When an Old Song Hits the Right Note

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RoIO Review

Gerhard: It's RoIO Review time again. And this issue we are (once again) doing things a little bit different.

Since this issue's theme is Roger Waters and Roger has just finished his world tour, we thought it would be nice to do a RoIO Roundup in which we give a brief overview of the various 2002 recordings we have so far managed to get our hands on, as well as provide some I've-been-there-so-I-know type of insight in some of the bits and pieces.

But before we do that, I would like to bring an item to your attention that has captured our interest.

Flickering Fireworks - The Angry Years - Part I

Sometimes you stumble across a RoIO that you keep not for its musical value, but for its entertainment value. This RoIO (which features only about 5 minutes of music out of more than an hour of stuff) clearly falls in that category. It is a brilliant (albeit not totally complete) collection of Roger's onstage rantings and ravings from 1970 through 1999.

Philippe: Through this period, you can follow the evolution of Roger's perception of his relationship with his audience. You can really tell how his 'magical connection' with the fans in the early 1970s changes into alienation and frustration in the second half of that decade. Then it turns into mocking and derision of the crowd during the Wall shows, more miscommunication on the 1984-85 Pros and Cons, a start of some kind of acceptance on the KAOS tour and finally once again a true appreciation for his fans in 1999-2000.

Gerhard: It includes the familiar ones like his wake-up call to Rick Wright (13 March 1970, Berlin), and the joiking "cruel but fair" remark from 26 April 1975 (immortalized on the Cruel But Fair RoIO).

Philippe: I think what strikes me more from the rants on the latter show is his frustration with the security guards in the yellow shirts who are "f*cking wandering about".

One of the best bits is from the 14 November 1970 Hamburg show with his very witty reaction to a request for "The Nile Song": "Okay, fine, wonderful, good, great, terrific. Wonderful, "The Nile Song", yes... Never heard of it. Any other requests?" He was in a talkative mood that night, because there were also other humorous remarks.

But it's ironic that it isn't until he starts taking the show too seriously that things really become funny, with the highlights being his "You stupid motherf*cker" and "No more f*cking fireworks, all right?" outcries from the 3 July 1977 show at Madison Square Gardens show. And of course the Montreal show from 1977.

Gerhard: There are also the more interesting parts from the '77 numbers game

Philippe: Yeah, it's a good thing it's just a selection of the more interesting ones, because you could fill an entire CD with just all the numbers games of the entire Animals tour. Fact is, once you've heard one number game, you've heard them all.

Gerhard: Most of the Wall rantings (including the fire during the first Wall show) are also here.

Philippe: Those Wall bits also include my favorite announcement before a Floyd song ever, from 6 June 1980 in Earls Court:

RW (after talking about the pig): This is a song for all the pig-lovers in the audience. [Crowd moderately cheering] RW: And for all the discos and disco-freaks. [Crowd booing] RW: And all the paranoids and psychopaths. [Crowd LOUDLY cheering] RW: It's called "Run Like F*ck"!

Almost all the Wall bits seem to be about pigs or paranoiacs or disco, and on one occasion even about Neil Diamond. That Waters bloke really must have been a deranged person at the time. :-) I don't think the bits from The Wall rehearsals should have been included, because all the other rants are rants directed to the crowd, and at a rehearsal there is--by definition--no crowd.

Gerhard: Another highlight is the rare impromptu performance of "Set The Controls" in 1987 when an equipment failure caused Roger to play that tune to fill the gap.

Philippe: This also marks a turning point in Roger's attitude about playing live. It happened right after he dedicated the next song ("Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" / "Southampton Dock") to his father "and all the others", so you would expect he'd be pissed off about that failure, but instead he turns the negative into a positive and gives this off-the-cuff performance. Though you never know if anything is ever impromptu on a Roger Waters concert.

Gerhard: And of course the "stop fucking whistling'' version of "The Gunners Dream" also had to be included.

Philippe: Quite a contrast with the previous song. I never heard Roger admonishing the crowd during a song before, except during "Pigs on the Wing" in 1977. It shows he still wasn't quite ready to accept his fans at this point. Though one has to admit that all the whistling during this great song is indeed very annoying.

Gerhard: From the recent years there's the rain-interrupted "Another Brick in the Wall" from the 1999 tour.

Philippe: Not to mention his Gary Yudman impression before the show at the Gorge where the crowd was buzzed by the tour plane.

His 'rants' from 1999-2000 are much more relaxed and friendly to the crowd, even when he's interrupted during his speech about the origins of 'Each Small Candle'. It's once again the same old relaxed Roger from the early seventies. The circle is complete.

Gerhard: If you like Roger's rantings, you should really get your hands on this one.

Philippe: Definitely. But you shouldn't listen to this as you listen to a music album. There is some attention required from the listener; this isn't to be played as some background music.

Because of all the talking and the almost-complete absence of music you shouldn't approach this as you would your average rock album, but more as you would a Monty Python album. But those can also be very entertaining. And who knows, maybe you'll hear something that you haven't heard before.

Gerhard: And now on to more traditional things...

The 2002 RoIO Review Round Up, part 1

Gerhard: In this series we will try to give a short review of all 2002 In the Flesh shows. This is an ambitious endeavour, and we probably cannot do this alone, so if you have a 2002 show that we do not yet have, please do contact us, and we can surely work something out. ;) (This goes double if you happen to have a recording of the Dubai show.)

• • •

5 March, Santiago (Chile)

Philippe: This was recorded and broadcasted by Chilean radio station 'Radio Futuro'. We don't have the recording yet ourselves, but from what I've been told by people who have heard it, it's supposed to have the same benefits and problems as the Buenos Aires show, which was also broadcast (see below).

Apparently the highlight of this show was the intro of 'Happiest Days' when the crowd was buzzed by a real helicopter! One of the advantages of doing a stadium show, I suppose.

• • •

Comforting Rain 7 March, Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Philippe: This is a radio broadcast, and that's a good thing! On the other hand this is a radio broadcast, and that's a bad thing: it was recorded and broadcast by local Classic Rock station 'Radio GEN'. How do I know this, you ask? Well, because the station jingle is played again and again during the show. On top of that, each song is also announced in by a Spanish-speaking DJ (as if we don't know the titles!). In the beginning this is quite funny, but it gets very annoying as the show progresses.

All this makes listening to this show a very trying experience, even though the sound is almost perfect. But the band isn't in top form either, because there are a lot of weird mixes, with the emphasis on the wrong instruments. But that could also be the fault of the radio station.

A highlight is "Get Your Filthy Hands Off of My Desert", for two reasons: 1) the way the DJ pronounces the title 2) The crowd reaction to the line "Galtieri took the Union Jack". Apparently the Argentinians don't have many fond memories of their former dictator. ;-)

• • •

14 March, Sao Paulo (Brazil) 25 March, Osaka (Japan) 26 March, Osaka (Japan)

There are recordings circulating of these shows, but we don't have them yet.

• • •

31 March, Osaka (Japan)

Gerhard: This happens to be the first 2002 RoIO I got my hands on, which makes it a bit special for me. Apart from that, it's nothing shocking. It's not the best, it's not the worst.

Philippe: I somehow ended up with 2 recordings of this show and I can't say I'm thrilled about that: the performance is indeed not that bad, but the Japanese crowd is barely audible (probably just too polite) which makes it a very dull listening experience. Where is that live ambience?

• • •

Kiwikatz's Master Recording 8 April, Melbourne (Australia)

Gerhard: A reasonable performance. The entertainment value of this RoIO is mainly caused by the person who named the tracks: e.g. "Animals Song" for "Dogs", "Solo" for "5:06 AM" up to and including "Perfect Sense", and the originally titled "Solo" for the rest of his solo stuff.

• • •

10 May, Milan (Italy)

There's a recording circulating of this show (one of the best on the European tour, according to someone who saw all the gigs), but we don't have it yet.

• • •

Amused In Antwerp 13 May, Antwerp (Belgium)

Philippe: I hate to say it, but the show in my home country was the worst of all 8 In the Flesh shows I saw this year. The sound in the Antwerp Sports Palace is always crap, and not even Roger's quad PA could help this. On top of that, the band didn't have a good night as there were some errors, the most noticeable ones in the starts of "Mother" and "Brain Damage".

I recently received a recording with a surprisingly excellent sound (probably because the taper was much closer to the stage than I was), but that also revealed that the band had made even more (small) errors than I remembered.

This is an interesting recording if you want to hear a performance with some flaws, but there are a lot of better performances out there.

• • •

De Halve Van Rotterdam (1st set only) 15 May, Rotterdam (Holland)

Gerhard: De Halve Van Rotterdam is clearly named by a runner, as the name both refers to the fact that it's only half the show as well as to the 21km race (half a marathon) of the same name.

It's a painful shame that only half of this recording exists (the other half was apparently lost due to a technical problem) as this is an excellent sounding RoIO of a band in good form. (And it's a recording of a show I have fond memories of as I was there. ;) )

Philippe: The contrast with the show in Antwerp two days earlier was indeed remarkable. This time the band played virtually flawlessly, and with a lot of gusto. I also have very fond memories of this, because I was able to upgrade my tickets and stood only 5 metres in front of the backing singers.

Gerhard: A highlight of the show (which, unfortunately, is not captured on the RoIO) was the loud audience participation during "Perfect Sense, part 2", at times even drowning out the pre-recorded audience on the sound effects tape.

Philippe: Indeed, the ambience there was simply amazing. The only let-down was that my favorite magical moment of the show (the end guitar solo in "It's A Miracle") was ruined by some imbecile who ran up the catwalk behind the stage (the one where Roger opens the show) and waved to the crowd. Way to ruin the atmosphere, asshole!

And another bad memory of this show is that I forgot to put out my car lights when I had arrived in the afternoon, so of course my motor wouldn't start when I wanted to leave after midnight. In the end I had to call the Dutch road services and pay them 85 Euro for a temporary membership fee before they would help me get it started. The things I go through to see Roger live!

• • •

18 May, Cologne (Germany)

Philippe: OK, this is my favorite performance of the whole lot I saw, even though I sat in some very bad seats. But the atmosphere in the KölnArena was absolutely fabulous! The band was also in excellent form. Snowy White especially was on fire during his solo in "Set The Controls", and right on the money for his end solo in "It's A Miracle", which doesn't happen that often.

At the end everyone in the huge hall was in full party mood, even Roger, judging from his announcement before "Comfy Numb": "OK, everyone, feel free to stand up, feel free to join in, feel free to have fun. Here we go!"

This was also when I really started to fall in love with the song "Flickering Flame", and that's not just because Roger calls me his 'old friend' in it. :-)

I don't have any recordings of this yet, but I'm eagerly looking for a good one. Anyone? Pleeeease?

• • •

Welcome To The Arena 20 May, Oberhausen (Germany)

Philippe: I didn't plan to go to this show, but after the amazing experience in Cologne and some persuasive talks from a few new-found friends at that show, I decided to go anyway.

The show wasn't that bad, but after Cologne it couldn't help but be a bit of a let down. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.

The recording of this was available very soon and everyone who would want it should have a copy by now. It's a great one, although the crowd sounds a bit quieter than it did in the Arena. The best reason to have this one is to hear what happens when the click-track for the intro of "Breathe" doesn't work: a completely false start of the song.

• • •

2 June, Copenhagen (Denmark)

There's a recording, called "Flickering Forum", of this show circulating, but we don't have it yet.

15 June, Budapest (Hungary)

There's a recording circulating of this show, but we don't have it yet.

• • •

19 June, Paris (France)

Philippe: Another great show, though I didn't start to enjoy it immediately when I was there because I was pissed off that the tickets I had ordered through '' hadn't arrived so I had to find one on the black market. Fortunately I already knew the scalper from previous shows so I could get one at face value.

Anyway, it had been one month since I had last seen the show and it was very nice reacquainting myself with it. The show and sound were even better than a month before, although there was still that "je ne sais quoi" missing that was present in Cologne.

A funny thing happened before "Flickering Flame" when Roger wants to speak French, but does so horribly: apparently the song was about 'la liberté' (freedom) et la mort' (death). He obviously meant to say "l'amour" (love), so he quickly corrected himself, but did so in English. Very strange that someone who is supposed to be writing an entire opera in French can't manage to speak a few simple words of it.

Anyway, this should also be a very entertaining recording, once it surfaces.

• • •

22 June, Manchester (UK)

There's a recording circulating of this show, but we don't have it yet.

• • •

26 & 27 June, Wembley Arena, London (UK)

Gerhard: The show on the 26th was another one I was fortunate enough to experience in person, and this time I had managed to upgrade my tickets (at reasonable expense) to 6th-row seats (right and front) which turned out to have been a very good investment indeed. Reports from various people who sat further back in the hall complained about loud, obnoxious and boisterous louts in the audience, but we didn't get bothered by them.

Philippe: Grrmbl... I know about that firsthand. I also should have upgraded my seats, but was stuck somewhere in the back of the hall. :-( Oh well, at least I managed to see eight shows, and that's still better than only two, isn't it, Ger?

Fortunately my seat for the 27th was much better, even though I was bothered for a while by an irritating, whistling idiot who came to sit in the empty seats in the row in front of me in the second half. But he left again after the Dark Side stuff. How predictable.

Gerhard: I'll spare you the details about the pre-show meeting, though I had a good time, and to all those I managed to meet in the flesh, so to speak, it was a pleasure meeting you.

Philippe: Why, thank you Gerhard! It was indeed very nice meeting you again, as well as a lot of other people. As someone there said: "There's no such thing as a bad Roger Waters fan".

Gerhard: Anyway, on with the show. The two Wembley were the last two real shows of the In the Flesh tour, and the band was intent on giving it their best. As you probably know, Nick Mason made a guest appearance during "Set The Controls" (to loud cheers and shouts from the audience). Although the band (allegedly) didn't play as flawlessly as on the 27th.

Philippe: I can confirm that: the 27th was a lot better than the first night. Nick's timing also seemed a bit off on the 26th. So I'm sorry to say you picked the wrong show to go to. :-(

The last show, on the other hand, was just perfect. Another great moment was that after "Brain Damage/Eclipse", when Roger usually introduces the band, he instead invited the ENTIRE crew on stage for a huge group photo! Very nice moment.

But the absolute highlight was definitely Nick & Roger's reunion. I had heard the rumours weeks before and when Roger spoke after "Dogs" (which he never did before) I knew it for sure, but it was still a total mark-out moment when Roger called Nick out on stage. And the hug afterwards was also nothing short of magical. I feel very fortunate to have seen 2 halves of Pink Floyd live in a span of less than 5 months: Dave & Rick in January and Roger & Nick in June.

Still, there's no pleasing some people: when I spoke to a hardcore Roger fan and "Pink Floyd 1987"-hater he told me: "The drummer made 63 mistakes on this show and they all happened during 'Set The Controls'". To each his own, I suppose.

Gerhard: Both of these shows are required listening for the more fanatic Waters collector. If you don't want to get too much Waters stuff (is there such a thing as too much Waters solo stuff? I wouldn't know) I suggest you try to find a copy of the 27jun2002 show.

Both of these shows are (at this point in time) not yet in wide circulation, but they are out there and will soon be available for trade or weed from a Floyd fan near you.

On trading, weeding and buying

We've had some questions about the ways of obtaining the recordings we review in Spare Bricks.

Trading live recordings can be a grey area, legally speaking, and as neither of us are lawyers we can not offer you binding legal advice.

We can offer you some moral guidelines, however.

Buying, Purchasing, or Selling Live Recordings Doing this means the seller of the recording makes money from the efforts of the artist without the artist's consent.

This, of course, is bad.

Trading and Weeding Live Recordings When doing a fair trade, no money changes hands, and the only thing that gets spread is the recording (and a little goodwill). This spreads the music, and will lead to more people showing up at live concerts--or, in our case, the same people showing up at more live concerts.

Eventually, the artist makes more money. The sharing of live recordings will keep the interest in his/her music alive, and thus more tickets will be sold, it will lead to more of his official (live and studio) recordings being sold.

Gerhard den Hollander and Philippe van Roy are staff writers for Spare Bricks.


When an Old Song Hits the Right Note

A Review of Flickering Flame: The Solo Years, volume 1


Let's start off with what Flickering Flame is, and what it is not. It is not a "best of" or "greatest hits" album. Look carefully at the packaging--the red slipcover that holds the CD case, the glossy booklet full of lyrics and concert photos, the disc itself--and you will not find the words "best of" or "greatest hits" anywhere. Instead, this is a nice sampler of Waters' solo work, reminiscent of the "Berlin '90" promo sampler that, like Flickering Flame, contained a mix of the familiar and the hard-to-find.

It is tempting to compare Flickering Flame to the recent Pink Floyd Echoes best-of collection, but that collection did not have anything "new" in the form of unreleased, demo, or hard-to-find tracks. I can't blame Columbia for not taking the "greatest hits" approach, because when you compare Waters' solo career to his years with Pink Floyd, you quickly see that the "hits" (and some might argue the "best" work) were done with Pink Floyd. By making this a sampler drawn exclusively from Waters' solo efforts, the song choices can be a bit more eclectic, including some rarities and demos.

Flickering Flame contains tracks from four of Waters' solo albums (if you count the When the Wind Blows soundtrack), and is a good starting point for someone who is curious about Waters' solo work but doesn't want to invest in all of the albums represented right away. For the fan that has all the albums already, there are some hard-to-find songs from films, one in demo form, and a demo version of a new song, "Flickering Flame". There is also one cover song in the collection, a version of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". This song plods along sort of predictably, which is actually understandable, given that it was recorded as background music for a film.

Flickering Flame - The Solo Years, volume 1

Flickering Flame - The Solo Years,Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Too Much Rope
The Tide is Turning
Perfect Sense Part I & II
Three Wishes
5:06 am (Every Stranger's Eyes)
Who Needs Information
Each Small Candle
Flickering Flame
Towers of Faith
Radio Waves
Lost Boys Calling

Another soundtrack song, "Lost Boys Calling", is far more interesting, even in its demo form presented here. There are different versions of "Lost Boys Calling" in the film The Legend of 1900 and on the soundtrack album of that film, so this is the third version of this particular song to see official release in one form or another.

The title track was played as an encore on Waters' most recent tour and is included in demo form here. Fans in North America were treated to two Waters summer tours and got to hear "Each Small Candle" before audiences in the rest of the world. I guess it's fair, then, that this album hasn't been released in the U.S. and that we have to rely on import shops to hear "Flickering Flame". (A portion of "Flickering Flame" can also be heard in the documentary included with the live In the Flesh DVD.)

Most of the remaining songs should be familiar to Waters' fans, but even those invite the listener to give them a fresh listening by virtue of their order on the album. Instead of lumping all the KAOS songs together, for example, they scattered throughout. "The Tide is Turning" sounds different when sandwiched between two songs from Amused to Death. I've often thought of "When the Wind Blows" as a warm-up sketch for the ideas in Radio KAOS, and here we get "Towers of Faith" presented just before Radio Waves, which takes the latter out of its familiar context and gives it more gravity.

Before listening to the album, I thought it was strange to organize them this way, but every time I play the album I like the new contexts and arrangements. I bought the album mainly for the three tracks I didn't already have, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", "Lost Boys Calling", and "Flickering Flame", but I find that I generally play the whole disc, and I find myself rediscovering just how good the music is. Some of these songs are over fifteen years old, but they are still vital and have even taken on new meaning in the intervening years. I get a chill whenever "Towers of Faith" plays and I hear:

    And in New York City, the businessman in his mohair suit
    In the World Trade Center
    Puffs on his cheroot and he says
    I don't care who owns the desert sands
    My brief is with the hydrocarbons underneath
    And the sea of battle rages around the ancient tombs
    And mother nature licks her wounds

So why release a compilation for an artist who has released only three solo albums in the past seventeen years? It was released while Roger Waters was on his world tour this year, and could provide fans a way to become familiar with his solo work. Five of the twelve "Flickering Flame" tracks were on the concert setlist (and in fact a couple of the songs on "Flickering Flame" were recorded live on the earlier U.S. tour), and the title track is only available on this collection. There's something for everyone here. If you went to a show to hear Waters perform Pink Floyd songs and wanted to know more about the songs you hadn't heard before, this CD is a decent start. If you've already got all of his solo albums, there are the recent demos and soundtrack songs collected in one place. It's worth adding this one to your collection.

Dean Hebert is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.