A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Pink Floyd: Pulse

September 10, 2010

Pink Floyd: Pulse

I have been to exactly four live rock concert shows in my life. I saw a very intimate show of King Missile in the Whisky-A-Go-Go in LA where I was about three or four feet from the stage. (I had to crane my neck through the whole show because the band were slightly above me, obscured by the waving arms of two rows of fans packed into the space in front of me.) I saw Laurie Anderson’s Puppet Motel, also in LA. I saw They Might Be Giants at Haverford College in 1998 in a theater that probably held about 300 people. And back in 1994 I saw Pink Floyd’s Pulse concert in Foxboro Stadium.

I suppose I should say that Pink Floyd, after the Beatles, are probably my second favorite band of all time. I discovered them just before my first year of college back in 1990. Oh, sure, I had been hearing them for years on the radio and my good friend Mike had been obsessed at one time with the Dark Side of the Moon album, but it wasn’t until I was just out of high school that I remember beginning to collect the CDs and really get into the music. My grade school best friend’s mother (and my mother’s best friend) died the next year and I remember practically deafening myself playing Wish You Were Here over and over at maximum volume with my headphones on. I remember how completely blown away I was when I first saw the movie version of The Wall in college. I was writing a contacts database for my mother’s business in 1991 (using Foxfire as I recall) and my musical fuel was exclusively Floyd. Mostly Pipers at the Gates of Dawn. I have vivid memories attached to many of Floyd’s albums. My wilder days when I wandered lost after dropping out of college are to the soundtrack of The Final Cut. I once discovered the Ummagumma two LP in my friend Christine’s parents’ collection. I was spending the week with her in her parents’ house and she was working at the time at Disneyland so I had hours to kill while she was at work. I spent them blasting Pink Floyd, dancing madly around her living room and watching their collection of Blackadder.

By 1994 I had only been obsessed with Pink Floyd for a few short years, but they were tumultuous and influential years that had a lot to do with what kind of person I ended up being. Floyd was part of who I was at that point and had carried me through some pretty tough times. So when the opportunity to see them live arose there was no question whatsoever that I was going to go. I went with a group of friends from high school – who were all about six years younger than me. Indeed if I remember correctly I signed Matt and Jeff out of their dorms and had them spend the night with me so they could attend the concert – so I was their responsible adult chaperon. I borrowed my parents’ Ford Torus and drove down to Foxboro with Matt, Jeff, Caroline and Rachel. I think. My memory is fuzzy. My memory of the concert itself, however, is quite vivid.

It was the only stadium concert I have ever attended. Indeed the only event I’ve ever attended at all in a stadium (sporting events not really being my cup of tea.) It was lightly raining. I remember that security confiscated my umbrella as I was going into the stadium before the show. (I joked at the time that they must have thought it was a strangely shaped bong – which was based on some of the other confiscated paraphernalia.) Our seats were down in the center of the stadium just about dead center, just a little to the left. Not that anybody sat. Everybody stood through the entire concert bouncing and dancing in place and singing along at the tops of our lungs. Intoxicating clouds rolled over us from those in the audience who had gotten their pharmaceuticals past the guards at the gates. I remember reading that the band had a giant blimp-sized pig that was supposed to float over the stadium during the show, but that it was grounded by the damp weather.

Most vividly of all I remember Comfortably Numb. It came near the end of the show and the whole crowd was blissed out to some extent by then. A giant disco ball rose out of the center of the stadium (slightly behind us and to the right) and the reflected white lights from it played over all of us. Down in the floor and along the seats lining the stadium walls. For the length of that one song it was as though we were a part of the show, drawn into the music and joined all together by it. It was a moment that transcended all barriers for me and left me deeply moved.

I realize that none of this is really a review of the movie we’re watching tonight. But this is what this movie is for me. A conduit down which I can slide into these memories of days long gone. The actual concert captured here on film is a treat on its own I’m sure, but the music and the visuals are so evocative that they cannot be untangled from these bits of my history.

I do like having a much more intimate and up close look at the performances here. When I saw the show the band were tiny specks in the distance. Here the camera gets right down on the stage with them. I love seeing David Gilmour at work in particular. He isn’t concerned with dancing about or giving a great show. He’s just sort of laid back in jeans and a black t-shirt, belting out these tunes that are such a familiar place for him. You can see in his eyes that this is just what he does, what he is. The music is effortlessly flowing though him and out of him. Richard Wright rarely looks up from his keyboards. Of the three lead members of the band it is Nick Mason who is the most animated – as he would have to be driving the entire performance with his precision drumming. The three of them are surrounded by a much younger and yet still wonderfully talented group of performers. Bassist Guy Pratt is a lot of fun to watch, jumping and dancing about as he plays. Gary Wallis is enclosed like Mason in a second entire drum kit. Behind Gilmour sway the trio of powerful backup singers. There’s also Dick Parry on sax, Jon Carin providing extra keyboard work and Tim Renwick with additional guitars. Mostly, though, it’s Gilmour, Mason and Wright – three elder gods of prog-rock weaving this spell that they know so well. Doing what they were born to do. Surrounded by a huge complex light show and watched over by a giant circular video screen.

It’s so sad to think that these three guys will never again tour together in this world. That I can never take my wife to a concert like this one. All these moments are lost now in time, with only video records like this one to preserve them. I suppose that this will have to suffice. Certainly it has made for a very mellow and enjoyable night this evening. I’ll take this journey whenever I can.

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September 10, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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