice to know that a few years away from an old favorite can make it sound fresh and new all over again.
PopMatters’ review of David Gilmour’s new On an Island is probably the best thing I’ve read there for a while, in that I agree with it pretty much 100%.
Yup. I’m closer to the “resounding bore” side of things, but I do like the album and feel like it might appeal to me more as time goes on. Most of all, though, I echo this reviewer’s sentiment that, though we can criticize the album for being too laid-back, “thank Heaven Gilmour didn’t decide to ‘rawk’”. No shit.
I will now dump a very long, slightly edited, quite relevant excerpt from my personal journal here:
This is the role music plays in my life. I talk about it a lot, yet somehow I fear that the essence of its effect on me gets lost in the shuffle. The real importance of music to me, I think, is the close relation it has to my emotion and memory. Emotion: stuff like Sigur Rós, Mogwai, some King Crimson, After Crying, and so on is so heartbreakingly beautiful that I get sucked into it.
Memory: Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason, a somewhat dull album by any other standards, has a special place in my heart because it brings back incredible memories of a bus ride to Florida in 7th grade. Boston’s Walk On, a sort of music that I should despise given most of the stuff I like, also has a special meaning to me because of its contemporaneity (is that a word?) to the beginning of my relationship with my first girlfriend. Änglagård’s Epilog is similar in its relation to the beginning of my relationship with my current girlfriend. There’s even random shit like Djam Karet’s Reflections from the Firepool bringing back a wash of glowing memories of me reading Stephen Donaldson’s utterly stunning fantasy series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (a highly, highly depressing story, incidentally). Or Rush’s Counterparts reminding me of the time I spent in 10th grade living in my brother’s room simply because I wanted a change of scenery. Or King Crimson’s “Starless”, aside from being the single most beautiful piece ever, reminding me of the times I’d pull into the Career Center parking lot with the bone-crushing finale screaming out my windows.
A couple more thoughts on music: first, Sigur Rós. I’ve already name-dropped them a couple times in this entry, but now I’ll elaborate: Ágætis byrjun is a fucking masterpiece. Someone on the Web wrote, “How perversely ironic that only Icelanders have found a way to pack a winters’ worth of radiant warmth onto five inches of plastic.” Oh, it’s so amazing. “Warm” is precisely the right adjective. Also “beautiful”, “uplifting”, and lots of other superlatives that I might have already used. It’s one of those things, like “Starless”, that when I try to think of how to describe how it affects me, words come up utterly short. I mean, this is stuff that makes my heart skip beats, especially when combined with the emotional havoc that I’ve been going through. It all sounds like pretentious hyperbole, but it’s not.
Second, music addiction: a fascinating topic and one that, perhaps, might be applied to me in the future. A few sample posts on rec.music.progressive:
Fascinating thoughts. I never considered them before. Perhaps there will come a time when music has become too dominant in my life, when I no longer feel the excitement of opening up a new CD. I hope not, but should the time come, I hope that I will have enough strength to dump it all and move on, as this Mindgrind character is doing. It’s a very admirable thing, I think, to part with something to care about so much in the hopes that the end result will be much improved. And it has a lot of parallels to a certain ordeal I’m going through right now… hmm.
I like to think of the progressive rock movement as vaguely analogous to the bebop movement. Both see an increase in musical sophistication and roots in a counterculture of some sort. So why was bebop so much more successful? Jazz was as “popular” and “lowbrow” before bebop as rock was before (and, hell, after) progressive rock. I’m just now learning about the history of these musics, so maybe there are answers… but I see these as open questions.
Spinning early this morning: