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Roger Waters - In the Flesh (DVD) CD (album) cover

IN THE FLESH (DVD)

Roger Waters

 

Crossover Prog

4.30 | 150 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Waters' best performance captured is a visual and aural feast.

"In The Flesh Live" is an album I stumbled across some months ago in a bargain bin and I enjoyed the Roger Waters version of Pink Floyd songs after hearing Gilmour's versions for so many years. It was a delight to discover the album was available on DVD so I watched this knowing all the songs well but being able to experience them all over again in a visual format. The DVD is very well edited, it doesn't flash onto scenes but lingers on the band so you can enjoy the performances, concentrating on all members of the band as well as Waters. He doesn't come across as a megalomaniac but rather a generous performer giving each member a chance to shine.

It begins with Waters on acoustic practicing in the green room prior to his stage entrance. The first song generates instant 'The Wall' atmosphere with the wall scene and Gerald Scarfe's illustrations beamed onto a massive curtain and chilling red lighting. We see Waters raise the hammer fists up and the audience copies the action. He takes on the persona of the deranged Pink decked out all in black and his entourage of performers fill the stage particularly noteable are the 3 beautiful women in black dresses. Water's voice is raspy and cold but he sounds great, the classic Pink Floyd sound is heard once again.

"Thank you, good evening, welcome", he addresses the crowd after the infamous Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2. Immediately he launches into acoustic classic Mother. The crowd roars when he sings, "Mother, do you think they'll like the song?" The crowd are really hanging onto every phrase cheering when he asks "should I trust the government", among others. The women that chime in on the chorus lifts the atmosphere considerably. The lead break is excellent, it is not Gilmour but still rings out well in the packed auditorium. The set, by the way, has a table and lamps, television, radios with other props, like Pink's apartment.

The next song is a rarely heard live treatment of Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert. A minimalist set piece with just Waters on acoustic and some mid white lighting. It is followed promptly by Southampton Dock.

When the Animals cover projects on the wall the roar of the crowd is heard, and the atmosphere darkens when we hear Dogs, a classic PF track. Waters doesn't need to sing the high verses as he leaves that to the guitarist, Jon Carin. The much celebrated lead break is well executed by the left handed, hippy looking young guy playing a bright red axe, Doyle Bramhall II, dressed in black with psychedelic patterns on the legs, and a weird looking toothy necklace. The keyboardist, Andy Wallace, is excellent too, I will add, on this track. The back projection is the moon and the city as seen on the front cover of the album and DVD. The twin lead break is fantastic, as good as I have heard it live. The band members sit down after a while, and enjoy a drink, acting out a scene from Animals it appears. They begin to play cards, Poker, I believe, as a weird phased keyboard solo is heard. Soon they stand again as the acoustic section begins to complete the lengthy 16 minute epic. Waters sings, "I'm a little bit confused, sometimes it seems like I am just being used", and we believe him. Even the dog barking effects are there, on this definitive highlight.

The crowd give a standing ovation and then Welcome to the Machine begins to pulse out its stark rhythms. Waters sounds great on this and the atmosphere is dark and foreboding, helped by effects, ethereal female vocals, and keyboard swells. On the back projection curtain is the image of a robotic machine icon in a circle, reminding one of PF's patented circular visual screen. I simply adore the keyboards on this classic. The way the band members stand rock solid as they play this lends it considerable power, especially the 3 ladies in black dresses. At the end the ladies wave tambourines to add to the music.

The intro is heard that all fans know and then we have the enigmatic Wish You Were Here, and I couldn't help but miss Gilmour on this, but it was still a nice addition to the set list. Waters sounds fine, with his more pained version of the classic. The stage fills with dry ice mist and a blue light washes over all. The lead solo by Doyle is different to what we may be used to but it's a good interpretation, with true variations especially the ending.

Another epic follows with Shine On You Crazy Diamond pts 1-8 clocking about 15 minutes. The set list is incredible at this point in the show. As soon as the 4 note guitar echoing strum starts, the crowd are in raptures. The ambient keyboards signify that they are about to hear a quintessential PF classic. We see lots of crowd shots as the stage is darkened with psychedelic blobs, akin to the Syd Barrett era. The lead guitar solos on this are varied and Doyle really gives it everything, it is ear candy for certain. We see projected images of Syd which is a potent and reverent touch. The twin lead guitars soar on this, and there is a true majesty with the female vocalists raising their hands high as they belt out the signature tune, "Shine on you crazy diamond". The keyboards are excellent, extremely ambient passages wash over the music. The slide lap Steel guitar is played virtuoso style by Carin, in fact all musicians contribute to one of the all time best performances of this legendary song.

After a standing ovation the band set course for early PF psych prog with Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun, another rarely heard live track these days. The weird song is accompanied by early Floyd era images. The camera lingers on the whole stage and we notice the 3 ladies are in prayer mode during the track. This song really brings an ominous darker atmosphere, helped by Syd's flamboyant acts on the back projection slides, especially the scarecrow shot in the corn fields. The sax playing is phenomenal on this song, and Snowy White lifts the roof with his guitar solo; a masterpiece, perhaps the best version of this song.

A heartbeat is heard and everyone alive knows that the DSOTM set list is about to begin. From the penultimate album comes Breathe, Time, Money, and then later there is Brain Damage and Eclipse, though I missed The Great Gig in the Sky. During Breathe there are many harmonies from the band members, sounding decidedly different, though delightfully so. The performances of these well known classics are mesmerising. Time features the wonderful intro bass solo as the prism appears on the wall with rainbow effects, generating a decent cheer from the crowd. The iconic images look amazing looming over the band. The drum solo is very well executed. Waters sounds pretty good on the verses. The choruses are surprisingly close to Gilmour's style. The lead solo is sensational too, so no complaints from me.

Money, the crowd pleaser, follows and I was looking forward to seeing this after hearing the incredible version on CD. The song is sung well by Doyle and there is a lengthy instrumental with many varied guitarists all sounding fabulous. The sax solo is up to par with the best of them, and overall this is a definitive highlight of the set.

The concert falls down for me when Waters indulges in material from his solo career. I had avoided his solo albums as a strategic move. If these tracks are anything to go by I think that was a good decision. Occasionally the solo stuff reaches some resonance as a good song, but it's all so poppy, although I am a bit of a fan of 'The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking Part II' which was in reality rather a bland album, apart from the eye candy saucy cover.

The band do good versions of these solo album tracks, especially those from "Amused to Death". We see the truck on the screen and some other weird images to add to the atmosphere. The "2001" sound bites of Hal's chilling death speech on Perfect Sense pts 1 and 2 are lovely, working well with the music. The female vocalists are soulful and powerful on this track. The crowd join in on the chorus "It all makes perfect sense", and it is an uplifting moment in the concert. Waters revels in the atmosphere as the crowd scream out in adoration. What a moment in the concert! This one gives me the chills.

The Bravery of being Out of Range follows, another one I am unfamiliar with but it sounds great here. Waters dons electric guitar on this, he is joined vocally by the powerful voices of the ladies in black. It's A Miracle and Amused To Death follow, both highlights of the solo career albums. For a moment in the intro of It's a Miracle it sounds like the creepy careful With that Axe Eugene, but it soon settles into a piano driven ambient piece. It is rather beautiful piano at that, and Water's has a charged emotional timbre in the voice, bringing the mood down admirably. There are even voice overs and a man running around with a torch.

These are slow songs and even the ladies take a seat during these, waiting patiently for their cue. Amused To Death is Waters and the ladies singing emotional verses about life and it's painful experiences. It is an important song from the album of the same name, though very sleepy, drifting music, and Waters obviously sees it as an essential part of the concert. It is kind of a breakaway for me though from the heart pounding moments of the early set list.

I can endure these songs as I have rarely heard them but it was nice to get back to the Pink Floyd material to close the show with DSOTM finale, so well received here, and Comfortably Numb. The latter track is always a show stopper due to the incredible melodies and the amazing lead soloing. In this case the lead solos are as good as I have heard. Snowy White and Doyle practically duel each other with their axes, and there are no winners really, as both are incredible. Waters sounds great, closer to the original version that more recent PF concerts. The arrogance of the guitarist, Doyle, shines through but they are both amazing musicians and this is one of the best performances of this song without Gilmour.

Each Small Candle ends it on a mini epic, a strange choice, (my wife thought they were seriously singing "eat small cattle"). The crowd raise their lighters right on cue, creating their own special effect, a dazzling, sparkling atmosphere. Waters enjoys it and when the band bow they know this has been one hell of an experience, never to be repeated.

Overall this is an outstanding concert primarily because of the terrific set list, the visuals are appropriate and not overbearing, and the camera work lingers on the band enough to enjoy the concert rather than flashing all over the place to try and create manufactured excitement. The DVD is something that all Pink Floyd fans should really enjoy, perhaps the best DVD of Roger Waters thus far. I am just so glad it was captured on film as it really is an incredible concert experience.

Special features are band bios, a feel good documentary and lyrics, plus a photo gallery, bringing the running time to almost 3 hours. It is definitely worth 4 stars for the sheer excellence of the material and the production value is A1 quality.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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