Monday, June 18, 2007

Las Vegas vacation with the Police and Roger Waters

Ah, vacation... if only I could have them more often! I just got back from an extended weekend in Las Vegas, where my girlfriend and I got a little burned in the desert sun, lounged by the pool for a bit, and watched movies with her mother. It was a true getaway for me, aside from some brief checking of email and a call to my father for father's day. I turned down a writing assignment for Performer Magazine and slacked on practicing guitar for the upcoming workshop performance, and it was both necessary and worthwhile. I feel refreshed and ready to be productive again. Now, if this feeling can last at least as long as the vacation itself, we may have a minor miracle here.

I probably have reason to believe that it could last longer. After all, the Police did finally patch up their differences after more than 20 years apart to get their current tour together, so I guess anything is possible. It's a tour I didn't expect to happen, yet there I was, in Las Vegas, witnessing Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland performing together as The Police at the MGM Grand on Friday night. And there I was, watching them with my girlfriend's mother -- this was her mother's day gift, as her daughter had seen them once already with me the previous Wednesday. We were seated behind the stage, with a clear view of the audience in the front rows, as well as the band's backsides. All the big hits were played, though most of them were played in fresh interpretations, some more radical than others. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" was a particular highlight, with Stewart playing a wide array of exotic percussion, and Andy adding little melodic guitar accent to follow Sting's vocals in the chorus. Andy's solo in the jammed-out "When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around" was probably my favorite moment of the whole show. Best of all, it was just the three of them -- no background singers, no extra musicians. They really should have been playing in small theaters and clubs for the best effect, but considering the amount of people who want to see them, and considering it's amazing this tour is even happening, I really can't complain.

The next night I was back at MGM with my girlfriend for Roger Waters' performance of The Dark Side Of The Moon. Different crowd (far more smokers, both of the pot and tobacco varieties), different band configurations (Roger retained two guitarists, a keyboard player, sax, three background singers, and a drummer), much heavier subject matter... and even though the music of the Police is much more concise and pop oriented, I found that it was Roger's cynical "Perfect Sense" that couldn't get out of my brain: "And the Germans killed the Jews / And the Jews killed the Arabs / And the Arabs killed the hostages / And that is the news". Which just about sums up 2007, as it summed up 1992. It threatens to overpower the memory of the graffiti-covered pig that was sent out to float above the audience, and the welcome addition of "Sheep" to Roger's set list, the new song "Leaving Beirut" that simultaneously related Roger's experiences traveling through Lebanon as a teenager and chastised the U.S. for its approach to foreign relations in the Middle East... oh, and The Dark Side Of The Moon! It was a great performance, and I think it came off better than the Water-less Floyd's version on their final tour. But it really should have been Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright playing it together. Their Live8 reunion gave us some hope that maybe it could happen someday. But again, I can't complain. Waters gives us our money's worth -- a two-part set with a 15-minutes break and no opening act, lasting more than two hours. And $30 less than the Police!

Next show I expect to attend will be my own. There won't be any flying pigs, unfortunately.

4 comments:

Isorski said...

Great post! I just saw Waters in Oakland, California last night and posted a review on my Blog at http://isorski.blogspot.com/. And I also reviewed the Police a couple of weeks ago from the Seattle show. Enjoy!

harmolodic said...

Thanks for the link! I will check it out.

Doug M. said...

I'd like to check Waters out when he swings through Boston. How did the show compare to the gigs we caught in Providence and Mansfield all those years ago?

I think I'd rather hear all of "Animals" than "Dark Side"...and I miss "Dogs" but "Sheep" is pretty cool.

cipriano said...

Great review of the Roger Waters concert.
I agree with you, my favorite portion of the thing was Perfect Sense!

I saw the show in Ottawa Canada on June 6th. Also, I saw the same show in Montreal back in September of '06. He's been on this Tour for quite while.

My own review is posted on my blogsite, Bookpuddle, on a posting of June 9th, 07.
All the best to you.
-- Cip