Remembering Pink Floyd
- Sivaram Srikandath
Story Dated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 16:31 hrs IST
At times I unabashedly say, thank God for television.
I was one of the tens of millions of people across the globe who watched the televised broadcast of the closing ceremony of the Olympics over this past weekend. And what a musical spectacle it was. The Petshop Boys, George Michael, Brian May and Roger Taylor (of Queen), Annie Lennox, the Spice Girls, The Who, the London Symphony Orchestra, Muse.......... the list just went on and on, making A Symphony of British Music truly an unforgettable event
My lump-in-the-throat moment came when the young British singer, Ed Sheeran, came on stage in a red hoodie to perform an emotional accoustic version of the Pink Floyd hit, Wish You Were Here. And when Sheeran was joined on stage by Pink Floyd percussionist Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford of Genesis, my evening just turned complete. And to add to the excitement was a high - wire trapeze artiste who walked a tight rope high above the stadium as Sheeran sang. Filled me with goose pimples, really ! For Pink Floyd, along with the Beatles, represents to me, the summum bonum of rock music.
The first album of Pink Floyd that I ever listened to was Wish You Were Here. It was in Calcutta, in 1976. The album had come out barely a year earlier, in the fall of 1975. Although they had released eight studio albums earlier. including the much celebrated Dark Side of the Moon, I had never heard of Pink Floyd, nor of their music till then. As was not unusual amongst youngsters of my age in those days, we got together to listen to the album in a state of blissful, mind altered consciousness; feeling no pain, as it were. The album cover itself was quite intriguing and showed two businessmen dressed in suits, shaking hands, one of them on fire.The LP had five tracks, on two sides. The title track was song number 2 on Side two, and I can still vividly remember the first time I heard it. The opening accoustic guitar riffs were seductively cool, creating an almost ethereal mood. Then David Gilmour's clean, melodic and beautifully haunting tenor voice broke in
So, you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil
Do you think you can tell ?
And from that moment onwards, I was hooked on for life to the music of Pink Floyd.
One of the biggest moments in my life came when I got to see the band perform live. It was in the summer of 1988, and the show was part of a 197 venue global tour in support of their album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Guitarist and singer David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, and keyboardist Richard Wright fronted the concert, ably supported by a host of talented musicians. The band's original bassist and main lyricist Roger Waters had, by this time, left the band in an acrimonious split. I was studying in Ohio University at the time, and the news that Pink Floyd would be performing at the Ohio State University in nearby Columbus sent us all into a tizzy. A bunch of us friends parked ourselves overnight at the OSU campus and were part of the 60,000 plus crowd of die-hard fans who managed to get tickets for the event.
I don't think I will ever be able to forget the evening. The show was everything that a Pink Floyd live concert promised to be. And more ! Huge custom built stage with the Pink Floyd trademark 32 foot circular screen; a mind blowing quadrophonic sound system; computer operated light banks; lots of dry ice and clouds of smoke; jets of brilliant laser lights shooting over the audience; mobile robotic "Pink Floyd 'droids"; and yes, the famous 40 foot inflatable anatomically correct pig with the glowering eyes looming menacingly over the cheering crowd.
The evening was unforgettable. The show started at sunset to the dense, fade-in, pipe strains of the brilliant classic Shine on You Crazy Diamond, a tribute to former band member Syd Barret who reputedly lost his mind to LSD fuelled madness. . Following this, over a two-set performance, the musicians on stage regaled the audience with such numbers as Time, Money, Wish You Were Here, One of These Days, Comfortably Numb, Welcome to the Machine, Us and Them ......... all the classics. And as the final encore, Run Like Hell ended with a magnificent fireworks display over the Columbus skyline, we realized with a hint of regret that all good things must come to an end.
On the drive back from the OSU stadium, there was absolute silence in the car as my friends and I sat in relaxed quietude, savoring the memories of what we knew had been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Pink Floyd truly rules !