Roger Waters, David Gilmour, The Wall ..... and Nick Mason
Published by admin on Thu, 2011-06-09 15:28
About a year ago I received an O2 alert for tickets to the O2 arena for Roger Waters 2011 "The Wall" tour of the UK. Having been a huge Pink Floyd fan since my late teens and never having opportunity to see any members of Pink Floyd perform this was an opportunity not to be missed. So I emailed my brother Phil and my girlfriend Marie and asked if they would want to go. Phil is also a huge Pink Floyd fan and Marie, not knowing The Wall particularly well but knowing what it means to me both happily accepted the invite.
It's a strange thing because although I do like the album, it's never been my favourite. On top of that Roger Waters has always seemed like the evil one of the band, so I've always felt a little less drawn to him and the album than the rest of Pink Floyd. Maybe it's a bit of resentment as I knew how perfect they were together. I was still very happy to go and see this master perform his masterpiece though. After a few weeks, or even days I can't remember, rumours started to emerge that David Gilmour would be present and playing Comfortably Numb as part of a favour returned to Roger, for helping him out in a charity gig. No details were given of when or where, or even if it was definite, but gradually as the year went on the rumour seemed more and more real.
To put this into context, as a guitar player, David Gilmour is my "hero". It's a horrible word to describe someone, but it's the closest word I can find to describe it. Since I discovered Pink Floyd I've tried to emulate and copy his style. So to see him play on stage would be a dream come true for me, and to be playing probably his most recognised guitar solo as well. I can't express enough what it would mean to me. And so throughout the year I felt the best way to deal with it would be to accept that he wouldn't be at the concert that we went to but for some reason at the back of my mind I always felt he would. I felt this was the best way because most of all I didn't want the evening to be a disappointment, I mean, we were going to see Roger Waters perform The Wall. Surely that's good enough.
Well after a year of anticipation, Thursday 12th May 2011 came around. We had the whole thing worked out days before the event. Marie was going to go to work early so that she could leave early. I'd pre-bought the train tickets. We were catching the 17:18 train from Winchester and aiming for the O2 arena at 7ish where Phil would meet us. I remember placing the tickets by the door a day before the event. When Marie got home from work I was rushing her a long to get changed as quickly as possible which you can imagine didn't make me very popular. Eventually we got going and drove to the station carpark which took longer than it should. Marie went to get the ticket while I parked. Then we ran into the station and actually caught a late train, and not the one on schedule. I must have double checked my wallet every five minutes to make sure I had the tickets on the way up.
We were travelling up the escalators at North Greenwich tube station and Phil was looking down on us. We had over an hour before the show started. Phil had been getting tweets all day about the David Gilmour rumour. Apparently he had been spotted practising earlier that afternoon. He wife had reported that she was shining his mandolin. Could this all be definite proof that tonight was the night?
After spending half an hour or so in the Sky VIP lounge we headed to our seats. We still had about 20 minutes to go but Phil was anxious to experience the arena. We were sat on the upper levels on the right of the stage, actually a perfect position to see the top of the wall should David Gilmour decide to show up. As the crowds came in, some of them leaving it till the last minute, the anticipation grew. All types of people were there, young and old. Until finally the lights dimmed and the show began.
How amazing, emotions were running through my body. With the plane flying passed us at the end of "In the flesh" and crashing into the top of the wall, you could actually feel the heat off the flames. The whole first half was amazing, what a show! Roger came on at the beginning of "Mother" and gave a little speech indicating what a prick he'd been all those years ago and how he's changed, how it was genuinely a joy to be here. He played along to a video of him playing mother back in the 80s. The visuals, music, sound, everything was overwhelmingly good and more than I could ever have expected.
At the interval we all went out to the toilets where the queues were huge. When we came back in Phil had some news. Apparently on David Gilmour's blog (not by David Gilmour) it was announced, David Gilmour will be playing tonight with Roger Waters. For some reason none of us chose to believe it. Until we see him on stage it isn't happening.
The show restarted. We all nervous anticipated those words... "Is there anybody out there?"
As Roger reached the end of the first verse I imagine the whole audiences' eyes were on top of that wall. The spot light came on and the singing began, and there he was! It took a few seconds to register, not just with me but with the whole audience, could we believe it. There he was, I could make out his black Stratocaster and his Hendrix guitar strap, and the voice is unmistakeable. It was definitely him. When the realisation set in the crowd went wild, I've never heard anything like it. You could barely here the song over the roars. The arena was overcome with emotion. I'm a grown man, but I had to fight the tears. I was almost a quivering wreck at the sight of seeing David Gilmour. I gather most of the audience was the same way. I remember clutching my arm around Marie. My emotions are running high just writing this. It was a truly amazing place to be at that time and I thank Roger Waters and David Gilmour for giving me that experience. I understand all those screaming girls at Beatles concerts now.
I have to say I don't remember a lot about the rest of the concert. It was as amazing as the rest had been I know that. When the wall came crashing down at the end Roger came on stage and said "So, now we know. Tonight was the night when David did me the enormous honour of coming to play comfortably numb" and then he came on stage, with his shined mandolin. Then, Roger announced that there was another member of Pink Floyd sitting in the audience tonight. Nick Mason joined them on stage. With the rest of the band they played "outside the wall" and went off stage. The show was over.
The next day I was buzzing. I couldn't do any work so I played comfortably numb over and over on my guitar, and recorded it. Even put it on Facebook.
I was so worried about forgetting that experience but now 4 weeks on I haven't forgotten it, and I'm sure I will never forget it. One of my overwhelming feelings was that I now have a new found respect for Roger Waters. I really felt that not only did he love what was happening, with his concert, with David Gilmour, he wanted everyone in that arena to love it too. I felt that he knew what this was not just to him but to everyone there and that he wanted us to be a part of it as much as he was. All through the performance you could see him involving himself with the audience and that was great.